OVER 800 TONNES OF AID TO UKRAINE DELIVERED BY TRAINS TO PEOPLE IN NEED IN ONE WEEKPublished: Mar 8, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
The trains carry durable food, hygiene supplies, medicines, or mattresses and sleeping bags for people hiding in shelters from bombs and bullets. The night trains bring back Ukrainian refugees. In one week, the trains carried nearly 2,200 of them. "The humanitarian corridor between the Czech Republic and Ukraine was organized in record time. It will operate as long as it is needed and as long as the situation allows," says Jan Mrkvička, Director of the Humanitarian and Development Section. People in Need want to direct them further east, where the situation is the worst.
Last Tuesday, the first of many trains carrying humanitarian aid to war-stricken areas of Ukraine threatened by food shortages departed. Since then, we have dispatched three more together with RegioJet and ČD Cargo.
Refugee trains for a symbolic price
Trains leave every other day at 20.25 from Prague's Main Train Station via Ostrava and Krakow to the Polish town of Przemysl, which lies right on the border with Ukraine. Here, humanitarian aid is transferred to trains of the Ukrainian Railways due to a different gauge. The aid then continues to the war zones, where it is taken over by the municipal authorities, which then also ensures the distribution of humanitarian material to those most in need. The first train arrived at Kyiv’s Darnytsya railway station on Friday morning, 4 March.
In the evening the train leaves back to the Czech Republic. Sleeping cars with a capacity of up to 600 beds are lined up on the train, carrying people fleeing Russian aggression from the Ukrainian-Polish border. In one week, almost 2,200 people were transported in this way, practically all of them women and children. Most of the passengers got off in Poland, in Krakow and Katowice, while a smaller number arrived in the Czech Republic.
The price of the ticket is a symbolic two Czech crowns; unfortunately, the reservation system does not accept zero amounts. However, it is possible to book a seat on the train free of charge via e-mail.
Humanitarian needs in Ukraine are growing
According to Peter Drbohlav, Regional Director for the Eastern Partnership countries, the number of refugees is increasing dramatically. "Whereas a week ago we saw people fleeing more as a precaution, today it is people who have actually been affected by the war and are therefore fleeing to safety." The number of people gathering at Lviv railway station, from where trains of the Ukrainian Railways transport them to Przemysl, is also growing. Here they have the opportunity to board a RegioJet night train that ends in Prague.
What did we transport to Ukraine by train bridge in one week?
Humanitarian train No.1 (1.3.)
- 261 pallets of hygiene pallets and food,
- 38 pallets of sleeping bags and mattresses,
- 37 pallets of power banks and hygiene,
- 15 pallets of medicines
Humanitarian train 2 (3.3)
- 87 pallets of baby food and baby toiletries (diapers),
- 110 pallets of normal, powdered and condensed milk,
- 54 pallets of sunflower oil, 140 pallets of durable foodstuffs (pasta, sugar, biscuits, margarine, canned meat, cereals, flour),
- 8 pallets of mattresses, 6 pallets of generators,
- 19 pallets of toilet paper,
- 24 pallets and 26 boxes of sleeping bags,
- 22 pallets of medical supplies and disinfectants
Humanitarian train 3 (5.3.)
-212 pallets of non-perishable food (pasta, cereals, nuts, ) instant food and toiletries and baby food (nappies, baby food)
- 104 pallets of coffee and caffeinated drinks and
- 42 pallets of milk, 21 pallets of toilet paper,
- 6 boxes of sleeping bags,
- 10 pallets of disinfectant wipes,
- 15 pallets of thermal clothing,
- 2 pallets of duvets and pillows
The aid to Ukraine was made possible thanks to the generosity of 13 Czech companies that supplied material aid directly on the order of local Ukrainian governments. The SOS Ukraine collection is still running and has raised CZK 1,293,526,000 as of 7 March. People in Need is also trying to operate aid on the ground and distribute money through grants to local and neighboring NGOs operating directly in Ukraine to provide assistance to people affected by the war