People cross the Medyka border crossing from Ukraine to Poland. | © Tom Nicholson / HI
As HI continues its assessment of humanitarian needs in the Ukraine: Refugees live in harsh conditions; vulnerable populations lack accessible information.
Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, HI is continuing its needs assessment throughout the country, as well as Romania and Moldova to collect information and will launch its emergency response operations as soon as possible. The teams consist of technical experts in rehabilitation, mental health and psychosocial support, logistics, security, basic needs and emergency management to identify the most pressing concerns and prepare the appropriate response.
Within Ukraine, HI is also coordinating with authorities and collecting information about the needs and care of individuals injured in the recent violent attacks. The organization is preparing ways to support hospitals, train health specialists and accommodate people with specific needs such as disabilities or medical conditions.
In Moldova, HI has begun visiting some of the 78 evacuation centers throughout the country, where tens of thousands have fled to escape the bombing and shelling of the conflict.
“Hundreds of families- mostly women and children- sleep side by side with very few of their belongings,” says Fanny Mraz, HI’s emergency manager. “The centers vary widely in the number of people they can accommodate and in the conditions they can provide, often with insufficient supplies such as food, water and soap.”
More and more people are leaving Ukraine, often spending days travelling through insecure regions and dangerously low temperatures. Even upon arrival at the border, the next steps remain unclear.
“We see older people arriving in alarming conditions,” Fanny says. “Some are collapsing to the ground at the border, with no more strength after days of travelling in the cold. The waiting areas are not adapted for people with specific needs, and they struggle to continue onward to the resources they require.”
Another major issue for refugees is a lack of information.
“Over 14,000 people are pouring into Moldova each day,” Fanny continues. “But it is not always clear where they can go after they arrive, or how to get there. This is an even greater issue for people with disabilities or in need of adapted information and specialized services.”
Over 2 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, seeking safety in surrounding countries. At least a million people have been internally displaced, though the actual number is expected to be much higher, with nearly 7 million at risk of displacement. The situation continues to evolve each day with great uncertainty.