Since the Ukraine Crisis began on 24 February 2022 an estimated 3.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine, and there are an estimated 6.5 million internally displaced within Ukraine, heading west towards Dnipro, Kyiv and Lviv.
There are significant numbers of disabled or seriously ill children amongst those making it through, some of whom have been transferred for ongoing critical care soon after arriving in Poland.
Humanity First teams have been working around the clock at Medyka on the Polish-Ukrainian border since 27 February, providing medical and food assistance to Ukrainian refugees with volunteers on rotation. At Medyka, our team has seen 3-4 thousand people streaming through every day. HF is collaborating with UN agencies on the ground such as WHO, WFP, IOM and OCHA.
Most of the refugees in this part of Poland have been arriving via Lviv by car, coach or train and, having crossed the border, many have been able to get onward logistics and shelter arrangements through the excellent organisation by Polish authorities in Przemsyl, or further afield in Krakow and Warsaw.
Our medical volunteers have been treating patients presenting with a combination of fatigue, headache, sore throat and fever. The main needs are primary care rather than trauma injuries on the Polish side. So far, our medical volunteers have treated 723 patients including a group of 50 orphans, and consulted hundreds more. Because HF has been providing medical services for a few weeks here, the team have been receiving donated medication and the HF medical marquee is equipped with a defibrillator, portable ventilator and an ambulance.
Humanity First also established a gazebo at the Medyka camp being run by the Polish Red Cross.
Every day, our team has been providing warm drinks and warm meals to those crossing into Poland. The queues on the Ukraine side have been lengthy and slow, HF has been providing hundreds of warm meals to those in the queues on the Ukrainian side. So far, HF has provided around 18,000 warm meals and more than 16,000 warm drinks of tea or coffee. We have even started providing fries for the children and provided 2,700 breakfast sandwiches. Refugees have been struggling to contact their loved ones, so our team has also handed out 800 free mobile SIM cards, and over 13 thousand bags containing hygiene kits and high energy food.
Through the co-operation of border authorities, our team has also been working in Ukraine, both for refugees trying to cross the border, and also taking resources to Lviv and other areas.
Medication and resources have been sent into Ukraine sufficient to treat at least 10,000 patients.
A small response is also being started at the Moldova border. HF is setting up a system to support refugees at a number of camps near the border area.
Other HF branches across Europe and North America have been supporting with resources, funds and volunteers. Medical volunteers with experience of working in emergency situations are currently on standby to assist.
The team in Medyka are co-operating with local authorities and the Red Cross on a daily basis to improve processes around effectiveness, communications, safety and safeguarding at the camp. They have also been visited by many politicians and senior officials, as well as being interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Asahi TV, VOI Radio, NTV, HAZ and WELT.
Communications to our team on the ground have improved since local authorities installed a mobile mast near the border camps.
Our assessment on the ground suggeststhere is no current need for HF to collect and send clothing, shoes or toys to the border areas. Most of the refugees have the belongings in a suitcase and do not have room to take additional items. Funds raised are being used to access resources locally based on the demand we are seeing from the refugees themselves.
Refugees from Ukraine have also been crossing the borders into Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia,
Russia and Romania, and HF continues to assess needs at these other locations.