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URGENT: Help deliver aid for families facing crisis in Ukraine and other emergencies around the world…

War in Ukraine

STATUS
Active Emergency
DATE
February 24, 2022
REGION
Ukraine, Eastern Europe

The War in Ukraine

On the morning of February 24th, 2022, Russian forces launched a multi-pronged invasion by land, air, and sea on Ukraine. The brutal conflict continues unabated. Even as Ukrainian forces made ground gains in the first year, strikes by Russia against Ukraine on civilian targets exacerbated concern for humanitarian needs in winter.

Since the day of the invasion, 14.6 million people need humanitarian assistance and nearly 5.9 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe. In Ukraine, 3.6 million people are internally displaced, and 6.9 million people are sheltering in place.

More than two years of war has caused widespread destruction, reducing some cities to rubble, damaging or destroying hundreds of thousands of homes along with critical infrastructure and leaving millions of people with limited or no access to electricity, water or heat. Many people are living either in collective centers or damaged buildings, without basic needs for daily life and vulnerable to a range of health threats.

Internally displaced persons living in collective centers are most at risk with the majority being women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Since the start of war, Americares has been working closely with local organizations to meet health needs. Many stories have emerged. Scroll down and meet some of the extraordinary people and organizations who have shared their stories.


Updated 2/16/2024

Video: Refugees and the People Working to Help Them

According to the World Health Organization, hundreds of attacks on health care facilities have been reported since the start of the war, resulting in many deaths and creating even more barriers to health care access in Ukraine. In addition to support for health facilities in Ukraine, we work with local partners to provide a safe space and health care, including mental health services for refugees.

Watch the video report from Poland on our programs now helping people affected by the war deal with the trauma of violence and loss. Just click on the arrow.

Our Response

Americares is meeting health needs of children and adults affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through its support of local organizations..

People living in Ukraine face barriers to care: a shrinking health workforce (due to safety concerns and displacement), rising health care costs, declining or disappearing incomes and mass displacement. The WHO reports roughly one-third of people in active combat zones or Russian-controlled areas report they cannot access the medicines they need. Children and adults are going without vital vaccines, and people with chronic conditions – such as diabetes or dementia – have suffered dangerous interruptions in care.

In the two years since the start of the war, we have provided total aid valued at more than $121 million to 83 local organizations assisting those affected by the war. Aid includes grants and shipments of medicine and medical supplies, including those delivered by volunteer Medical Outreach teams.

To date, Americares has awarded 117 emergency grants valued at more than $5.3 million to 62 organizations working in Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine. The support helps local organizations meet a wide range of critical health needs from tourniquets and tactical trauma care for civilians in Ukraine to the delivery of essential oncological medicines to a Children’s Medical Center.

Americares partner network in Ukraine includes lean, community-rooted organizations that reach vulnerable populations who lack access to health facilities as well as large, highly specialized partners fully integrated into the national health system. This robust partner network allows Americares to meet needs across the health spectrum.

“The support from Tabletochki and Americares is a matter of life and death for our patients. The support has provided us with the possibility to treat the child with previously incurable disease here; they don’t have to travel elsewhere. They have a chance to survive.”

Dr. Roman Kizyma, head of clinic of pediatric oncology at a specialized children’s hospital in Lviv, Ukraine

Dr. Kizyma’s hospital receives cancer medicine donated by Americares through Tabletochki, an Americares partner in Ukraine.

Another longtime Americares partner is Razom Health. Since onset of the war, Americares has provided Razom with 19 shipments of medicines and medical supplies valued at over $26 million and weighing over 50 tons. In addition, Americares provided Razom with a grant to purchase 13 hospital-grade generators for medical facilities in Ukraine.

Two years into the full-scale invasion, Americares focuses its support on local organizations in Ukraine, providing them with medicine, medical and relief supplies, technical support and training, while mainstreaming protection work to reach populations most in need of humanitarian aid, including women, children and older people.

Despite what I can only imagine was an emotionally and physically restless night for him, Vaclav has already provided an updated needs list for our team to review — before I’ve even had my morning coffee. After 12 months, rest remains elusive for our partners, who risk their own safety to serve those in need.

I receive messages every day from doctors, health providers, and first responders in Ukraine and partners in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia telling me what they need to protect and improve the health of people, of the millions at risk right now. Read Jake’s interactive blog post on his typical day.

We are now focusing our response in three main areas: 

  • Medicine and support for health services
  • Mental health and psychosocial support
  • Strengthening the capacity and sustainability of Ukrainian organizations

These response areas overlap: When possible, Americares links mental health and psychosocial support with medicine security interventions. For example, Americares has acquired medicines and medical supplies for psychological boarding houses in central Ukraine, offered grant support to acquire generators for mental health facilities as part of the winterization strategy and provided grant funds for the purchase of specialty medicines for a psychiatric care health facility.

Take a look below by clicking on the plus sign to see what we are doing in the three main areas of our response and what we have done in safeguarding and protection of the most vulnerable.

Medicine and Support for Health Services

Access to Medicines & Care

509+

tons of supplies to Ukraine

$115M+

in value

36

partners

Americares emergency response team in Poland is coordinating shipments of medicine and supplies into Ukraine to support local organizations assisting those affected by war. Since the start of the invasion, Americares has shipped more than 509 tons of medicine and relief supplies – valued at more than $115 million – to health facilities and first responders in Ukraine, a total of 194 shipments so far, with more shipments planned.

There is a critical need for medicine and medical supplies, including specialty medicines and medical supplies to care for cancer patients, newborns and others with complex medical needs. Americares is prepared to meet those needs — and more.

In medicine, a quick diagnosis can save a life.

Ultrasound imaging is a critical diagnostic tool for doctors and first responders, especially in Ukraine, where deadly bombs cause injuries far too often.  In one instance, through the Institute of Emergency Medicine in Poland, Americares provided handheld Butterfly iQ ultrasound probes to 15 hospitals in Ukraine, including the regional hospital where pediatric anesthesiologist Aleksji Obolonskij works, saving the lives of young trauma patients.

Click the link and read the story of how the life of a 4-year-old boy was saved.

In war, many people, including children, learn skills to save lives.

In late 2022, Americares provided the Poland-based Institute of Emergency Medicine with more than 10,000 tourniquets, used to stop the flow of blood to a limb or extremity in an emergency. Because the tourniquets were intended for civilians, Americares also provided two-day courses in emergency medicine, taught by certified trainers. The goal was to train 100 instructors who could, in turn, train and supply 10,000 civilians with tourniquets. By the end of the December, IEM had trained more than 140 instructors in Lviv, Odesa and Uzghorod. Two of those are Natalia and her 13-year-old daughter, Olena*.

Click this link; read the full story of Mother and Daughter learning life-saving skills.

While major shipments supplied health facilities and programs, the Americares Medical Outreach program has supported 30 trips by volunteer medical teams to Poland, Romania and Ukraine with more than $4.5 million worth of donated medicines and medical products.

On two of those trips, Dr. Eric Morgan and a team from Sojourners United brought Americares medicine and medical supplies to a remote village in eastern Ukraine that had been heavily bombed.   

During his last trip, Dr. Morgan wrote:

Typically, more than 90 percent of residents leave these villages, which often have no power, no cell phones and no operating stores. The elderly and chronically ill are often the only people remaining in these villages. During our first visit in July, we were struck by how these villagers in great need would often turn down our offers of medicine for diabetes, high blood pressure and non-narcotic pain medicines, knowing that we were going to other villages that day where there would be more people in great need.

Now, on our return trip months later, we noticed people didn’t decline our donations and were grateful when we extended an extra months’ worth of medicines to them. “”I remember you!” The door to our van had just opened after we arrived in the village when we heard a woman’s voice.  People were starting to gather in the road for the medical clinic and food distribution. “I never forget a face,” she said, smiling.  “You were here before!” We had been here, just nine months before. This village was located one mile from the front line. When we approached in July, we saw five plumes of smoke in the air, followed by a stream of people in cars, bikes and on foot. The site of our distribution and clinic had been attacked by Russian rockets five minutes before our arrival. No one was injured, and we relocated to an alternate location to give out needed meds and food items.

Now, months later, as we returned, there were no rockets to disrupt our efforts, but evidence of strikes remained: broken windows in almost every home, many roofs and parts of houses destroyed. There were constant sounds of artillery fire: Imagine yourself in an intense, never-ending thunderstorm with many lightning strikes one or two miles away, but occasionally so close that you jump. And, while there were occasional strikes nearby, there were no whistles indicating an inbound rocket very close. Before February 2022, these villages had their own pharmacies and clinics, which closed after the bombs began to fall in. As a result, for this particular village, the closest pharmacy was now over an hour away – if you had fortune to have access to a car that could drive that distance. Almost everyone we met did not. It was a blessing to have received generous donations from an organization like Americares so that we could bring medicines that were so needed for people in great need. And they were grateful for these small acts to help them.

***

“I met a lady in Chernihiv, Ukraine who told me that her mother ran out of her glaucoma medication as the supplies in the pharmacies were gone. She was so concerned that she would completely lose her vision that she could not sleep at night. Once we were able to give her the glaucoma medication, she became calm and was able to perform her daily activities. The daughter said that her mother was like a new person!!!”

Esli Gollapalli, DO
Doctor in operating room in scrubs with view of some of the equipment surrounding him.

The war has affected everyone in Ukraine, but it is particularly cruel to pregnant women. The health effects on pregnant women are stark. Since the beginning of the war, a regional hospital in western Ukraine has seen a significant increase in premature births, from 3.56 percent of all births before the war to 13 percent in the first months after the war began in February.  Read a story about Americares efforts to meet this challenge.

Doctor in white lab coat in office at her hospital.

War and displacement are difficult for healthy people but can be doubly challenging for those who suffer from chronic illness such as diabetes. Since the start of the war, treatments for low blood sugar have been in short supply in Ukraine, and critical medicines for diabetes have been nearly impossible to find. Read how we are helping hospitals address this health crisis.

Mental Health & Psychosocial Support

Trauma and Loss

26,000+

individual crisis intervention sessions

1,110+

frontline clinicians trained

Americares supports social service and mental health organizations in Ukraine and Poland so they have the infrastructure, technical and professional skills to ensure they can meet immediate and long-term needs. To support the mental health of people affected by the war, Americares has provided program support to 24 partner organizations in Poland, Romania and Ukraine. Of the 117 total grants, 43 grants totaling more than $1.5M support mental health.

  • These include:
    • Family Circle, which developed an online educational campaign that shared evidence-based practices and self-help tools focused on resilience. The campaign has already reached over 93,000 people across Ukraine.
    • UA Mental Help, organization focusing on online therapy, that has provided over 2,600 online consultations to Ukrainians living in 26 different countries.
    • Smart Osvita, which is currently developing and implementing a training for over 700 educators and school psychologists to improve their well-being and their ability to support children and adolescents during situations of conflict.
    • Tabletochki, the leading pediatric oncology organization in Ukraine, which is supporting more than 120 children with cancer and 200 adult caretakers with individual psychological support sessions and other activities aimed to help families navigate treatment during the war.

In addition to grant support, the Americares team continues to develop educational resources in Ukrainian and has delivered capacity-building training for over 350 health care and frontline workers on psychological first aid and other topics relevant to mental health. Americares also provides psychosocial support activities to partner staff, including sessions on preventing burnout, coping with stress, building resiliency and strengthening community-based support.

Of 26,000 crisis intervention sessions for internally displaced people, military personnel, veterans and refugees, more than 3,800 were lifesaving, that is, focused on support for a suicidal
person.

With Americares assistance, our partners have also trained frontline clinicians in therapy techniques that address the unique trauma of war for both children and adults.

Yaryna fled to safety and quickly turned to helping others.

When 20-year-old Yaryna fled Ukraine in February 2022, driving her sister and family friends to Poland over three days in frigid temperatures, she had one goal: To bring everyone safely across the border. She did not know that her intense focus on that goal would be the first step to a debilitating burnout that threatened her own health and safety.

Click on this link; read Yaryna’s story of finding support among other refugees.

Americares has experience providing mental health and psychosocial support to refugees and others affected by war and instability. We know from our work in Jordan with Syrian refugees and in Colombia with Venezuelan migrants that mental health support is so critical for this population, whose lives have changed drastically. We know that mental health is fundamental to response and recovery.  

Strengthening the Capacity and Sustainability of Ukrainian Organizations

Building for the Future

Americares partner network in Ukraine comprises lean, community-rooted organizations that can reach vulnerable populations not being served by health facilities, as well as large, highly specialized partners fully integrated into the national health system.

In September 2023, the Americares Ukraine Response Partner Summit brought together 20 priority partners in Lviv, Ukraine to discuss best practices and build internal networks amongst Ukrainian non-profits.

The Ukraine Response has committed grant funds for six Ukrainian partners providing health services, and identified via an open call, to participate in a 6-month capacity building project that will cover strategic planning, policy development and operational support in order to further invest in the sustainability of aid efforts in Ukraine.

Safeguarding and Protection

Safe Space

19

partners in four countries

$420K

in funding

In addition to our ongoing work with medical aid and mental health, Americares has helped partners to prevent human trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people affected by the war in Ukraine. Americares has also helped them support the needs of people who face discrimination and marginalization. To date, Americares has supported organizations in Poland, Romania, Slovakia and across Ukraine with funding for more than 20 safeguarding and protection projects. 

For example, to help evacuate an estimated 3,000 people with disabilities from Ukraine, Americares is partnering with the World Institute on Disability to create a virtual Emergency Operations Center, where people with disabilities can access the information they need securely and safely.

For children affected by heavy bombing in Irpin and Bucha, Ukraine, with Americares support, our partner Divchata trained 10 psychologists in neuro-development and renovated a space where they work with parents and their children on tailored exercise programs. Due to the bombing and sheltering in
place, some children are experiencing loss of speech, incontinence and intellectual delay.

With Americares support, the League of Modern Women in Sumy, Ukraine, has provided women with individual counseling and legal advice, gender-based violence survivors with coping techniques and children with art therapy – all in a newly renovated safe space. Safe medical and gynecological referrals are also available at the local clinic.

Two people in orange EMT suits and one person in black jacket, white shirt and black leggings stand beside open side door of ambulance on a city street.

With Americares support, Acceptance opened its transgender clinic in Poznan, Poland, and evacuates critical patients out of Ukraine via ambulance. Acceptance facilitated blood and
hormone-level testing for 59 LGBTQIA+ patients in Lviv and brought medication on a return trip. Read more..

Health worker in white lab coat demonstrates an ultrasound machine showing monitor and controls to Americares staff member in blue t-shirt.
Anastasia, a Ukrainian nurse who works for Acceptance Foundation, talks about USG equipment purchased thanks to Americares grant at Acceptance Foundation’s clinic.

And in Romania, Americares partner eLiberare is training police officers, social workers and humanitarian staff working with refugees to identify and report human trafficking. Americares funding will also support housing and other services for at-risk refugees in the country. 

Resources for Vulnerable Women from Ukraine

Displaced women and refugees from Ukraine and other war-affected areas are particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual violence. Feminoteka, an Americares partner in Poland, raises awareness about violence against women and provides counseling and resources to survivors. With support from Americares, Feminoteka created a traveling exhibit promoting its helpline for women fleeing Ukraine.

 Click on this link; read the full story about the lifeline for women and the work of Feminoteka.

Support that Builds Back Health Care

This is a newly renovated area in the basement of the Odesa Regional Center of Socially Significant Disease. This area was created in order to secure and separate TB patients to prevent spreading of the disease during an air raid alarm. Thanks to Americares grant, LifePlus, the hospital was able to renovate a portion of the basement for this purpose. Click here and read the whole story.

Finished room with four special doors on the right side of the long hallway to be used for safe storage of cancer drugs

How to Bomb-proof Medicine – When the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv came under attack in 2022, health professionals knew they had to save lives – and medicine. They found and tranformed an unlikely place. Read the story.

Up Close and Personal Stories from the Midst of War

videos, images, narratives

Fleeing a war is much more than finding a safe place. For students, teachers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters who find refuge in Poland, they have to manage the traumatic loss of everything they left behind. Every family has their own story. They share their stories directly in the following videos, images and narratives.

Oksana stands with her two daughters on either side and their white dog in front on a leash. They stand on a cobblestone path in a wooded area in winter. Ground is covered in leaves.

“Now, I know I can come here and get medical treatment whenever we need it. For a refugee and a mother with two girls with Down Syndrome, it’s crucial,”…Oksana Z, a Ukrainian refugee – read their story of finding peace, serenity, and many helpful people.

Marta, fled Lutsk, Ukraine, with her two sons and is now a volunteer translator and Polish teacher at Coalition for Youth Foundation in Bialobrzegi, Poland, and a volunteer at the Warsaw Institute Foundation, a think tank.

“In February, the bombs replaced our breakfast. It should have been a normal day for my family. But for breakfast, I didn’t have coffee with milk. In my mind it stayed the 24th of February for a long period. That doesn’t mean that we can’t comprehend this, but we need time to adapt and understand what to do next. And these simple things [support from the Coalition for Youth] give us time to understand how we can move forward.”

Marta, a university professor and administrator

“The babies were born in February. We were discharged from the hospital on March 15, and three or four days later, a building in my apartment block was shelled, so my husband took us to the railroad station. From Lviv, we came here, and a volunteer brought us everything we needed. Now I can say that people shouldn’t be scared or worried [to leave Ukraine]. There are organizations that can help you survive and settle in. We’re grateful that we can hide somewhere from the war.

Natalia
Nataliia fled Zelenodolsk, Ukraine, in March 2022 with 1-month-old twins. She receives support, including supplies for her babies, from Americares partner Coalition for Youth in Bialobrzegi, Poland.
Yulia fled Lutsk, Ukraine, with her 11-year-old son, in March 2022. In a program supported by Americares, Yulia provides psychotherapy to refugees at Salam Lab in Krakow and, via telephone, to women in Ukraine.


“People have different reactions to stress—some shut down, some isolate themselves. It’s important to decrease the effects of PTSD and stop people from sinking deeper into their traumas.”

Yulia, a psychotherapist

Alina and Timofy

Alina rests with her son, Timofy*, in a hotel in Krakow, Poland where she and her family are receiving displaced person’s assistance.

*name changed

Alina poses for a photo with her son, Timofy, with his new stuffed bear on a bed in a hotel in Krakow, Poland
Alina with her son, Timofy, in a hotel in Krakow, Poland (Photo/Mike Demas).

Alina left Ukraine, where she had just finished studying dermatology, to seek refuge in Poland. Her husband, who is also a doctor, was not allowed to leave the country. A friend of hers made a similar journey weeks prior and disappeared, and, while she is unsure of what has happened to her friend, she suspects that she has been trafficked. In order to avoid a similar fate, she called on her mother-in-law and father-in-law, Olena and Oleg, to come meet her in Poland. The family awaits the processing of the necessary paperwork so that they can travel to Israel together.

Alina (middle) poses for a photo with Olena (left) and Oleg (right), her mother-in-law and father-in-law, in a hotel in Krakow, Poland where she and her family are receiving displaced person’s assistance.
Alina (middle) sits with Olena (left) and Oleg (right), her mother-in-law and father-in-law, in a hotel in Krakow, Poland where she and her family are receiving displaced person’s assistance (Photo/Mike Demas).

Alina and her baby son Timofy are safe and sound in Krakow, currently staying in a hotel room provided to them by the Jewish Community Center of Krakow.

Americares awarded JCC Krakow a grant to support programs providing assistance to Ukrainian refugees, including temporary accommodation, a safe space for mothers and children, and other programs, on April 5, 2022.

Timofy sleeps on a bed with his bear in a hotel in Krakow, Poland
Timofy sleeps on a bed in a hotel in Krakow, Poland where he and his family are receiving displaced person’s assistance.

Going Forward

The unique value of Americares in the global humanitarian response to the war is, first and foremost, the close partnerships we have developed inside Ukraine with health facilities and other organizations that help the communities most at risk. We have also developed effective supply chains to deliver donated and procured product quickly into Ukraine. Americares partners span several regions, working near the contact line in the south and east of Ukraine, as well as in the west where many displaced Ukrainians have taken refuge. 

silhouette of worker moving palette of emergency response supplies with americares emergency response branding on the shipment wrapping.
Members of a partner organization in Ukraine pack up and transport medical supplies and medicine from Americares to be distributed to a medical facility that has been converted into a trauma center for the wounded following the Russian invasion. March 22, 2022. (Photo Credit: Razom)

Most importantly, Americares brings an approach that is rooted in listening: We ask local hospitals, clinics, nongovernmental and governmental organizations to tell us what they need and then we work to meet that need.

Americares also brings more than 40 years of emergency response and humanitarian aid to our work. All of our emergency responses are multifaceted, not only providing medicine and supplies, but also working closely with partners to co-design, implement, and scale their outreach and services to the people affected.


…and offering comfort to the most vulnerable…

Our History

Americares has a long history of supporting clinical services for refugees and migrants. In the past 10 years alone, Americares has provided more than $70 million in aid to support health care for refugees and migrants in over a dozen countries including supporting health services for families fleeing the humanitarian crises in Syria and Venezuela. Since 1986, Americares has provided more than $2 billion in aid to Eastern Europe, including more than $262 million in aid to Ukraine, which began in 1992. We also donate medicines and medical supplies to U.S.-based medical professionals traveling to Ukraine to provide care for patients in need.

Americares has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis.

Americares has over 40 years of experience responding to emergencies, including conflicts that lead to large-scale displacements. We respond to more than 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establish long-term recovery projects and bring disaster preparedness programs to communities vulnerable to disasters.

We can do this work, because you care about what happens to Rita, Yulia, David and Raisa and all of the people caught in the war. Together we can help each of them and the many local organizations serving their health needs. Click on the “Please give now” button below.