We are helping refugees at the Ukrainian border and in Lviv, Ukraine. We have already raised over 920 million Czech crownsPublished: Mar 2, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
More than half a million people fleeing from Ukraine to neighbouring countries desperately need our help. People in Need is already building facilities for them, providing food, hygiene supplies, and psychosocial assistance, mainly on the border with Slovakia. At the crossings with Moldova and Romania, it financially supports and coordinates local NGOs that help refugees on their arduous journey.
On March 1st, PIN sent a humanitarian train from Prague to Lviv, following up on the trucks that arrived on February 28th. A local PIN team began forwarding this aid from Lviv to elsewhere in Ukraine. Additionally, the Czech public as well as various companies has generously donated 920 million CzK to the SOS Ukraine collection account in response to the unfolding crisis.
According to the UN, 670,000 people have already fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries. Border crossings are filling up, local capacities are overstretched, and the situation is opaque. People often wait up to two days at the border, with outside temperatures dropping well below zero at night.
"Border crossings are open, but the flow is often hampered by bureaucracy. People wait in queues for as long as six to 12 hours in some places, which is really challenging, especially during freezing nights. On the positive side, most of the refugees so far seem to know where they are going - friends, family, acquaintances, ...," says Marek Štys, head of humanitarian aid at People in Need, who is present at the border. "But of course, this can change over the days as the conflict escalates. If a wave of refugees with no contacts arrives and asks for asylum, the whole situation could become seriously complicated," Štys adds.
People in Need, in cooperation with partner organisation People in Need Slovakia, has had a team working on the Slovak-Ukrainian border since 26th February. Humanitarian workers in Ukraine near Velky Berezny—where the situation is critical— built facilities for people waiting for border control. PIN has provided toilets, a heated tent with food, hot tea and other urgent material aid.
In the eastern Slovak village of Vyšné Nemecké, there are also toilets and a large heated tent with a capacity of up to 200 people where refugees can rest or even sleep. They receive food, drink, hygiene items and possibly even charged SIM cards from volunteers.
We also monitor the small pedestrian crossing of Velké Slemence, where there is a small flow of refugees. Meanwhile, on the Ukrainian side of this crossing, People in Need has delivered mattresses to enable those in need to rest.
"We are not forgetting psychosocial assistance. People who had to leave their homes and flee the fighting are often shaken and need not only material support. That is why we are trying to set up a system of crisis intervention and psychosocial assistance in both Uble and Vyshne Nemets. Fortunately, those in need are still in units or small tens, but unfortunately, this need can grow dramatically," says Marek Štys.
Border with Moldova and Romania - support for local initiatives
People in Need is also mapping the situation at border crossings in Romania and Moldova. Jan Pejřil, a PIN coordinator, on the Moldovan border, explains that "People in Need has decided to support the newly emerging platforms for coordination of volunteers and assistance in Romania and Moldova, and other entities that operate directly at the border crossings. They will receive money for the necessary operational costs and the purchase of the necessary material aid,".
People in Need is also monitoring the situation in Hungary and Poland, where it will provide assistance based on the needs identified.