The first group of people displaced by the war in Ukraine arrives in Mexico

A group of 81 people displaced by the war in Ukraine has arrived in Mexico. It is the first group that has escaped the conflict zone and has landed in the country after leaving Bucharest, the Romanian capital, on Thursday. The Mexican Air Force flight allowed 44 Mexicans and 28 Ukrainian family members to be evacuated. In addition, the departure of seven Ecuadorians, a Peruvian and an Australian was evacuated. “Families that were at risk of the bombing of Kyiv will soon be in Mexico City,” Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, announced on his social networks.

The evacuation operation took place through a humanitarian flight ordered by the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and involved the Secretary of National Defense, the Foreign Ministry, and diplomatic personnel from the Embassies of Mexico in Ukraine and Romania. The group is made up of about twenty Mexicans who were relocated to the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, on the western flank of Ukraine, before the war broke out, and were transferred a week ago by land to the Romanian city of Siret, right on the border. A small group left Ukrainian over the weekend and the rest arrived on another bus arranged by Mexican authorities after leaving Kyiv on Monday. This last group was in Romania for only a few hours, before being taken to board the plane, which made a stopover in Canada before landing.

During López Obrador’s conference, at the National Palace, the foreign minister assured that if necessary, another flight of the Mexican Army will be carried out to repatriate compatriots from Ukraine, a maneuver that would be operated from the border in Romania, due to the conditions in Kyiv. “We are going to continue operating from the border, Kyiv has increasingly difficult conditions, but on the border between Ukraine and Romania they need us now because other families are arriving, through other channels that were not necessarily the buses that we drive,” he detailed. In his intervention, Ebrard has once again insisted that Mexico “strongly condemns” the invasion of Ukraine.

“This war has been a nightmare,” Ivette Rossano told El País newspaper, one of the Mexicans evacuated, last Tuesday. Rossano has left Ukraine with her nine-year-old stepson and her husband, who has Australian and Ukrainian nationality, and her dog. It took her three trips to cover the nearly 600 kilometers between Kyiv and the Romanian border in a rental car, plus a long wait to leave the country at the border crossing. The accumulation of difficulties and the need to gather as many people as possible forced the Mexican Air Force plane to wait almost a week at the Bucharest airport. Those who arrived first settled in a hotel and others spent the night in a gym that served as a hostel in Siret. “No Mexican is going to stay in the conflict zone, we are going to get them all out,”

The Foreign Ministry is aware that between 100 and 130 Mexicans have fled the conflict, although some have chosen to remain in neighboring countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania. The record prior to the combat is that there were some 98 families of nationals, who formed a Mexican community of around 220 members. “It is difficult to give an exact figure,” says Jennifer Feller, general director of Political Planning at the Foreign Ministry, due to the constant movement of displaced people. The diplomat comments that the efforts to offer consular protection began in December. “Getting them out safe and sound has been our top priority,” she adds.

The breakdown of passengers is that there are 28 men and 16 women from Mexico, as well as 28 Ukrainians, according to the authorities. Since last weekend, Mexico had coordinated with a dozen Latin American countries to join efforts to protect their citizens who had been trapped after the Russian invasion. Ecuador has more than 700 compatriots registered in Ukraine and Peru, about 300. The Government of López Obrador has said that it is possible that in the coming days there will be more flights to facilitate the departure of compatriots and citizens of Latin America, although they have not yet been confirmed. Authorities have urged Mexicans to seek to return from Russia to take a flight from the state airline Aeroflot from Moscow to Cancun scheduled for Saturday.

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