World Vision responds to growing child needs as Romania’s exhibition centre converted into mass refugee shelter

Imagine if Sydney’s convention centre or Rod Laver Arena were turned into makeshift shelters for hundreds of people fleeing across the borders?

That’s the reality in Bucharest, Romania, where the country’s largest exhibition centre Romexpo, has become a ground zero for refugees requiring shelter and essential items. 

With the number of refugees flowing into Romania expected to soar in coming weeks and as the country continues to grapple with the increasing needs, World Vision has provided much needed aid assistance to the country’s largest refugee shelter. A shelter that is a haven for predominately women, children and the elderly.

World Vision this week delivered four truckloads of supplies to the sprawling Romexpo refugee shelter, including baby food, hygiene products, baby food, nappies, food items, sterilisers and other items. The organisation plans to help 450,000 people in the first six months with Ukrainian refugees already flooding to the centre seeking assistance with basic needs.

The assistance comes as the total numbers of Ukrainians entering Romania hit 500,000 this week, with 10 million people now displaced inside and outside of Ukraine.

The make-shift refugee centre has set up 560 beds but has capacity for 2000. These are on top of the 6000 officially provided beds by the Bucharest city council, and has been set up in anticipation of a Russian advance into the city of Odesa. The city is predicting an extra 10,000 refugees will flee to Bucharest if Odesa becomes caught up in the conflict.

World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth, an international authority on refugees who has worked for 25 years in the world’s toughest places, said staff would continue to supply much-needed essentials for refugee shelters, like Romexpo, in the same way that goods were being delivered into hospitals within Ukraine.

“Our role is to support where the greatest needs are for infants and children,” he said.

“What we’ve got there is a shelter already set up and operating, allowing us to step in and provide swift and effective assistance for the refugee population in Bucharest, supplying goods we know are needed after consulting with the centre,” said Daniel, who recently returned to Australia from the border of Romania and Ukraine, where he supported refugees and led a mercy dash into a Ukraine hospital.

“This will be the first of many truckloads of supplies that World Vision will provide to the shelter, as we anticipate refugee numbers to continue growing and needs to soar.

“And with food prices forecast to increase by between 8 and 22 per cent, it’s going to become a lot harder for those fleeing to feed their children and access basic supplies like baby formula.”

Centre manager Cosmina Simean said while the centre was only intended as an overflow shelter and had not been publicly announced, refugees had already heard about it via their social media networks and were arriving seeking food and items including clothing and baby products.

“This week it’s already in the hundreds,” Ms Simean said. “The need is huge, especially for baby items. The assistance from World Vision is going to help thousands of people currently in Bucharest.”

In response to the burgeoning crisis, World Vision is scaling up its response in three countries: Romania, Ukraine and Moldova.

With a presence in Romania for more than three decades, World Vision’s locally led team was able to respond to the Ukraine crisis immediately when the conflict began. Staff have also been responding to the refugee crisis at border crossings and in nearby towns with water, food and hygiene kits, child play areas as well as heaters to the mother-and-child rest stations.

The aid organisation is also assisting people as they cross through the country and is aiming to reach at 200,000 people within Romania, 50,000 within Ukraine and 20,000 inside Moldova. It is also supporting many of the estimated 4500 refugees who have fled to Georgia.


Media Contact:

For further information or to organise an interview, please contact: Emergencies Media Advisor Elissa Doherty,, 040 999 4433.


Link to footage and photos:


World Vision Australia Ukraine Crisis Appeal:

For Australians who want to help, go to World Vision Australia’s Ukraine crisis appeal at


Social Media: Follow World Vision CEO Daniel Wordsworth further for how we are helping:

o Twitter: @dwordsworth    o Instagram: @daniel.wordsworth

o LinkedIn:

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