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Cedarville graduate helping Ukrainian refugees in Romania

ROMANIA — The United Nations say more than a million refugees have left Ukraine amidst the attacks from Russia. More than 50,000 of them are in Romania, where a Cedarville University graduate is helping them as they figure out what comes next.

Leah Harper has been a missionary in Romania since September, where she has been doing community outreach. She told News Center 7′s Molly Koweek that in the last week, her group has converted 10 rooms of a hotel where they work, about six hours from the Ukrainian boarder, into a shelter for refugees.

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“Someone told me once, ‘wars are old men making decisions that cost young men their lives.’ And that’s just been running through my head, of all of these young families that don’t have other places to go and didn’t do anything to provoke any of this, but their homes are unsafe and if they do ever return to them, they might not be standing anymore,” Harper said.

UNICEF said 500,000 of the Ukrainian refugees are children. The agency warned that this could be Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.

The UN’s refugee agency said unless there is an immediate end, the conflict will likely force out millions more.

“Hour by hour, minute by minute, more people are fleeing the terrifying reality of violence,” Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said.

Harper said she is seeing first hand how fast it is happening.

“Its kind of changed over the week, because when people first started showing up, they had a plan,” she said.

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Harper said as the days passed, those fleeing were leaving in much more of a hurry.

“They didn’t have a plan. They didn’t have time to get as many things and so over the weekend, we started seeing people who really were just heartbroken and scared,” she said.

She’s now helping them figure out their next steps by coordinating with host families and helping refugees figure out where they go from here.

While many refugees were unable to pack all of their clothes and belongings, Harper said they’ve brought a sense of strength with them.