More than one million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring countries after escaping conflict and violence. UN estimates that up to five million people may be forced to leave Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, it is set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century. Most refugees are women and children, who are most at risk during conflicts and emergencies as cases of gender-based violence and exploitation soar. ActionAid is preparing to provide emergency support and protection for those forced to flee.
Of particular concern are the racist reactions to the conflict through not just the mouths of individuals, but also of media personnel. Media personnel from “reputed” outlets are expressing their special surprise that such conflict is afflicting a “civilized” country in Europe, as if a conflict is condonable if it takes place in Asia, Africa and South America. Early reports indicate that Non-white people fleeing from the conflict are being humiliated and harassed by personnel, and it is particularly disturbing to see videos and hear reports of denied access to relief, aid and the right to cross the border to safety.
This is open racism at play which underscores the attitudes of erstwhile colonialists demonstrated in their continued determination to run the world to suit their own interests with scant regard for the dispossessed and denied people of the Global South.
Alianza por la Solidaridad, ActionAid Association’s sister organisation in Spain and part of the same global federation is now setting up its humanitarian support to those arriving on the borders in search of safety and protection. The range of services includes protection for refugee women and girls vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence. Alianza will also be supplying relief materials and assistance including food, shelter, winterisation support, healthcare, non-food items, livelihoods, rental support, water, sanitation, hygiene, both in-kind and via cash assistance and language support. Refugee girls, boys and youth, will be provided psychosocial counselling support; educational support, including educational kits and learning materials, cash and voucher assistance to support education-related costs; and learning support for out-of-school children and youth, child and youth-friendly spaces and recreational activities.
Relief centres are being set up in Poland, Hungary and Romania. In Hungary, the locations where these are being set up include the Subcarpathia (Zakarpatie) region on the border with Ukraine and urban centres, such as Budapest, Nyíregyháza and Debrecen. In Romania, the locations are in the regions of Maramures and Bucovina on the border with Ukraine and urban centres including Bucharest.
Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid Association says, “We are very concerned about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine and its implications for global peace. ActionAid Association has extended all possible support to our sister organisation Alianza por la Solidaridad, as it is unfolding a multi-country and comprehensive humanitarian operation in support of people seeking safety. Drawing on our expertise in humanitarian interventions developed over years of emergency response work through relief and rehabilitation in India, we will be providing virtual support to relief distribution, counselling, supporting single women and helping refugees secure protections, rights and entitlements.”
About ActionAid Association:
ActionAid Association is an organisation working for social and ecological justice. ActionAid has been engaged with the most marginalised communities in India since 1972. In 2006, ActionAid Association was registered as an Indian organisation, governed by an independent General Assembly and a Governing Board. Together with supporters, communities, institutions and governments, we strive for equality, fraternity and liberty for all. ActionAid Association works in 24 states and two union territories, with several partners and allied organisations. ActionAid Association is part of a global federation and a full affiliate of ActionAid International, that has a presence in over 40 countries worldwide.