Ukraine Emergency: over 1 million refugees

© Photo credits Kieran McConville Concern Worldwide

We are now, according to UNHCR, at more than 1 million refugees who have crossed the borders of Ukraine. Most have found refuge in Poland, followed by Hungary and Moldova.

Complex operational situation

Our emergency team of international conflict management experts reports an extremely complex and evolving operational situation. Access restrictions and rapidly changing front lines make it difficult to deliver essential supplies and services. The strength of our Alliance2015 network ensured that we were able to distribute the relief items that arrived in L’viv through People in Need to meet the enormous needs. Half of the people in transit are children. There is an extreme need for help.

First facilities at the border

In Ukraine near Velykyi Bereznyi – where the situation is critical – we have finished with PIN colleagues the construction of a heated tent where refugees can rest or even sleep while waiting to cross the border. Here they receive food, hot drinks, hygiene items and possibly even SIM cards topped with data and minutes from volunteers. The tent can accommodate up to 200 people and is equipped with sanitary facilities: people come here after leaving their homes, their lives, taking with them the bare essentials. They are exhausted by the war and the long days in the cold and under the fires caused by the explosions.

At the border crossings with Moldova and Romania, we are coordinating with local NGOs to scale up aid, while on the border with Slovakia we are building the first facilities to receive refugees.

Social assistance

We are not forgetting psychosocial assistance. People who have had to leave their homes and flee the fighting are very shaken up and need more than just material support. That’s why we are trying to set up a system of crisis intervention and psychosocial assistance. For now, these are small numbers, but unfortunately this need will increase dramatically as a result of witnessing traumatic events.

Risk of disease outbreaks: not only COVID-19

The health service shutdown coupled with conflict conditions continues to increase the vulnerability of the affected population to communicable diseases such as COVID-19, polio and measles. Low vaccination coverage increases the risk of outbreaks of preventable communicable diseases, particularly among children. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recent polio cases reported in the west of the country highlight this risk. In addition, conditions of confinement in shelters, population displacement and damage to infrastructure make it difficult to maintain hygiene, increasing the risk of respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases, which could quickly have a major impact.

Continue to stand by our side in supporting the emergency.

© Photo credits: Kieran McConville/Concern Worldwide