An Irishman at the Polish-Ukrainian border says he has doubts about how ready Ireland is to cope with an influx of severely traumatised refugees.
Corkman Don O’Leary said he was pleased that Irish people are giving such a warm welcome to Ukrainians but added that they will need a huge amount of help:
“I’m delighted we’re welcoming the refugees - I think it’s brilliant,” he told Moncrieff.
“But I don’t know if we’re ready for it because… women were raped and sexually assaulted [in Bucha].
“And that happens in all wars so it doesn’t surprise us so much.
“But the trauma of that and… bombing all over the place.
“They do need support in relation to trauma.”
Men aged between 18 and 60 are, mostly, forbidden from leaving the country. So the floods of refugees are overwhelmingly women and children - for Mr O’Leary it is something that he says will stay with him:
“As they got off the buses, the women invariably reached for a phone and were telling the menfolk they’d left behind that they were at the border,” he recalled.
“There were young Polish reservists who were helping the people across - particularly the kids and they were treating them to some fun, trying to get them laughing and they were really, really, very humane towards the kids and the women.
“But you could see, it’s just a real sad picture - bus after bus and all that was on it was women and children. Some very young.”
Mr O’Leary, who has terminal cancer, says his illness did not put him off making the arduous journey with the aid convoy:
“For me, I’ve always believed in community and the strength in community,” he said.
“And we want to reach out to communities there, so we did… We’re all human at the end of the day.”
Main image: Refugees from Ukraine wait in line as they cross the Poland-Ukraine border. Picture by: Davide Bonaldo/Sipa USA/Alamy Live News.