Refugees in Ukraine are now facing bitterly cold weather. Thousands have been sleeping in subway stations and makeshift bunkers to protect themselves from indiscriminate shelling. For over two million people, the time has come to flee. Across the eastern part of the country, women, children and the elderly daily board any bus or train they can find heading west and south, either to cities like Lviv (Leopoli on the map) near the Polish border, or continuing further into Poland, Romania, and Moldova. How long will they be gone? Will they ever see their husbands and fathers again? Where will they sleep tonight, and find food, not to mention access to medicines, diapers, or a functioning bank? How long will it take to cross the border, in the freezing cold?
Over the past 10 days, AVSI has launched a global campaign to raise funds and respond to the immediate needs of Ukrainians, inside the country and in neighboring Poland and Romana. AVSI-USA has contributed close to $50,000 to the effort, helping AVSI reach $700,000 raised to date. These resources are already being used to purchase food and essential supplies in Poland and Romania, and to transport them into Lviv and onwards to other cities in Ukraine. Women and children crossing into Poland and Romania have not been left alone. Instead, they are assisted right away, provided with food and basic need items like diapers. The mobilization of volunteers in these two hosting countries has been impressive and heartwarming.
AVSI is privileged to have existing partnerships with local organizations in Poland, Romania and within Urkaine. As you can see in the short videos we’ve shared, one main partner is Caritas Lviv whose staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to keep the flow of goods moving as far into Ukraine as they can safely reach.
Hundreds of individuals and families across the United States have decided to take a step and express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people by donating to the relief effort through AVSI. As many others have pointed out, “cash is best” when it comes to helping people in need in circumstances like this. The choice of organization is also important, and with AVSI you can be confident that your donation goes to direct services, on the ground, led by local organizations who know what they are doing.
We will continue to keep you updated as the AVSI Emergency Response Team in Poland and Romania continues to work closely with partners, monitoring the situation and adapting the current strategies to address the greatest need. In the next week, we hope to have a clearer idea about what more we can do to help Ukrainians who have remained in the country to ensure that we avoid additional suffering and loss of life.