NewsPerilous journeys: Thousands flee Ukraine for Romania amid war

Perilous journeys: Thousands flee Ukraine for Romania amid war

War in Ukraine
War in Ukraine
Images source: © Licensor | AA/ABACA

7:08 AM EDT, May 11, 2024

About 11,000 Ukrainians have illegally crossed the border into Romania from the north of the country to avoid mobilization following the onset of the full-scale Russian invasion. Some have died during the perilous crossing through rivers or mountains.

"Radio Liberty" in Romania has shared information about these Ukrainians, citing data from the Romanian border guard. Florin Coman, the chief of the border police in Sziget-Marmației—a city near the northern border—mentioned that men between the ages of 18 and 60 often seek protection from Romanian authorities after crossing.

A spokesperson for the Romanian border guard noted that although there was a slight decrease in the number of refugees from Ukraine in 2023, the trend has seen a resurgence since the start of this year.

From January to April 2024, 1,218 incidents of illegal border crossing from Ukraine to Romania were recorded.

Tragic deaths during river crossings

In late April, at the Ukraine-Romania border along the Tisza River, the bodies of two men who likely drowned while attempting to cross the border illegally were discovered, as reported by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

"Even with a reduced water level in the Tisza, trying to cross it remains extremely perilous, especially during nighttime," the border guard's statement mentioned. "The presence of sharp stones, roots, tree debris, and the swift, cold current poses significant threats to life and health," they added.

According to the border guard, since the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine, there have been 24 fatalities related to attempted river crossings.

Andrij Demchenko, a spokesman for the service, revealed that law enforcement has identified nearly 400 criminal organizations that assist military-aged men in evading military service by facilitating their escape abroad.

As Russia's planned summer offensive looms, the Ukrainian government is working to bolster military recruitment. A new mobilization law, effective May 18, will introduce changes to the existing recruitment system, including giving authorities enhanced powers to issue military summons electronically.

The Kyiv government has also recently adopted regulations that limit men aged 18-60 who wish to leave Ukraine or are already abroad to obtain a passport solely within the country.

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