Your compassion saves lives.
“People are being pushed to their limit – their lives are changing by the hour. It is critical that we are there for them quickly.”
—James McDowell, Head of Global Emergency Response Team
Every single day, families in Ukraine are in fear for their lives and their futures. Millions have people have fled their homes, and some are trying to rebuild their lives after conflict and experiencing trauma. Of the nearly 14 million people displaced, 90 per cent are women and children.
The outpouring of support for refugees has been truly incredible. We mustn’t stop. This crisis is evolving quickly and rebuilding where we can will take years. Local organisations and volunteers are doing what they can, but they are overwhelmed as the fighting continues. We are on the ground providing urgent support to displaced families and the communities that host them.
For more than 30 years we have been responding to conflict-driven emergencies just like this one. Our Global Emergency Response Team is taking action. Will you join us?
Things you should know
We talk about a humanitarian crisis, what's the curent state of things?
So far nearly 14 million people have fled their homes. Some have gone to neighouring countries and many have sought refuge within Ukraine. The movement of people from east to west across Ukraine continues; local capacities are overwhelmed.
In this crisis we must be adapting to the changing needs of people who are potentially in need of shelter, access to health care, and who have experienced traumatic events. Many of the people who are displaced or transiting into neighbouring countries are seeking shelter in crowded spaces with limited sanitation facilities. Access to health services has been disrupted and in some areas the stock of medications is running low. Supply chains are not always working, and people who are displaced are at higher risk for for human trafficking and exploitation. Across Ukraine damaged infrastructure continues to impact the availability of safe drinking water, fuel, and electricity to conflict-affected families.
What is Medair doing?
Our Global Emergency Response team arrived in Poland in early March, just as thousands of refugees were crossing the border to safety. We are supporting four refugee reception centres in Poland to ensure that volunteer organisations are supported in their initiatives, and that refugees are protected from human trafficking and exploitation. We assist families who are hosting refugees in their homes and training volunteers in psychological first aid.
In Ukraine we have established teams in seven cities to ensure a viable supply chain and where we can support communities who are welcoming people from the conflict-affected areas. Along with identifying needs for critical relief items, Ukraine teams are conducting assessments of civil infrastructures including hospitals and water systems. Where local markets are functioning, the preferred option for delivering assistance will be through cash distributions.
Medair is offering psychosocial support activities and providing training in Psychological First Aid for staff and volunteers.
What does emergency relief currently look like?
Working with local partners is key to this response – the local communities have been the true first responders and our role is to stabilize, sustain and standardize the services being offered to refugees. The need to support and stabilize volunteer initiatives in the reception centres is immense. The enormous volunteer effort in Poland and the constantly changing situation inside Ukraine means that coordination takes time. We have a great reputation among local partners, municipal administrations. We have earned this reputation by liaising with these partners and bringing in our sector experts to advise on the best way to respond.
What other options are there?
Life-saving goods are urgently needed, but it is logistics which bring these to the needy. Just as important as the fundraising is the supply chain behind the scenes. When every second counts, the responders need to know what to do, and how to do it right. Professional humanitarian organizations have standard operating procedures, decision rules, and trained people who can deploy quickly. It’s better to donate cash rather than send individual packages to the scene. It is through professional logistics management that donations work to save more lives.
How can people be helped from the distance?
The best way to help now is to support emergency relief organizations, who know what is needed and have the necessary experience to respond, including technical and logistic aspects. These organizations assess the needs and respond accordingly. Medair has 30 years of experience in responding to humanitarian crisis for people affected by conflict and natural disasters. We know what is needed when people have lost everything.
What do people need first?
People arriving at the border need practical support such as with food, shelter and medical services. But the trauma they have experienced must not be forgotten. People were forced to flee their homes, separated from loved ones, and had long and dangerous journeys. This has a huge impact on people’s mental health. The main health need expressed by incoming Ukrainians was assistance with stress. In Poland, Medair will therefore provide Psychological First Aid training to community volunteers working in refugee reception centres. In Ukraine, Medair will provide online staff care to mental health professionals and provide remote capacity building training sessions on the provision of trauma-sensitive support.
How are the people feeling? Do they have a perspective for the future?
It’s hard to talk about future prospective. Nobody can predict how long the conflict will be going on. Many are hoping to be able to return to their homes, but nobody can say how long this conflict will take. We are there to make sure that people get what they need right now and to make sure that the support is sustainable on the long run.
Medair is working in some of the hardest hit countries around the world and it is important to bear in mind that there are also other crises. The UN International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) reports that food prices and shortages of staple crops are already been felt in the Middle East and North Africa. A major hunger crisis is also being felt in the Horn of Africa due to a catastrophic drought. Forty per cent of wheat and corn from Ukraine is exported to the Middle East and Africa, and the conflict has affected the supply and access to ports for transporting the grain.
Report specifically sites Lebanon: “22 percent of families in Lebanon are food insecure and food shortages or further price hikes will exacerbate an already desperate situation. The country imports up to 80 percent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, but can only store about one month’s worth of the crop at a time due to the blast in Beirut’s port in 2020 that destroyed the country’s major grain silos”.
Photo copyrights: © AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda and © AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti