May 20, 2022

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“All women, children and elderly” have been evacuated from Azovstal, Ukrainian government says

US first lady Jill Biden and Romanian first lady Carmen Iohannis visit with Ukrainian refugee students and teachers at the Uruguay School in Bucharest, Romania, on May 7. (Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

US first lady Jill Biden, accompanied by Romanian first lady Carmen Iohannis, visited a school earlier this morning where they talked with Ukrainian and Romanian educators, spoke to Ukrainian mothers and met with children.

Following her visit to the Uruguay School, Biden spoke shortly to reporters before boarding a plane, discussing the emotional impact of her visit to the school and the bravery of the mothers she met.

“It was so emotional, right? I think that really the Ukrainians know that we are standing with them,” Biden told reporters.

“You can see it; those children really have suffered,” she added.
“In a lot of ways, the teachers are the glue that help these kids deal with their trauma and deal with the emotion and help give them a sense of normalcy,” Biden said.

Inside a classroom, children told Biden they were tracing their hands and making cutouts from copies of the Ukrainian and Romanian flags. At one point, a small girl approached the first lady holding her handprint cutout of the Ukrainian flag. Biden asked her to share her message, and a translator next to the girl said that she said, “I want to return to my father.” 

Biden sat down at a table to talk to a group of children who, according to their teacher, were working on a drawing of what the world would look like without war.

US first lady Jill Biden and Romanian first lady Carmen Iohannis meet with teachers and refugees at the Uruguay School in Bucharest, Romania, on May 7. (Octav Ganea/AFP/Getty Images)

The first ladies also had a listening session with educators and refugees. 

Anastasia Konovalvoa, a Ukrainian teacher who fled in March to Romania, was among those who shared her story. 

“I crossed the border with my 3-year-old son and everything I was thinking about was how to save my child from a city that was bombed,” she said. “Thank God the Romanian people were here. I think even the Romanian didn’t expect that they could be so wonderful because you don’t expect that from people.”

“We stand with you,” Biden told her. “I hope you know that,” later adding, “I think you are the amazing ones, really.”

Biden also thanked Iohannis and said the Romanian people are “heroes.”

After the listening session, they went outside where students sang the Romanian national anthem followed by the Ukrainian military march song. 

Biden is now headed to Slovakia. 

This post also includes information from pool reports.