Updates from Ukraine & How to Help

A week after the Russian army invaded Ukraine, members of the Indigo team went to two main hotspots in Poland and Slovakia to begin gathering information to coordinate efforts and support grassroots initiatives.

Please see below some updates - it is important to note that due to the rapidly changing situation on the ground, much of the information shared below may soon be out of date.


 

Update from the Ukrainian borders

 

Latest UNCHR update from March 31.

The UN says more than 4 million people, mostly women and children, fled Ukraine since the Russian army invaded. Most sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

The current prediction is that at least 5 million people will leave Ukraine, from a population of more than 44 million people. The map below shows the distribution of refugees to neighbouring countries.

http://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine


The Polish refugee response

The government's reception points that we visited are located in large venues and provide basic shelter, food, water, non-food items and registration desks for people to arrange further transportation. The police and military are present and work alongside volunteers of different international and local NGOs. The Polish Red Cross is taking the lead on medical care. All reception centres were incredibly crowded, but seemed to be managed effectively by the authorities and up to hundreds of local volunteers. The response seems to be almost fully run by Polish or Ukrainian-speaking locals and there is no big international NGO presence yet.

The Slovakian refugee response


Transportation & Human Trafficking

As most men are forced to stay and fight for Ukraine, refugee families consist mainly of women and children. Local NGOs have shared concerns about the risk of human trafficking, especially given the many voluntary drivers offering to take vulnerable people away from the border and into private accommodation.

Salam Lab, an NGO in Krakow, have set up a helpline to support refugees who struggle to cross the Ukrainian-Polish border and help people with accommodation and their journey onwards. Their current focus is on creating a safe transportation network to protect refugees against human trafficking and they have set up a website to register drivers: transporterua.com.

Aid into Ukraine

We witnessed several humanitarian convoys and vans actively collecting donations from different individuals before taking it across the border. If you want to support aid-delivery efforts we suggest contacting initiatives in the area you live in, or consulting one of the collection points along the border. You can stay updated on aid needs through the Frontline.live map or by following Sunflower Relief for updates on supplies needed.

Non-Ukrainian refugees

The situation for non-Ukrainian refugees, particularly people of colour, remains unclear. Minority groups do often seem to be discriminated against and treated separately, regardless of their legal status.

 

How to help

 

Here are some ways you can help.

1) Host Ukrainian refugees

If you want to host refugees, please sign up at EU4UA.org and you will be receiving requests from refugees families.

2) Volunteer remotely with Indigo

3) Stay put

To be informed about about volunteer opportunities and other ways you can help, please sign up below.


Want to volunteer now?


Our wonderful partners in France, Greece, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lebanon are continuing to help refugees and all need volunteers! We strongly urge you to consider volunteering at any of the places listed on our website.



 

Closing Remarks

 

What became clear through this visit along the Polish and Slovakian borders of Ukraine is that the response in both countries has only just started. With the war in Ukraine taking a turn for the worse and the international humanitarian sector getting ready to move in, the situation on the ground might look very different in the near future.

Continued monitoring and mapping will certainly be needed to keep track of the crisis and ensure that we are able to respond to gaps and escalations when they occur.


Please keep an eye on our social media - @IndigoVolunteers - to stay up to date on the situation and on where your support is most needed.








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