Jill Biden to meet with refugees in Romania, Slovakia this week

The first lady will make the trip to support displaced Ukranian families.

Abe Asher
Tuesday 03 May 2022 18:45 BST
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First lady Jill Biden is heading to Eastern Europe at the end of the week to meet with Ukranian families displaced during the Russian invasion.

Ms Biden will begin her trip on Thursday when she flies from Washington to Romania, where she will meet with US military members at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase before traveling onto the capital city of Bucharest to meet with Romanian government officials, educators, and aid workers.

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have traveled to Romania since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. A similarly large number of Ukrainians have traveled to Slovakia, where Ms Biden will travel on Saturday night following her stops in Romania.

Ms Biden plans to travel to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava to meet with US embassy officials, before traveling the next day to the smaller towns of Kosice and Vysne Nemecke to meet with Ukrainians migrants and families. She will meet with Slovakian government officials next Monday before returning to the US.

Ms Biden’s trip to the region is her first since Russian launched its invasion of Ukraine, and just her second solo foreign trip since since her husband’s inaugration as president last year. She traveled to Tokyo last summer to attend the Opening Ceremony of the postposed Olympic games.

President Joe Biden last visited Eastern Europe in late March, attending an emergency NATO summit, a G7 summit, and a meeting of the European Council. He also visited Poland, the country that, according to UN estimates, has taken in the most Ukranian refugees than every other country combined since the start of the conflict.

The UN estimates that some 5.5 million Ukranians have been forced to leave the country over the last two-plus months. Romania has taken in the second highest number of refugees at more than 800,000, while Russia itself, Hungary and Moldova have also taken in hundreds of thousands of new arrivals.

Ms Biden will aim to show solidarity with a small number of those refugees during her trip, as well as affirm the US’s committment to the Ukranian people and governments who are assisting in keeping them safe as Mr Biden continues to steer aid towards the Ukranian economy and military. Ms Biden will be meeting with refugees on what is Mother’s Day in the US.

“As a mother myself, I can only imagine the grief families are feeling,” Ms Biden said on Monady in New York. “I know that we might not share a language, but I hope that I can convey, in ways so much greater than words, that their resilience inspires me, that they are not forgotten, and that all Americans stand with them still.”

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