Northeast Ohio Red Cross worker on the front lines of Ukrainian refugee crisis

“The heartbreak that we’re seeing is continuing and I think people are going to need our help for a while.”
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 7:31 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Jenelle Eli, a Northeast Ohio native and emergency delegate for the Red Cross, is seeing the devastation of the war firsthand overseas.

“We’re seeing a lot of hope, but also just a lot of sadness right now,” Eli said.

She spoke with 19 News from Warsaw, Poland where many Ukrainian refugees are flocking. While the need is great and the uncertainty is growing, Eli said the refugees are grateful for any help they receive.

“A lot of these refugees are so strong,” Eli said. “To go through something like this it is the worst moments of their lives and to pick everything up and to figure out how to get out of the country and over a border and keep your family alive it takes so much strength, so much courage and they’re really helping one another too.”

Parts of Ukraine may never look familiar again, but these scared and traumatized people dream of one day returning home. Eli said some have been reluctant to leave no matter how dire the situation has become.

“Right now, the pace of people coming across the border from Ukraine is slowing,” Eli said. “The people who are coming right now are ones with fewer resources, fewer connections to family and friends in wider Europe, and ones who really were hesitant to leave.”

Roughly 4.5 million Ukrainians have already left their homes, and this is just the beginning. Eli said the hope these refugees have is what gives them strength to continue this journey.

“The heartbreak that we’re seeing is continuing and I think people are going to need our help for a while and this is a long road ahead for people,” Eli said.

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