Lori Trahan looks back on her trip to Ukraine’s neighbors

LOWELL — U.S. Representative Lori Trahan is back at work in the United States after spending several days abroad as part of a bipartisan Congressional delegation touring Ukraine’s neighbors in Eastern Europe .

As The Sun previously reported, Trahan, D-3e, from Westford, was in Europe to speak with refugees, military leaders and non-governmental organizations on the front lines of the refugee crisis resulting from the invasion of the United States. Ukraine by Russia. After a stay in Poland, the delegation visited Romania and Moldova.

In Poland, Trahan said it was a heartwarming display where refugees were welcomed with open arms. The situation in Romania was similar “in many ways”, Trahan said.

“In no country we visited did we see refugee camps. There were refugee assistance centers where people stopped for maybe a day or two to get food, supplies and help when traveling in the host country or beyond. of Europe,” Trahan said. “But it wasn’t permanent accommodation, people were staying with people.”

But the situation was also heartbreaking. During the trip, Trahan said the fathers would drive their families to the border and say goodbye, the children were separated from their parents and there was uncertainty as to what would happen next.

While in Moldova near the Palanca border crossing, Trahan said there were many refugees from the city of Odessa. Many had left behind parents and siblings to flee the country. Others were outside Ukraine, but still wanted to find a way to support the cause.

At the border post, Trahan said he met three sisters aged 16, 17 and 19. They were among those who left their parents behind and chose to cross the border with their church.

“While they were there, they volunteered. They know there are many young people their age crossing the border, scared, anxious about whether they will ever be able to return home or see their loved ones again. They wanted to be there,” Trahan said.

For Trahan, it was another reminder that Russian President Vladimir Putin had underestimated the will of the Ukrainian people.

As the fighting continues, Trahan said efforts must continue to provide Ukraine and its American allies in the region with humanitarian and lethal aid. After meeting with the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Poland, she said it was important for Romania and Poland to feel an American presence.

“There is anxiety on the eastern flank because no one knows how far Vladimir Putin will push his aggression,” Trahan said. “So you are reminded when you are overseas and you are in our allied countries that they very much appreciate the support, the courage and the strength that the United States provides.”

As Americans feel the effects at home with rising fuel and home heating costs, Trahan said the Biden administration is working to cut costs. Over the next 190 days, 1 million barrels of oil will be released from strategic reserves.

President Biden also announced that the United States would accept 100,000 refugees. Trahan said some colleagues are asking if the number is high enough.

“One of the things I learned on the pitch is that there are a lot of Ukrainians who don’t want to leave their homes,” Trahan said.

Instead of coming to the United States or Canada, Trahan said many refugees want to be close. They want to be able to go home and watch their families, make sure they have supplies. Many are still optimistic about the possibility of returning home and rebuilding their country soon.

The refugees the United States welcomes will likely be those who have family in the country or in Canada.

“I have no doubt that we will increase this number if there are more people who want to come to the United States. Massachusetts and the United States as a whole have a great history of welcoming people who seek safety in our country,” Trahan said.

The delegation was led by U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch, D-8e, of Boston. Other representatives on the trip included Democrat Chellie Pingree of Maine and Republicans Jake LaTurner of Kansas, Pat Fallon of Texas, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Mark Green of Tennessee.

But, party affiliation didn’t matter while they were in Europe, Trahan said. Everyone was united in their support for the Ukrainian people, a departure from the division that can often be felt in Washington, D.C.

“We traveled together as Americans and I think that’s another thing Vladimir Putin grossly underestimated,” Trahan said. “He basically united Ukraine. He united the European Union and united NATO. We have never been stronger than we are right now. »

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