‘We need it fast’: Moldova seeks US support over Ukraine refugees

Some 120,000 people have crossed into the small country since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

Moldova’s Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita has called on the United States to increase its humanitarian assistance to the country, as the number of refugees arriving from war-struck Ukraine reached 120,000.

Her comments came on Sunday at the beginning of a meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“As of this morning, we had more than 230,000 people who have crossed the border from Ukraine, and 120,000 stayed in Moldova – 96,000 of them are Ukrainian citizens. For a small country like Moldova, proportionately, this is a very large number,” Gavrilita told Blinken.

“Everybody has come together to host, to provide shelter, to provide food, to provide assistance to those who are fleeing war,” she said. “But we will need assistance to deal with this influx, and we need this quickly.”

According to the latest United Nations figures released earlier on Sunday, the number of people who have reached Moldova is 103,254.

INTERACTIVE: Where Ukrainians are fleeing to – Day 11 [Al Jazeera]

Blinken, who is on the third stop of a Europe trip to shore up unity against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Moldova “can count on us across the board” for support.

“We admire the generosity, the hospitality, the willingness to be such good friends to people who are in distress. And indeed we want to do everything we can to help you deal with the burden this is imposing.”

Russia already has troops in the country of 2.6 million that are stationed in the disputed territory of Transnistria. Although Moldova has no plans to try to become a member of NATO, the former Soviet republic formally applied to join the European Union on Thursday, a week after the war in Ukraine erupted, in a fast-track bid to bolster its ties with the West.

In Poland on Saturday, Blinken said the White House was seeking $2.75bn in funds for humanitarian support related to the war, which has already driven more than 1.3 million people from Ukraine.

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