ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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International Women’s Day brings little joy for Ukrainian refugees

Kind gestures of strangers handing out flowers do little to ease the suffering of anxious refugees who fled their homes in face of Russian invasion, many with small children in tow

  • A Romanian Immigrations officer gives flowers to a refugee fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine after she crossed the border on International Women's Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
    A Romanian Immigrations officer gives flowers to a refugee fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine after she crossed the border on International Women's Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
  • An elderly lady pauses after fleeing Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
    An elderly lady pauses after fleeing Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
  • A woman puts her head in her hands as she sits on a cot in a shelter, set up for displaced persons fleeing Ukraine, inside a school gymnasium in Przemysl, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    A woman puts her head in her hands as she sits on a cot in a shelter, set up for displaced persons fleeing Ukraine, inside a school gymnasium in Przemysl, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • A woman holds a baby in a bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
    A woman holds a baby in a bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
  • Volunteers hold flowers to give to women fleeing the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine on International Women's Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
    Volunteers hold flowers to give to women fleeing the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine on International Women's Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
  • A woman carries a child in a winter suit, after fleeing Ukraine and arriving at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
    A woman carries a child in a winter suit, after fleeing Ukraine and arriving at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
  • Refugees fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine hold flowers, on International Women's Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
    Refugees fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine hold flowers, on International Women's Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
  • A young woman looks out from a train heading to Krakow, after fleeing Ukraine, at the train station at border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
    A young woman looks out from a train heading to Krakow, after fleeing Ukraine, at the train station at border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
  • A refugee fleeing the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine holds a bunch of roses, on International Women's Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, Tuesday, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
    A refugee fleeing the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine holds a bunch of roses, on International Women's Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, Tuesday, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
  • An elderly woman is coated in snow as she sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated from Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
    An elderly woman is coated in snow as she sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated from Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The mouth of a harried woman who has just fled war-battered Ukraine curves up in a tentative smile when a Romanian immigrations officer hands her a purple tulip he has plucked from a bouquet.

A glimmer of hope and gratitude appear on the face of another woman as she clutches a container of food and accepts a single pink tulip from a Catholic priest at a train station in Poland.

But even the kind gestures of strangers on International Women’s Day were a weak palliative Tuesday for the anxious refugees who fled their homes, many with small children in tow.

Instead of the chocolates, flowers, and kisses their friends and families in Ukraine usually bestow upon them, they instead have graciously made do with blooms proffered by unknown hands and the gift of safe refuge in a foreign country.

Photographs taken by Associated Press photographers capture just how difficult and emotionally painful the journey has been: the sorrow of a woman who buries her face in her hands as she sits on a cot in a school gymnasium-turned refugee shelter in Przemysl, Poland; the grimace of an elderly, snow-covered woman in a wheelchair who clutches a pink pillow in her lap as she is pushed along a road after being evacuated from the Ukrainian city of Irpin; a recent evacuee from Irpin who pauses on a rain and snow-saturated street, places a hand over her heart and stares down at the cold, wet pavement.

For women who have been unable to flee, finding safety was the most important goal on this international holiday. An AP photographer captured one such woman holding and comforting a small child in her arms after taking refuge in a makeshift bomb shelter in the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol.

A woman holds a baby in a bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A woman puts her head in her hands as she sits on a cot in a shelter, set up for displaced persons fleeing Ukraine, inside a school gymnasium in Przemysl, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A Romanian Immigrations officer gives flowers to a refugee fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine after she crossed the border on International Women’s Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
An elderly woman is coated in snow as she sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated from Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
An elderly lady pauses after fleeing Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Refugees fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine hold flowers, on International Women’s Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
A young woman looks out from a train heading to Krakow, after fleeing Ukraine, at the train station at border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A woman carries a child in a winter suit, after fleeing Ukraine and arriving at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
A refugee fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine holds a bunch of roses, on International Women’s Day, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, Tuesday, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

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