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UkraineNow: The harsh reality and daily danger for Ukrainian refugees on the Mexico/US border

(Editor’s note: This report on Ukrainian refugees on the border of the United States and Mexico is provided courtesy of UkraineNow and posted here with permission. You can read the original version here.)

Hi everyone, Artur Kiulian here. I just came back from Tijuana, Mexico. And if you don’t know what this city is, it’s literally the most dangerous city ever, in case you didn’t know.

And there are a thousand Ukrainians stuck there now. Sleeping in camp chairs under tents and in tents, just outside the border.

Watch our quick report (more footage coming soon, literally edited this in 5 mins we had)

Artur Kiulian with UkraineNow

Why are Ukrainian people coming to Mexico?

Because apparently there is a major push on social media saying it’s so easy to cross from Mexico to USA. Like you just fly in and you are in. No visas needed, you just cross with humanitarian parole.

It is NOT easy. And it is not safe. At all.

More than that, it’s life threatening. You have high chances of actually dying. Your kids, your relatives, you.

Why is this social media push happening? I don’t know; maybe because governments are so slow to do actual response and handle this properly?

I’m not here to criticize but as a Ukrainian that is trying to bring my family to USA for five weeks now and keeps fighting the system without ANY results, I can relate to why people are desperate just to fly in and try.

Also, who knows, but there may be Russian bots spreading this information, too. Because guess what … there are a lot of Russian there on the border trying to sneak in. Moreover, they fake Ukrainian documents, passports, driver licenses and pretend to be refugees from Ukraine.

How crazy is that?

Click to read post

Especially since I was told by locals that rich Russians are paying $40,000 to unofficially cross the border in the desert.

Very nice.

Everyone is probably happy these wealthy people are using their blood money and getting into USA. Crazy. Sorry for being sarcastic, but I’ve seen very bad things on the border and I didn’t sleep much, so I’m emotional as most of people are now after seeing all the atrocities in Ukraine.

Our information hub team #i10 is working hard to creating a guide for why NOT to go to Mexico and how to be safe if you still ended up there … coming soon.

Cry for Help.

There are 1000-plus people in the queue now. They are letting in 50-to-100 people per day. Mostly the pregnant/sick/elderly get in. It’s not easy and you have to fill out forms and prove you are not a financial liability to U.S. government. That you have people that will pay for everything in USA.

There are 300-plus people in the refugee camp next to the border. It’s just tents, canopies and camp chairs, and a lot of small kids running around, surrounded by sketchy people trying to steal those kids, and I’m not making this up. It’s a real thing and a matter of time. Human trafficking is real and evil things didn’t disappear because everyone feels sorry for Ukrainians ….

MEXICO-US-UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT
CBS News (Click to read post)

My wife and I met with key coordinators. Fortunately a lot of Ukrainians who live in the USA were able to come ASAP and started buying supplies and setting up camp. It’s somewhat organized but these people don’t sleep at all, they work 24/7. I spoke to Eli and he barely speaks because he’s so tired. But they are making things happen, the power of individual at its best. There is no red cross that is funded by billions now doing this, it’s all regular people buying things.

We interviewed Eli (coordinator volunteer from USA)

And we, UkraineNow.org, bought some basic needs like women hygiene products, water, snacks and baby wipes (there are a lot of small kids).

We also bought some Kinder surprise candies for kids because they need it. That’s all bought on your donations, guys. There is no big corporation or anyone donating to us. All the other big orgs that are successful with financing are focused on Ukrainian supply chains and sending things to warehouses in Poland etc. where things are already abundant and not even reaching Ukraine.

I’ve tried numerous times to get connected with other Ukrainian orgs but they are all overwhelmed and saying that they exist for years and we only exist for a month, so what kind of collaboration can we do ….

I understand. I understand everyone is doing what they can, and there are a lot of “new orgs” showing up and doing nothing. But we’ve been on BBC, FoxNews, USAToday, so come on, guys.

If someone has connection to the board of Nova Ukraine, that’s your time to ask them to pay attention to this post. Because that’s going to be my last attempt, officially.

My helpless attempt to get a 30 min meeting to collaborate
another response from their “board”

I’m really glad that Nova Ukraine will talk with us if we donate money. We raised $100k so far and they claim to have raised $14 million (!), so maybe we should ask donors to send us money so we can send Nova Ukraine money? A very efficient way way to raise money guys, thank you for all your help. Tweet at them or something?

Mexico Border Situation

Emotional: It’s bad, it’s brutal, it’s heart breaking. To see a child of 5 years old crying and asking mama, “How long will we wait? I can’t do it anymore.”

And yes, this sign does say “don’t keep food on the floor, there are RATS.” You read it right. That’s where people sleep. That’s where people eat. Just 10 minutes away from USA, two hours away from me, 10 hours away from Silicon Valley.

Facts:

  • ~1100+ people there already.
  • ~400 people arrived yesterday.
  • There are two border crossings active San Isidro and Otai.
  • There are three refugee camps: San Isidro, Otai and a central “hub” with supplies and places to sleep.
  • There somewhat efficient coordination happening there in Tijuana run by Ukrainian volunteers from the U.S.
  • VERY limited amount of people is let in due to Title 42, it’s basically 50-100 people per day on each crossing.
  • Because of the crazy overload, people are making very risky decisions to drive to another border crossing in Mexicali (Calexico)

And that’s where I want to bring everyone’s attention to. There is NOTHING in Mexicali on the coordination level, people are just hiring taxis and driving there. It’s so unsafe you can get shot just on the road there. So we need to bridge the coordination gap and educate people on risks. We are here to support but we can’t force people not to go where they want to go, we can only advise, as much as it hurts to hear all this stuff.

https://mx.usembassy.gov/security-alert-cartel-violence-mexicali-valley/

The reality of the situation on the ground is that most Ukrainians never heard of Narcos, Tijuana, drug cartels and tunnels. They are not stupid; they are just not aware of the risks. And there will be 10,000 refugees there very soon if this doesn’t improve on both sides of the equation. U.S. government removing Title 42 (only going to happen in May 23) and less Ukrainians coming to Mexico. I think the first side is actually more realistic than desperate people coming for help.

The reality is that most Ukrainians only have 2-to-3 months of savings left to survive in Europe, It’s VERY expensive to live there. And they are looking for solution. Like my family, who has tried to apply for U.S. visa, paid $700 for two women and two kids. Got rejected for appointment. Got a date of September … crazy right? Then got “recommendation” from senator’s office to just go to the embassy because that’s how they will get visa.

Guess what … they came and got turned away because they are not “on the list”. I’m very happy some people are able to get “on the list”, but 99 percent of people can’t. Then in parallel, they tried to get a Canadian visa, waited 10 days for biometric appointment, finally did it and were told just to wait for an indefinite time. Thahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPxp850aMoYnks to bureaucracy, people are burning out. They even went on TV to speak about their story and how UkraineNow volunteers helped them. Still nothing.

My family told me five times now that they are giving up and said they are coming back to Kyiv, crying all the time because of how stupid this whole thing is. What can I tell them when they see posts that Mexico is easy to cross to US? I can only send them educational materials and educate them about the risks.

That’s what I recommend you and your families and friends.

More videos coming soon.

Stay Tuned and reach out to [email protected] with subject #i3-mexico if you want to help.

————-

If you are an organization reading this – please help us financially, we are running out of money. I donated all my savings into this already.

If you are working for a company – ask your company to match your donations, support us with resources.

If you are human reading this – please help spread this article, share it. Tweet at people to bring attention on this.

TWEET HERE

About the author:

Artur Kiulian is a serial entrepreneur and a specialist in artificial intelligence, he is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs 40 and younger. Artur holds a Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence Systems and his writings in the field of AI have been featured across Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur.com.

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