Exactly two months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sveta*, a 37-year-old journalist from Odesa, seven months pregnant, fled to neighbouring Moldova, with her mother, 57, and son, 14.  

“I never thought there would be a war,” she said. “Even when they told us it was a war, I couldn’t believe it.”  

Like many Ukrainians, Sveta and her family didn’t leave in the first few weeks because they thought the war would end soon.  

“I had been waiting for some weeks with my luggage, ready to leave, but I was still hesitant,” she said. “I have a second-degree disability and back problems, and being pregnant, there was a risk of premature birth. I was afraid to set off for these reasons, but I couldn’t sleep well for two weeks. I was exhausted and scared.” 

On Easter morning, Sveta and her family decided to finally leave Ukraine when heavy bombardment began in the area in which they lived. She found a car and set off for Moldova’s capital Chisinau with her mother and son. Her father and grandparents remained behind in Ukraine 

“I did not know what awaited us in Moldova, but all I wanted was a safe place for my family,” she said.  

She first sought accommodation for her family through Facebook groups set up to aid Ukrainian refugees, and she was contacted IOM, who offered her accommodation provided through its partnership with Airbnb. This project provides free private housing up to 30 days for families escaping the war in Ukraine after 24 February 2022, not charging any fees for its assistance and does not request any information related to bank accounts. This assistance is also available in Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.  

“I am very thankful for IOM’s assistance and help,” Sveta said. “The apartment is close to the hospital, and this is very important for me since I have to go to the doctor often but can’t walk long distances.” 

Beyond accommodation, Sveta, her son, and her mother all receive psychosocial support provided by IOM’s mobile team of psychologists, who have worked with almost 1,500 Ukrainians in Moldova since the start of the war. 

Sveta gave birth to a healthy baby boy, a second son. She hopes that this emergency situation will end soon, and they will return back home to Odesa. Until that moment comes, she will stay in Moldova with her family.  

* Name changed,no identifying photos in order to protect confidentiality

SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities