Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Military flight to repatriate Mexicans fleeing Ukraine

The Mexican Air Force will fly to Romania to pick up Mexicans who have fled Ukraine and wish to return to Mexico, Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard announced Friday.

He said on Twitter that President López Obrador had ordered a special flight to transport families who are being evacuated from Ukraine and wish to be repatriated.

“I am grateful for the support of [Defense] Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval,” added Ebrard, who said Thursday that Mexico “vigorously condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A group of 22 Mexicans left the western Ukraine city of Ivano-Frankivsk on Friday to travel 190 kilometers south to the Romanian city of Siret.

“Guillermo Ordorica, our ambassador in Romania, tells me he’s already in Siret, on the border with Ukraine, to wait for and support the first 22 Mexicans who will arrive with the support of the protection protocol organized in conjunction with Olga García Guillén, [Mexican] ambassador in Ukraine,” Ebrard said on Twitter late Friday morning.

The foreign minister later posted a video showing Odorica thanking Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă for his support.

Romania’s ambassador to Mexico said on Twitter that Mexicans will always be welcome in Romania.

“The Romanian government is working to welcome people of all nationalities who are fleeing this unjust and immoral war,” Mariuz Lazurca wrote.

In another Twitter post, Ebrard said that Ambassador García had informed him that she and other diplomatic staff were unable to enter the Mexican Embassy in Kyiv because there was an explosion in an adjoining building.

He said she was working from her residence and acknowledged her “extraordinary courage” in continuing to provide assistance to Mexicans in the country.

A 36-year-old Tamaulipas man who lives in Kyiv with his wife told the newspaper El País they were having trouble getting out of the Ukrainian capital.

Ivette Rossano, left, and Alex Ricalday, right, are two of roughly 200 Mexicans in Ukraine who had to weigh whether to stay or go in light of the Russian invasion.
Ivette Rossano, left, and Alex Ricalday, right, are two of more than 200 Mexicans in Ukraine who had to weigh whether to stay or go in light of the Russian invasion.

“We’ve been trying to leave Kyiv for days, my wife is six months pregnant,” Alex Ricalday said Wednesday. “… [But] there are no train tickets, we can’t find flights on any airline. … We thought we would have more time,” he said.

Ricalday said he finally managed to reserve a rental car and planned to drive to Lviv before crossing the border to Poland.

A 41-year-old Chihuahua woman told El País that she was hunkering down in Kyiv with her husband and nine-year-old step-son, who don’t have travel documents to leave the country.

“For me this is something completely new,” Ivette Rossano said. “I’m Mexican and although we have some conflicts with the cartels I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid.”

More than 200 Mexicans who live in Ukraine registered their details with the Mexican Embassy, and at least 50 requested assistance to leave the country.

In addition to Romania and Poland, people fleeing Ukraine are also heading to Hungary and Slovakia. All four countries belong to the North American Treaty Organization, or NATO, and their security is thus guaranteed by the other member nations.

With reports from Sin Embargo, El Universal and El País

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