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  • U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Westford and Stephen Lynch, D-Boston, meet...

    U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Westford and Stephen Lynch, D-Boston, meet with servicemembers in Romania during an official trip to Ukrainian border countries. (Courtesy Office of U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan)

  • U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan and colleagues meet with United Nations...

    U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan and colleagues meet with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees workers on the ground at the Palanca border crossing point in Moldova. (Courtesy Office of U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan)

  • U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Westford, stands with members of the...

    U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Westford, stands with members of the Ministry and Parliament in Moldova during a reception at the home of Ambassador Kent Logsdon. (Courtesy Office of U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan)

  • U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Westford, and colleagues stand together following...

    U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Westford, and colleagues stand together following a visit with Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița. From L to R: Reps. Jake LaTurner, Lori Trahan, Chellie Pingree, Stephen Lynch, Mark Green, Pat Fallon. (Courtesy Office of U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan)

  • U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Westford, and colleagues pose for a...

    U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Westford, and colleagues pose for a group picture following their meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă. From L to R: Reps. Mark Green, Stephen Lynch, Chellie Pingree, Lori Trahan, Jake LaTurner, Pat Fallon. (Courtesy Office of U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan)

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LOWELL — U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan is back at work in the United States after spending several days abroad as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation touring Ukraine’s neighbors in Eastern Europe.

As The Sun reported previously, Trahan, D-3rd, of Westford, was in Europe to speak with refugees, military leaders and nongovernmental organizations on the front lines of the refugee crisis resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. After spending time in Poland, the delegation visited Romania and Moldova.

In Poland, Trahan said it was a heartwarming display where refugees were being welcomed with open arms. The situation in Romania was similar “in many respects,” Trahan said.

“In no country that we visited did we see refugee camps. There were refugee assistance centers where people would stop maybe for a day or two to get food and supplies and assistance on their travels either within the host country or beyond in Europe,” Trahan said. “But that wasn’t a permanent accommodation, people were staying in people’s homes.”

But the situation was also heartbreaking. During the trip, Trahan said fathers would drive their family to the border and say goodbye, children were separated from their parents and there was an uncertainty as to what happens next.

While in Moldova near the Palanca border crossing, Trahan said there were many refugees coming from the city of Odesa. Many had left behind parents and siblings to flee the country. Others were out of Ukraine, but still wanted to find a way to support the cause.

At the border crossing, Trahan said she met three sisters ages 16, 17 and 19. They were among those leaving parents behind, choosing to cross the border with their church.

“While they were there, they were volunteering themselves. They know that there are a lot of young people their age who are crossing scared, anxious, as to whether they’re ever going to be able to return home or to see their loved ones again. They wanted to be there,” Trahan said.

For Trahan, it was another reminder that Russian President Vladimir Putin had underestimated the will of the Ukrainian people.

As the fighting continues, Trahan said there needs to be a continued effort to give Ukraine and U.S. allies in the region humanitarian and lethal aid. After meeting with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division in Poland, she said it is important Romania and Poland feel an American presence.

“There’s anxiety on the eastern flank because no one knows how far Vladimir Putin is going to take his aggression,” Trahan said. “So, you’re reminded when you are abroad and you are in our allied countries that they very much appreciate the support and the fortitude and the strength that the United States brings.”

With Americans feeling the effects at home with increased fuel and home heating costs, Trahan said there is an effort on the part of the Biden administration to drive costs down. Over the next 190 days, 1 million barrels of oil will be released from the strategic reserves.

President Biden has also announced that the U.S. would accept 100,000 refugees. Trahan said some colleagues are asking if the number is high enough.

“One of the things that I learned being on the ground there is that there are many Ukrainians who don’t want to go far from home,” Trahan said.

Instead of coming to the U.S. or Canada, Trahan said many refugees want to be close. They want to be able to go home and check on their families, ensuring they are supplied. Many are still optimistic they will be able to return home and rebuild their country soon.

The refugees the U.S. does take will likely be those who have relatives in the country or in Canada.

“I have no doubt that we will raise that number if there are more people who want to come to the United States. Massachusetts and the United States as a whole have a great history of welcoming people who are seeking safety in our country,” Trahan said.

The delegation was led by U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-8th, of Boston. Other representatives on the trip included Democrat Chellie Pingree of Maine and Republicans Jake LaTurner of Kansas, Pat Fallon of Texas, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Mark Green of Tennessee.

But, the party affiliation didn’t matter while they were in Europe, Trahan said. Everyone was united in their support for the Ukrainian people, a departure from the divisiveness that can often be felt in Washington, D.C.

“We traveled together as Americans and I think that is another thing that Vladimir Putin has vastly underestimated,” Trahan said. “He has essentially united Ukraine. He’s united the European Union and united NATO. We’ve never been stronger than we are right now.”

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