By Henry Beglinger
When Russia invaded Ukraine at the beginning of 2022, various humanitarian aid organizations and watchdog groups prepared for the worst. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fled their homeland, seeking safety in Germany, Poland, and countless other states. Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbor to the southwest experienced a massive influx of refugees, with 750,000 entering the country and a little over 102,000 staying.
"Instead, they recognized the severity of the situation, as well as their proximity to Ukraine, and acted accordingly."
This presents a dangerous situation for the Moldovan government, as they rely heavily on trade with Russia, often via Ukraine. This, of course, took a heavy hit due to the invasion, yet Moldova remained undeterred. Per the United Nations, they not only took in refugees, but activated temporary protections for those staying, “…the move provides a more secure legal status for refugees and paves the way for a more sustainable planning and response”.
As a result of this profound generosity to Ukrainian refugees, the major financial institutions of the globe have also stepped up to assist Moldova. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has invested over 500 million Euros into various projects around Moldova to help prop up this sudden influx of people desperate for aid.
What is most important about how Moldova has handled this situation is the extension of temporary protection status for these refugees. This status is outlined by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as, “Temporary protection will help refugees access employment, become self-reliant, and will also allow them to contribute to their host communities until they can return home in safety and dignity."
Further, this extension was not forced or coerced by any outside groups. As a non-EU state, Moldova is not required to abide by certain rules that say Germany or Poland would have to. Instead, they recognized the severity of the situation, as well as their proximity to Ukraine, and acted accordingly.
As the war in Ukraine shows no signs of slowing, and refugees continue to flood into surrounding countries and further abroad, the international community must continue its resolve in propping up those most affected by it. Every state should follow the example set by Moldova in not only allowing hundreds of thousands into their borders, but actively working to assist them and ensure they are adequately cared for.
The 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the comprehensive document it produced happened for a reason, and it is reassuring not just to Ukraine, but to the rest of the world how Moldova has hardened their resolve to bring it to life in assisting their neighbors.