Lori Trahan visits Poland with a bipartisan delegation
On Saturday, U.S. Representative Lori Trahan departed for Warsaw, Poland, as part of a seven-member bipartisan congressional delegation.
When Trahan spoke to a reporter after 10 p.m. Warsaw time on Monday, the lawmaker was tired of a packed itinerary that included meeting with embassy officials and nongovernmental organizations like the Polish Red Cross and Torwar Refugee Assistance Centre.
Lawmakers also visited the World Central Kitchen, which provided meals for refugees, and Przemysl train station, a popular entrance near the Ukrainian border.
“It was a real rollercoaster of emotions,” Trahan said. “On the one hand, you see people coming together like people always do in communities, to lend assistance. But it’s so heartbreaking to see families in this predicament, people like you and me fleeing violence in desperation, with nothing but a few bags, all their stuff, not knowing they will come back one day.
One interaction the Westford Democrat remembers was with a mother. The woman fled Ukraine with her three sons, all under the age of 10, as well as her daughter and mother. They did not want to leave Lviv, but were forced to after witnessing the devastation caused by the shelling.
“She had no choice, but it was time,” Trahan said. “She didn’t want to go and she really hopes she comes back.”
Before leaving the house, the woman left her farm animals and pets with a neighbor, instructions included. It’s a story seen throughout the conflict, Trahan said.
“You talk to families and the reason why some people don’t go to other countries in Europe and stay in Poland is because they want to go back,” Trahan said. “Sometimes they go back just to check on other families. Some people go back to fighting and some people just want to be ready to go again as soon as it’s safe. »
Trahan said it was “devastating” to speak with families who have been forced to separate from loved ones – especially fathers and brothers, who have remained. Many refugees are women and children.
“They’re shaken up,” Trahan said. “They are shaken because their communities and cities are being bombed. They have to say goodbye to their loved ones and friends, and their future is rather uncertain.
While on the ground, Trahan said his belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin had underestimated the Ukrainian people had only grown stronger. She has “never seen a greater display of conviction and courage”.
“They want their independence, nothing more than their freedom, and their determination is really something that I have never experienced or seen so intensely, up close,” Trahan said.
As Poland quickly became the epicenter of the refugee crisis, Trahan said there was a feeling people were nervous. Last week, Russia targeted a Ukrainian military base in Yavoriv, 16 km from the Polish border.
“Right now, I think neighboring countries are doing two things. One, they’re getting ready. No one will make predictions about how far Vladimir Putin will go in his unjustified war and try to reunite the Soviet Union,” Trahan said. “But they also help bring help to people who need it. They are helping to deal with the humanitarian and refugee crisis unfolding right on their border.
Trahan added that over the past three weeks she believes NATO has never been stronger and countries have come together against “the immoral and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine”.
The delegation is led by Democratic US Representative Stephen Lynch of Boston. Other representatives on the trip include Democrats Chellie Pingree of Maine and Republicans Jake LaTurner of Kansas, Pat Fallon of Texas, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Mark Green of Tennessee.