DEZINFORMARE: Abandoned by their own government, Ukrainian refugees are ill-treated in the Republic of Moldova as well

Ukrainian people receive humanitarian aid at a refugee camp set up at the Patria-Lukoil center in Chisinau, Moldova, 12 July 2022.
© EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU   |   Ukrainian people receive humanitarian aid at a refugee camp set up at the Patria-Lukoil center in Chisinau, Moldova, 12 July 2022.

Russian media: A pregnant Ukrainian refugee, forced to beg on the streets of Chișinău

Ukraine has abandoned refugees who fled the country, and Chișinău authorities have no interest in taking care of the refugees who’ve reached Moldova, donbasstoday.ru writes. The narrative is rolled out by Russian media after Ukrainian refugees were previously the target of a smear campaign. In fact, world organizations and leaders have hailed the way Chișinău authorities and Moldovan society have helped refugees from Ukraine.

NEWS: “Ukrainian authorities have abandoned refugees abroad, and Chișinău authorities are even less concerned with their fate. A pregnant Ukrainian woman was begging on her knees on a street corner in Chișinău, while a Moldovan woman was offering to help.

According to the refugee, she has been waiting on Moldovan authorities to help for two months. She has not received the assistance promised by Maia Sandu, nor seen any money from Ukraine. Her husband is serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces”.

NARRATIVE: Abandoned by their own country, Ukrainian refugees are ill-treated in the Republic of Moldova as well.

BACKGROUND: Since war broke out in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over 8 million Ukrainian refugees left the country, according to UNHCR. Of these, over 750 thousand have crossed into the Republic of Moldova. On January 31, 2023, some 109 thousand Ukrainians (mostly children and elderly) were still residing on Moldovan territory, a number similarly reported in Romania or Slovakia, countries with much larger financial and logistic capabilities. A study conducted in September 2022 by PNUD reveals that “Moldova is hosting the highest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita, which has a dramatic impact on Moldova’s budget”. Moreover, right now, Ukrainian refugees account for nearly 4% of Moldova’s population, a share comparable to Poland, which is home to the biggest number of Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war.

The first large waves of refugees were reported shortly after the onset of the war. Back then, the authorities created placement centers, while tens of thousands of people were accommodated by Moldovan citizens in their own homes.

On the other hand, Russian and pro-Russian propaganda in the Republic of Moldova have often tried to paint a negative image of Ukrainian refugees, also launching an online campaign against them. Refugees were thus depicted as profiteers or troublemakers. Veridica debunked a number of such fakes.

PURPOSE: To promote the idea that Ukraine’s neighbors and the international community as a whole have grown weary of Ukrainian refugees, who have stopped receiving assistance and are forced to beg. To equally give the impression that Ukraine is abandoning its own citizens, and to put additional pressure on Ukraine to surrender.

WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: Apart from the video depicting a woman who says she’s a citizen of Ukraine, there is no evidence to substantiate this claim. We cannot know for sure who the passport she presents belongs to, nor can we verify if, indeed, she has not received any support from Moldovan authorities (in fact, it’s not even clear the recording was made in the Republic of Moldova) and if she’s not actually a “professional beggar”. She doesn’t mention anything about her husband serving in the military, as donbasstoday.ru claims.

This appears to be one of the three most popular forms of manipulation – generalization, whereby an individual case or story is popularized as a tendency or an indisputable state of affairs in order to mislead public opinion.

The Republic of Moldova has made significant efforts, despite its limited financial resources, to manage the flow of Ukrainian refugees. This has been also recognized by international officials and organizations: “The Government of Moldova has shown leadership in responding to the protection needs of refugees fleeing war in Ukraine”, the UNHCR writes on its webpage, whereas the UNHCR representative in Chișinău, Francesca Bonelli, said that the Republic of Moldova is a good example of refugee management, including for European states.

In the first six months of the war, over 65,000 people were registered and accommodated in the 130 provisional placement centers in Moldova, the Special Center for Crisis Management announced.

Additionally, Moldovan citizens who put up refugees in their own homes received financial support in a number of installments from the Government and international organizations.

Starting this year, refugees will also benefit from temporary forms of protection, which will provide them with additional rights and social amenities.

Approximately one thousand refugees are officially registered on the Moldovan labor market, although their number is supposedly several times higher, the majority being involved in undeclared types of employment.

It is not just the authorities, but Moldovan citizens, economic operators and civil society too that offered and continue to offer support to Ukrainian refugees. Dopomoha.md is an online platform for mutual assistance, created and facilitated by “Moldova for Peace” volunteers. It is a government-run initiative designed to provide assistance to approximately 250 thousand Ukrainian refugees.

The false narrative also disregards the cause behind the massive wave of refugees: Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine and its blatant violation of international military conventions – the Russian army has been bombing civilian objectives, including residential buildings; it targeted refugee convoys, it executed and tortured civilians. The Russian army is what forced people out of their homes, running for their lives. Facing a tremendous amount of pressure, Ukraine has neither the means nor the obligation to support internally displaced people, whose status is regulated by the UN Refugee Convention.

GRAIN OF TRUTH: Some refugees may be unhappy with the assistance they receive.

Tags: Republica Moldova , War in Ukraine , refugees
  • Publication / Media:
    donbasstoday.ru
  • Date of publication:
    03/02/2023
  • Target audience:
    Ukrainian refugees
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    Ukrainian refugees are ill-treated in the Republic of Moldova
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