Ukraine: solidarity under bombing
Yana Moroz and Anastasiia Nepran are psychologists for Terre des hommes (Tdh) in Ukraine. After reaching a safe place, they were able to share their experience and describe what children are going through in this crisis. Terre des hommes is mobilising to help refugees in neighbouring countries.
"Before the outbreak of hostilities, we were working with teenagers on topics such as coping with stress and teamwork in communities near the Russian border. Vital needs such as water, food and medicine were met. This made our psychosocial support work possible. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
Priorities have changed, everyone in Ukraine is focused on saving their lives and those of their loved ones. Many spent days and days in shelters with no water, no electricity and no way to communicate with the outside world. Others have made the decision to leave their homes and move on. The situation is "terrible" in the words of Anastasiia and Yana. Some parents "give" their children to strangers because there are not enough places in the evacuation trains, they "throw" them into buses or cars to get to safety.
Some children accompanied by their parents spend several days on the road in very dangerous shooting zones. The traffic jams are endless, and it is impossible to fill a tank with petrol. The cold, the lack of food, the fear, the anxiety, all these feelings are omnipresent! "We are very worried about our colleagues too. Most of them are in towns that have been under constant bombing and have not had access to any resources for several days, and the only means of communication in these regions are the radio," say our two psychologists.
The sanitary conditions are deplorable, baby food has run out and humanitarian aid is difficult to reach because of the bombing. Stress and anxiety overwhelm the parents and no psychological support is possible until vital needs are met. "Physiological needs are the top priority! You have to drink, eat and sleep.
Yana and Anastasiia end on a positive note and a glimmer of hope, saying that "despite not knowing what tomorrow will bring, we have a certain feeling of security thanks to the support of our loved ones and Tdh. The solidarity between parents, neighbours and children is beautiful to see! They support and help each other; they share everything they have left.
How is Terre des hommes engaged?
In order to respond to the wave of refugees in Ukraine's neighbouring countries (4 million as of 29th March according to the UNHCR), Tdh is in the process of deploying several mobile units in Moldavia, Romania and Hungary. Nine teams, made up of social work experts, psychologists and health personnel, will travel through the three countries. The aim is to ensure that children, young people, mothers and pregnant women have access to necessities by distributing hygiene and dignity kits (including masks and disinfectant to protect against Covid-19), and also to protect the most vulnerable from violence or from the danger of exploitation.
Concretely, an emergency team is currently analysing the needs in Romania, Hungary and Moldova to determine where Tdh can have a positive impact, such as in reception centres, train stations and border areas with Ukraine. Activities have already started in the region thanks to the rapid adaptation of existing projects there.
Ignazio Cassis on a visit
The President of the Confederation took advantage of his trip to Poland and Moldova to visit the Terre des hommes team in Chisinau. Tdh, in partnership with UNICEF Moldova, has created and manages the "Blue Dot" space at MoldExpo, the main reception and placement centre for refugees from Ukraine.
Children of all ages come in every day to participate in the activities offered by Terre des hommes. Playing and exploring creativity help to cope with the impacts of war. It helps the children to feel safe, respected and gives them hope.
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The Terre des hommes team presents the activities of the centre to Ignazio Cassis, President of the Swiss Confederation.
Crédits photos: ©Tdh