We arrived in Bucharest Tuesday morning and did a quick trip around the city with a local guide. The first thing we learned is that currently there are over two million refugees from the Ukraine now in Romania, mostly women and their young children. As we drove around the city we saw several city parks with groups of mostly young women with children. We learned that most of them are Ukrainians who gather in the parks to network and feel connected to their community.
Romania is a country with less than twenty million residents that have mostly welcomed over two million Ukrainian refugees into their country. Most of these have been taken in to live with Romanian families. During the day the Ukrainian women gather in parks to be with other Ukrainians.While there are a few government programs that offer assistance to local families who take in Ukrainians, it is very little. The average income per Romanian worker is about the equivalent of US$1,000 per month. Right now the cost of living in Romania is very low which helps a lot. Beef costs about US$3 per pound and chicken about US$1.75 but the major issue currently involves gasoline that today sells for between 6 and 8 US Dollars per gallon.
Today I’m not so sure that Americans would be as generous but the United States has no collective experience of having to live under totalitarian Communism as did much of Eastern Europe.
Tuesday we took a drive south of Bucharest and were shown a new consequence of the war in Ukraini. Forty minutes outside of Bucharest we came upon long lines of semi-trucks lined up along the roads heading east. At the same time we also hundreds, if not thousands of semi trucks heading west. We were told that the lines of trucks were spending days lined up to get through Moldova and Southeast Romania into the Ukraine, mostly to pick up wheat and move it west to markets.
Russia has blocked access to the Black Sea and even though they claim to be opening routes to allow the export of wheat there doesn’t appear to be any reality to their claims. We’ve been informed that even if that were so trucks can nowhere move as much grain as is required.