Charles laments ‘nightmare situation’ during visit to Ukraine refugee centre

Prince Charles visits refugees
The Prince of Wales with Dr Raed Arafat, State Secretary for Emergency Situatoins and Vice President of the Red Cross, during his visit to the Ukrainian refugee centre in Bucharest, Romania. Credit: PA

The Prince of Wales has spoken about the "nightmare situation" in Ukraine while visiting refugees who fled their homeland on a visit to Romania.

Charles was joined by distant relative Margareta, head of the Romanian royal family, for the unannounced trip to a donation centre for refugees in Bucharest.

More than a million Ukrainians have crossed the border into Romania since the Russian invasion in February and the nation has had to quickly adapt to deal with the needs of the displaced.

His visit marks the first time a senior royal has visited the region since the war in Ukraine began.

Speaking through an interpreter, the prince told a group of Ukrainian families: “We feel for Ukraine, a nightmare situation. Keep praying.”

Charles, who at one point clasped hands with a little boy, added: “I’m full of admiration for the Ukrainian people.”

The prince's tour of the Romexpo donation centre is the latest in a series of events he has attended to show solidarity with the plight of Ukraine and its people.

He met representatives from non-governmental organisations and charities like the Salvation Army and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, working at the Romexpo donation centre to provide everything from children’s toys and toiletries to household goods and pet food.

Charles interacted with refugee children while on his tour. Credit: PA

Lilia Nimych, 33, an entrepreneur who produced a range of pet products in her home city of Bila Tserkva in central Ukraine, fled with her daughters Emily, six, and Nilana, 14.

She said: “I’m so happy we came here, we’ve received so much help.

“All we saw from windows was bombs dropping… that’s why we left. We saw bombs coming down on our city – scary.”

After hearing Charles’s words of support she said: “It makes us brave and gives us the power to stand tall.”

Charles chatted briefly to Stephen Noble, a minister and Major with the Scarborough branch of the Salvation Army, who for the past month has been working in Romania with the organisation’s international emergency services section.

The section deploys to disasters around the world and from the distribution centre has been providing £10 vouchers to Ukrainians aged under 18 for their families to spend on goods they need.

Charles speaking to aid workers on his trip to Bucharest. Credit: PA

The minister said: “It may not seem a huge amount but when you think we’re seeing something in the order of 13,500 people, that’s a lot of money.”

“I guess always we’re trying to bring dignity to people who are in tough situations, here we’ve got a lot of provision for clothing and provision for food and hygiene, this gives people the dignity to use the voucher in supermarkets, or pharmacies, or even for fuel.”

Charles has been a regular visitor to Romania over the past 20 years and set up the Prince of Wales Foundation Romania to support the development of farming, traditional skills and the preservation of historic buildings through training.

During Wednesday's visit, he chatted to volunteers supporting the refugees, alongside Margareta, Romania's queen, known formally as the Custodian of the Romanian Crown.

It is thought Charles, who earlier met Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, is spending time privately in the country ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations which begin next week.

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