One year of the russian invasion in Ukraine: how initiatives and programs of humanitarian assistance to people work

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Inna Gavrylova and Irina Solovei - Alliance for Public Health
  • Alliance for public health helping community.
    Alliance for public health helping community. Source: Alliance for public health.

Inna Gavrylova and Irina Solovei explains us the reality of the situation in Ukraine and the help of Alliance for Public Health during this year of war.

On February 24, it will be a year since a full-scale war has been going on in Ukraine. Ukrainians show incredible courage and unity, despite the daily terror of russia. An important role in the fight against the aggressor is played by the volunteer activity of non-governmental organizations that attract international donors to implement projects that help internally displaced persons, people with chronic diseases such as HIV and all those affected by the war.

We talked with representatives of the ICF "Alliance for Public Health" - an organization that changed its activities from the first days of the war and, now, has many initiatives aimed at multi-faceted assistance to Ukrainians, from public health programs to humanitarian aid. 

Alliance for Public Health – an organization working on the front lines and fighting for Ukraine and its people

The Alliance for Public Health team has been helping people access HIV prevention means, diagnosis and treatment for 22 years, protecting human rights and providing humanitarian support. The organization has extensive experience in successfully implementing comprehensive large-scale interventions in all regions of Ukraine with the involvement of NGOs, public organizations, and health care institutions involved in the provision of services in the field of HIV, STIs, OST and tuberculosis.

Since the beginning of the war, when there was an urgent need to retrain and provide more comprehensive assistance to people, several initiatives and programs were launched: the Humanitarian Convoy began its work, which transported more than 1.2 million tons of cargo; the international HelpNow HUB emergency support and coordination program for Ukrainians around the world was launched; the range of services of 44 mobile outpatient clinics was established and expanded; programs for direct humanitarian, social and psychological support were expanded.

In response to the humanitarian crisis caused by russia's military aggression in Ukraine, with the financial support of Christian AID and the British Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), a comprehensive program of humanitarian support in the context of the war and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine was launched in Ukraine in the summer. 

“In the conditions of large-scale russian military aggression, millions of Ukrainians, who were in difficult circumstances before, were on the verge of survival. A humanitarian program supported by Christian Aid aims to help those who need it most. During the first months of work, we were able e to support more than 75 humanitarian projects to help communities and initiative groups throughout the country. This is a significant investment to support and restore Ukraine and we are grateful to our partners for their trust and support ", Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director, Alliance for Public Health

The humanitarian support program for Ukrainians for 1.4 million pounds

Since August 2022, a comprehensive program of humanitarian support in the context of war and post-war recovery has been operating in Ukraine. The main direction of its work is the support of representatives of vulnerable communities, aimed at ensuring urgent humanitarian, social and medical needs and decent life in crisis conditions through the implementation of crisis response measures. Thanks to this, people can receive the following:

  • Services to meet the humanitarian needs of the population (food, water, hygiene kits, children's kits); 

  • Consulting and accompanying services (medical, psychosocial, legal assistance); 

  • Services related to evacuation and resettlement (search and organization of temporary housing, etc.); 

  • Cash assistance for the urgent needs of households; 

  • Mini-projects initiated by teams of communities (up to $5,000) are also financed.

Joint efforts, together with 24 NGOs, managed to quickly and effectively deploy activities in 16 regions of Ukraine. Humanitarian aid kits are distributed to people, such as food and hygiene products, household chemicals or certificates for purchasing goods in supermarket chains, and certificates for purchasing medicines in pharmacies. Also, baby food sets, diapers and other necessary goods are provided for children.

A very important and in-demand area of work was the maximum expansion of access of the target groups of the project to medical, psychological, legal counseling, social assistance based on NGOs and/or redirection to partner organizations and specialized institutions (for example, health care institutions, legal agencies, social assistance centers, etc.). Various specialists worked with people to solve their problems connected with the war.

Only in the first three months of work, 75,271 people received the necessary assistance, including IDPs, families with children, people with disabilities, and representatives of groups most vulnerable to HIV infection.

“We see the terrible humanitarian consequences of Russia's military aggression not only on TV, but worldwide. We live in these conditions and understand the urgent need for emergency intervention and the provision of prompt assistance to Ukrainians affected by the war. We focus on supporting the work of shelters, evacuation from war zones, direct humanitarian and social assistance, psychological and legal support ", Maryna Varban, Head of Humanitarian Support Program, Alliance for Public Health.

Mobile clinics assistance for KP’s and for residents of the de-occupied territories

Mobile clinics are an important tool to ensure uninterrupted provision of preventive services, especially in the regions that have faced destruction of the healthcare system and where it is problematic for clients to reach remote healthcare facilities.

43,357 customers have visited the 37 mobile clinics supported by the Global Fund and PEPFAR  for more than 102 000 visits to receive HIV/TB prevention and testing services.

Additional services that were provided with the help of mobile clinics: 

  • Evacuation of clients and NGO employees.

  • Delivery of ART, PrEP, OST in order to prevent interruption of treatment and prophylaxis.

  • Provision of humanitarian aid

  • Transportation of clients and physicians to hospitals in war zones

The longest trip of the Alliance’s mobile ambulatory: 3,000 km across 7 countries! 

The Alliance successfully managed to ensure evacuation of the staff of Obryi CO and their families from temporarily occupied Severodonetsk to Uzhhorod. The evacuation trip lasted more than 10 days, the route of it ran through 7 countries. During this period, the mobile ambulatory covered more than 3,000 kilometers and was subject to three "filtrations".  

In the end, our colleagues, who had been under occupation for more than 9 months, celebrated the New Year with their dearest people, while the mobile ambulatory is now ready for trips to provide preventive services to key populations in Transcarpathian Oblast.

The mobile clinics have become true mobile treatment points! During the two months of operation in the framework of the new project, the Alliance's mobile clinics have visited Vovchansky and Kupyansky Districts, Izyum and lots of other small villages in Kharkiv Oblast that were lost on the map of the war. Over 800 people who survived the occupation have received advice of a general practitioner, they had the opportunity to have their cardiogram, measure their blood sugar level, and receive the required medication 1,000 first aid kits for homes have been distributed, approximately 20,000 tons of warm clothes and blankets, food and hygiene products, children's toys and books, small stoves and sleeping bags will make the longest and hardest winter at least a little bit warmer for Ukrainians in de-occupied Kharkiv Oblast.

Mini-grants for solving domestic problems

One of the topical and productive areas that are being implemented in Ukraine is the provision of targeted charitable assistance (mini-grants) to initiative groups of communities to solve urgent problems in various fields. Thanks to this, we were able to solve the following issues:

  • Equip shelters for internally displaced persons (IDPs) with equipment and everything necessary for living.
  • Restore water and electricity supply, cleaning/drilling of wells and boreholes in the places that were most affected by the attacks;
  • Purchase everything necessary for orphanages, schools for children with special needs (sensory room); rehabilitation centers for survivors of domestic violence;
  • Provide students with educational materials, textbooks, and tablets for distance learning;
  • To purchase medical equipment, etc.

Forced evacuation has become an extremely difficult challenge for people with limited physical abilities. At the end of the spring of 2022, when Lysychansk became too dangerous and living conditions were critical, Tetiana, the mother of the minor Nastia, a disabled person from childhood, was forced to take her daughter out of this hell. "We couldn't even hide in the basement during the air raid because I couldn't move the wheelchair back and forth all the time. I'm not so strong for this. To protect myself, I built a "fortress": I covered the windows to protect myself from glass fragments in case of an explosion and protected the space as much as possible. But, due to constant shelling, the daughter became restless and needed medicines and a doctor's examination,” recalls Tetiana. 

Fortunately, they managed to evacuate, but almost without belongings. After arriving at a safe place, the woman addressed the organization and indicated that she needed a wheelchair for her daughter. In the shortest possible time, social workers managed to find the necessary wheelchair and order it from Belgium. 

"Honestly, I didn't expect to get a new wheelchair for my daughter. I am so thankful for this support. It's a great joy! It is lighter, compact folding, and mobile. Adjustable and suitable for the bodybuilding and weight of the daughter. I sincerely thank the foundation for this necessary gift. Now I can be confident because the wheelchair for my Nastia is really safe,” Tetiana expressed her gratitude. “I am from Lysychansk and this is Ukraine. Unfortunately, we have nowhere to go. I don't have any more a house or belongings. I have a disabled daughter and we evacuated under fire to the secure areas of the country. Yes, there are certain difficulties, but I, like many Ukrainians, am grateful for the support that you provide to us. And I hope it will go on because the good must be together to resist evil."

Consequences of the humanitarian crisis for Ukraine and Ukrainians

Having witnessed russia's unjustified brutal full-scale aggression, Ukraine managed to mobilize its forces, withstand the shock of the first days and weeks of the war, and, with the strong support of foreign partners, continue to resist the enemy, fighting for its own independence adequately.

According to official data, since the beginning of the war on February 24, 2022, more than 14 million people have become internally displaced or have been forced to flee to neighboring countries as refugees. Particularly affected were vulnerable segments of the population, in particular, the elderly, children deprived of care or separated from their parents, persons with disabilities, and, according to estimates, almost half a million third-country nationals (TCCs) who lived in Ukraine at the time of the escalation of hostilities. For many of them, meeting even the most basic needs is a big problem because people run out of savings, and there are failures in terms of sources of income and work because it is challenging to find a job now.

According to the latest IOM household survey, almost 60% of the population lost their jobs because of the war. The decline of the economy has led to a rapid increase in the number of people who have no choice but to seek humanitarian assistance in order to survive. These needs are especially acutely felt by internally displaced persons in unfamiliar communities and often separated from the usual circles of communication.

The UN's forecasts are terrible - 9 out of 10 Ukrainians will face poverty by the end of the year. GDP will fall by 30%. Losses to the health care system are very serious. According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, more than 1370 Ukrainian medical institutions were attacked, and about 123 hospitals were completely destroyed.

At the same time, the war demonstrated that even in the conditions of destroyed infrastructure, living under the sounds of sirens, the Ukrainian people are the main driving force, which nothing will stop or frighten.

Donate to support Ukrainians and humanitarian programs of the Alliance for Public Health in Ukraine through the official website 

A video report on cars donated to the frontline for medics, funds for the car were raised at #AIDS2022.

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