Letter: What will become of Ukrainian refugees?

Posted 4/15/22

To the editor:

Refugee: A person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war or persecution.

Nobody, absolutely nobody should ever have the fate of being a refugee. Forced to flee …

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Letter: What will become of Ukrainian refugees?

Posted

To the editor:

Refugee: A person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war or persecution.

Nobody, absolutely nobody should ever have the fate of being a refugee. Forced to flee with memories of a life, a few meager possessions and above all they will carry with them a part of the soul of their homeland. Their void will be replaced, replaced by others with different customs and the spirit of the country will forever be changed.

We see a daily growing number of Ukrainians fleeing their homeland. Their future uncertain. They are escaping the horrors of occupation and destruction. Their immediate goal is safety from the Russian Army. Russias occupation of Vienna in 1945 is still etched in the memory of mankind. Sadly this is being repeated once again.

I was not a refugee, almost all of my family was. I did grow up in a small town, a railroad hub, located 10 miles from the Czech and East German borders. It was a major receiving point of the population ethnically cleansed from the Slavic countries to the east. Etched in my memory are those who came, a great percentage women and children without their husbands and fathers. Everybody had to unite to share living spaces and resources and become friends. Processing these memories as an adult, it is amazing how the town was able to function with so much postwar destruction and very little postwar infrastructure. Visiting the town now there are still old timers with stories and some of us are still in touch.

However, this catastrophic war will eventually have to come to end. The powers of the world will have sit down and yet once again cobble together a peace “treaty.”

Foremost they should look back in history and try not to repeat the mistakes of the past. There was Versailles to end WWI, the war to end all wars, there was the Munich Agreement to appease Hitler, then we have Yalta and the Potsdam conferences that unleashed the largest human resettlement of modern times.

In recent memory, after the breakup of Communism, we have the dissolution of Yugoslavia, a very short-lived success before we saw the Bosnian and Serbian conflict. The Dayton Accord, signed in 1995, hopefully made a lasting peace. Luckily in 1993, 73 years after its creation carved from part of the old Astro-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia separated peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The negotiators of today need to very carefully take all past history into account. Both for economic reasons but most of all to prevent more catastrophic human consequences, negotiate whenever possible a safe return of refugees, to a place where their hearts and souls belong.

In the end... WHO will be financially responsible for the rebuilding of the catastrophic damage inflicted upon the Ukraine. Those returning will need help rebuilding their past. Those unable or unwilling through circumstance to return also will need help. They will have to be compensated for their losses in order to ease the start to a new life.

Who will decide a formula that is fair and equitably compensate for losses?

Will there be a Marshal Plan type of help offered? Will Russia be forced to contribute to the rebuilding of the Ukraine?

Lastly, if Russia is successful, where will all Ukrainians wishing not to return be able to go?

Whatever the resolution will be let it be, let it be lasting and agreeable enough to all sides. Let it lead toa lasting Peace.

Barbara F. Pelletier

Tiverton

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