Magnificus Plaza: From a wedding hall to a refugee shelter
Suceava, Romania, Mar 5 (EFE).- In under just two weeks, the Magnificus Plaza, a reception center in Romania’s city of Suceava, went from hosting weddings to a shelter for the thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.
Since Russian troops started the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, over 1,500 refugees have been accommodated free of charge in the party hall and hotel, according to the owner of Magnificus Plaza, Stefan Mandachi.
“People arrive, they sleep one or two nights and then leave. We also offer food, and then from here buses leave for Germany, Italy or Spain,” Gianina Mandrila, a student who has been working as a volunteer to help Ukrainian refugees, tells Efe.
One of these refugees is Eugenia Lastiuka, who is from the southwestern Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi, close to the Romanian border.
Latiuska is traveling with her four children and other family members.
“We want to go to Spain, to Madrid, where my sister lives and works,” she says.
Ioana Samoilescu works in public relations at Magnificus, but since just over a week, she has been managing the massive influx of refugees.
“Romanian drivers and transport companies are offering to take refugees to their destinations free of charge. Drivers from Western Europe have also started to arrive, they are crossing the continent twice to bring Ukrainian refugees to their countries,” she tells Efe.
Ana Sibura has just arrived in Romania after fleeing Kyiv by car with her mother and seven dogs.
“We still don’t know what we are going to do, where we are going to go,” she says, but rules out leaving her country for good.
Yana Azadalieva, has also just arrived by car with her husband and their dog from Kharkiv, one of the cities which has been worst affected by shelling.
She shows Efe pictures and videos of the neighborhood where she used to live, now devastated by bombs, while waiting for their friends from Germany to pick them up.
As well as offering shelter, the volunteers and staff of the party hall are helping refugees get in contact with Romanian people who have offered to host them in their homes.
Mandachi says over five thousand refugees have benefited from this service.
“There is an unprecedented mobilization,” Samoilescu says. EFE