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Trahan, in Poland, meets with Ukrainian refugees05:37
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A Ukrainian refugee takes a cup of soup at the train station in Przemysl, Poland. Poland has admitted some 1.95 million refugees fleeing war and Russian aggression on Ukraine. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)
A Ukrainian refugee takes a cup of soup at the train station in Przemysl, Poland. Poland has admitted some 1.95 million refugees fleeing war and Russian aggression on Ukraine. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

A group of U.S. lawmakers led by Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch spent the weekend in Poland to see first-hand the plight of refugees who've fled Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia.

Congresswoman Lori Trahan was part of the seven-member bipartisan delegation. The group spent time in the Polish city of Rzeszów, where it visited a refugee assistance center, and the border city of Przemyśl, where refugees have been entering from Ukraine.

Trahan spoke Monday afternoon with WBUR's All Things Considered host Lisa Mullins.

Interview Highlights

On what she learned on her trip

"I think what I learned on the ground is the true devastation that is happening in Ukraine. Families are being separated from one another, having to make difficult decisions. Moms and their children are fleeing these cities that have become besieged, while men — brothers and dads — are staying back to fight.

"I spoke with a woman from Lviv who is hopeful she's going to get to return, but of course anxious because she's left so much behind, including her husband and her father.

"To be here and to have the conversations and to see it up close, it's just really intense. It's been an emotional couple of days."

On the gratitude of Ukrainian refugees in Poland

"Most folks are so grateful for the community in Poland. There are over 2 million refugees from Ukraine who have come to Poland and they're not staying in camps; they're staying in people's homes. And so the outpouring of love and support has been incredible. And they're also grateful for all the aid that is coming to their country.

"They've got a conviction and a resolve to fight — to fight tyranny, to fight autocracy, to fight against an unjustified invasion by Vladimir Putin. And they want weapons — they want to have the ability to fight for their freedom and they understand the stakes of what's on the line. They understand this is a fight for democracy worldwide."

Her response to constituents who might be critical of the amount of money the U.S. is spending on this conflict

"I think people understand exactly what's at stake right now. This is a peaceful, democratic, sovereign neighbor who was just invaded by a deranged authoritarian leader. And we've seen this in our history before. This is why we have NATO. This is why the response has been so swift and so united and so strong. We understand what's at stake because we've been here before and I think people understand that.

"Frankly, there are calls to do more, if anything. So I think that it's an important moment in our history to defend democracy, to defend freedom and to not allow a ruthless dictator to trample on the rights of a peaceful democratic neighbor."

This article was originally published on March 21, 2022.

This segment aired on March 21, 2022.

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Lisa Mullins is the voice of WBUR’s All Things Considered. She anchors the program, conducts interviews and reports from the field.

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