Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees

by Peace Winds Japan
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees
Emergency Support for Ukrainian Refugees

Project Report | Mar 4, 2022
1st Report: Supporting refugees arriving in Poland

By Peace Winds Japan | Project Leader

Ukraine refugees project in Poland
Ukraine refugees project in Poland

Peace Winds Japan has dispatched staff to Poland to respond to the crisis in Ukraine, and is coordinating with local partner organizations in Ukraine to help provide much-needed assistance.

Currently, our partner organizations in Ukraine are in need of medical supplies, fuel, transportation for evacuation, and food. First and foremost PWJ is providing medical supplies, such as intravenous drips, medicine, gauze, and so on, to approximately 20 hospitals and clinics in Kiev, and then procuring food and medical supplies to support medical facilities that provide mother and child care.

The 325-km road from Warsaw, Poland to the Ukrainian border at Hrebenne, leaving at 3:00 a.m. on March 2, was flat and empty, and we arrived close to the border without any delays. At the local police checkpoint there we were told that vehicles meeting refugees from Ukraine would be allowed to pass through. When we told them that we were a Japanese NGO and were here to support those refugees, and that we wanted to take video footage to report back to Japan, they readily agreed.

Lining the road leading out from the border were a number of support booths, where displaced Ukrainians could receive relief supplies, make rest stops, and receive free SIM cards for phones. Free buses were also in operation, and arrangements were made to get people out of the border area and on to their destinations. Conversely, there was some information coming through that some border points were experiencing only small numbers of refugees, possibly due to the poor conflict situation on the Ukrainian side.

At the emergency relief booths, medical supplies, food, snacks, hot drinks, towels, and other items are shelved and can be taken freely, said a member of Caritas, an international NGO that is providing support in the area, adding that the booths are open 24 hours a day. “When the situation at the border calms down and there is less need for assistance here, we may move to other border points where there is more confusion. The government is in charge of coordinating that.”

Two of those refugees who had got through the border were Natalia, a single mother, and her daughter Ananda, who had evacuated from Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, They told us that as soon as they saw Russian troops they had got into their car and fled, leaving all their belongings behind picking up supplies at the Caritas booth, where they were offered hot drinks. They said they didn’t know anyone in Poland, but had fled anyway, and it took them two days to get across the border. "I don't know what we’re going to do now," said Natalia, who looked weary from the trip. 

We also came across a couple from the Polish side who said they had come to pick up refugees. They said they had come to pick up a family of six, including a grandmother, two children, and relatives, who were in Mariupol, Ukraine, and had waited in hope that they would be able to cross the border more quickly. However, the Ukrainian family had still not been able to enter the country, so they had waited anxiously for a long time, their eyes fixed on the border. When we asked if there was anything they wanted to tell us since this interview was to be taken back to Japan, she said, "I want peace where everyone can live together.”

We moved to Zamosc, a city about 50 km from the border, where refugees were allowed to rest for two days while they gathered supplies and information and made any necessary amendments to their travel plans. While we were there, local residents were bringing in items one after another that they thought the refugees might need. They also provided vehicles.

Marek, an official from the Zamosc city hall, told us that they were transporting supplies to a municipality in Ukraine, with the help of the Ukrainian police. He showed us pictures of people who were living underground in the town where those supplies had been sent.

He gave us details of the kinds of supplies that were needed, including food, blankets and medical supplies, saying: "We would like to ask the Japanese people for financial assistance. It would be best if you could make it possible for us to buy what we need to buy in the field."

In Zamosc, we met a family of five – two women and three children, who had walked from Lutsk, Ukraine to the border, which had taken 5 hours. From there they had come by bus to Zamosc. When a volunteer tried to give a stuffed animal to a child of elementary school age, the child rejected it saying: "I don't need it because I have one at home." Everyone was pretty choked up by the comment.

The mother also started crying as she talked about the bombing they had heard, how the sound was awful and terrifying for her child. She then said there was nothing they needed, but after some thought she asked if we could find her a herb called Valerian, which is used as a sedative. After that, she left with an elderly couple who lived in Zamosc, saying that she and the family had decided to stay with them.

During our research, we had lunch at a restaurant, and sat next to a mother and her two daughters. They appeared to be refugees from Ukraine and the meal was provided free of charge. When we tried to pay, the restaurant staff seemed to think that we were Ukrainian refugees and told us that we did not need to pay for the meal because they wanted to help us, but of course we paid. 

Clearly, free support was abundant both at the border and in neighboring cities. We were both impressed and constantly moved by and respectful of the willingness of the Polish people to help. As Peace Winds, we will continue our support activities not only near the border, but also strive to deliver assistance to the many people who have been displaced within Ukraine.

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Organization Information

Peace Winds Japan

Location: Jinsekikogen-cho, Hiroshima Prefecture - Japan
Website:
Project Leader:
Hiroshi Kunita
Jinsekikogen-cho , Hiroshima Prefecture Japan

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