Fida's humanitarian aid has begun in Ukraine and Hungary. Partners hosting refugees are distributing the support. A Fida worker says that vulnerable refugees near the border face the threat of human trafficking.
Fida’s initial emergency relief fund has been directed to Uzhhorod and Shepetovka in western Ukraine. Uzhhorod is a town of about 112,000 inhabitants, located next to the Carpathian Mountains, about ten kilometers from the Slovakia border. Thousands of people have passed through this region to the border, fleeing the Ukrainian war. Fida has an on-site partner organization, Carpathian Life and Light.
– With the support of Fida, emergency accommodation will be set up for refugees in the region. I estimate that our help will reach hundreds of people. Our partner is giving food aid and clothing to refugees on the move. Many will have a long wait at the Slovakia border, reports Janne Harjukoski, Fida’s coordinator for work in Eastern Europe.
Janne and his wife Anne Harjukoski answer the phone in Eastern Hungary. They are preparing humanitarian aid for various parts of Ukraine and Hungary. They have visited border stations, their phones ringing non-stop, and the days have been full, meeting with various partner organizations. The chaotic border situation changes continually and the human crisis in Ukraine is getting worse.
– We are constantly on the move on the ground at the grassroots level. We are here to open aid channels and coordinate aid with other organizations, Janne Harjukoski says.
Fida’s help has already been directed to the outskirts of Shepetovka. A partner organization, Inspiration Center, is housing 30 families who have fled their home.
“The threat of human trafficking is real”
Fida works with several organizations and churches in In Hungary and Ukraine. Many of them have set up emergency accommodation for Ukrainian refugees. Financial support is now needed to feed and distribute vital aid to the increasing numbers of refugees.
The Harjukoski ’s see heartbreaking human tragedy situations.
– When I see the stream of refugees coming to the border, two distinct groups stand out: some are met by private rides and continue their journey to family or friends. Then there are those who come on foot from a long distance, with one plastic bag and have no place to go. They are often Roma, Janne Harjukoski describes.
There are some very vulnerable people on the move.
– Janne Harjukoski, Fida’s Eastern European work coordinator from the Hungarian border
– The situation is even scary. Traffic at the border is in chaos, and there are some shady -looking characters with vans. They pick up women and children directly from the border. These are the ones who don’t have a ride waiting and don’t know how to be careful. Although we don’t have the facts yet, the threat of human trafficking is already real, because very vulnerable people are on the move.
Aid is also starting in Hungary
The third part of aid will be channeled to help those who have fled to Hungary. The aid will be delivered by the Hungarian Roma Mission, which currently has the capacity to accommodate 300 refugees. These families need food, hygiene, and psychosocial support.
The Hungarian Roma Mission is a Christian aid organization specializing in education, social work, and health care. They have a lot of professional social workers. There are plans to start psychosocial support in Hungary for refugees who need to deal with the traumas of war.
Fida directs humanitarian aid to everyone, regardless of ethnic or religious background. In every location we try help the most vulnerable.
– in Eastern Europe, the minority Roma are often poor and the most vulnerable, especially during a crisis. Another particularly vulnerable group is people with disabilities, Janne Harjukoski describes.
Main photo: Arto Karvonen photographed a little girl in northern Ukraine in 2020. So far, this residential area has been spared from fighting.
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