Two years in Ukraine

22 February, 2024

Saturday, February 24, marks two years since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. Within two days, IsraAID arrived in Moldova and began supporting Ukrainian refugees fleeing the hostilities, primarily women and children, at the Moldova-Ukraine border. In those first days, IsraAID began distributing urgently needed aid items and set up a safe space where mothers and children could get warm, access psychosocial support, children could play and parents could have a moment to rest and plan their next moves.

In the following months, IsraAID worked to support Ukrainian refugees and host communities across Moldova with psychosocial support, public healthcare, and urgent aid deliveries. In March, the organization and local and international partners set up the Tulcea Humanitarian Logistics Hub in Tulcea, Romania, near the Ukrainian border. The hub established the first humanitarian corridor for vital aid supplies directly into southern and eastern Ukraine from Romania, delivering thousands of tons of supplies to the communities that needed them most. Since July 2022, IsraAID has been working inside Ukraine to support thousands of vulnerable and displaced people every day.

Two years into this crisis, Ukraine is farther from global headlines, but humanitarian needs remain severe, affecting a staggering 14.6 million people. Communities on the front lines continue to face daily attacks. Many have little-to-no access to water, gas, or electricity. Children have few opportunities to play outside or attend school, reducing their access to protective frameworks and supportive social groups. Mental health needs have risen sharply among all ages, and hospitals are overwhelmed. Frontline workers struggle to cope, let alone support others. Protracted displacement has depleted the resources of 4 million people, and the numbers keep rising. 

In partnership with national and regional governments, community institutions, NGOs, humanitarian actors, and other stakeholders, IsraAID continues to sustain core programs while addressing ‘crises within a crisis’ as they arise. Simultaneously, we are laying the groundwork for long-term recovery, fostering community resilience and bolstering local capacities not just to cope, but to rebuild.

Below is a summary of what we’ve achieved so far. Meanwhile, as needs continue to rise, we’re more committed than ever to the long-term resilience of Ukrainian communities.

Public health

Over the past two years, IsraAID has strengthened primary and secondary healthcare facilities, including building referral pathways to increase rural communities’ resilience in the face of present and future challenges.

IsraAID has provided first aid training for 500+ frontline workers in partnership with local authorities and first response actors. This includes police officers, rural healthcare facility staff, and educational professionals in Odesa, Berezivka, Mykolaiv, and Izmail. We are also providing first aid kits containing tourniquets, splints, bandages, eye shields, reusable ice packs, CPR supplies, and more. With many mandatory trainings canceled amid the war, this training is essential for reducing burdens on healthcare facilities. 

We continue to advance health education in rural villages in partnership with local primary healthcare facilities and the regional State Public Health Center. Our team delivers interactive healthcare awareness presentations for some 200 adults and children weekly. A trained doctor facilitates the sessions, and we provide attendees with basic items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, and creams so they can implement what they learn. 

Additionally, we support gynecologists’ roving clinics in remote, rural areas where doctors are conscripted or deployed to larger hospitals since pregnant women cannot travel easily. IsraAID’s service providers have identified a wide range of medical conditions, including pregnancy and cancers, enabling earlier specialist care. We serve five villages each week, providing regular care for around 150 women.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene 

IsraAID Ukraine has partnered long-term with local authorities in Mykolaiv oblast to provide safe water. When the main pipeline was destroyed a few weeks into the war, local authorities restored limited centralized access in Mykolaiv city, but the water was heavily salinated and unsafe for household use. Many villages lacked water altogether. The Kakhovka Dam explosion in June 2023 exacerbated these challenges, impacting the wider region and straining already limited resources.

IsraAID and our partners have now provided over 9 million liters of free, safe water for residents. This is processed by 19 static and mobile reverse osmosis systems we supplied, and we partnered with the municipality to install them in communal locations like kindergartens and schools. Mobile stations enable us to reach rural areas and minimize the distances people travel to access water. 

We trained 135 local leaders to operate and maintain the equipment independently. Heated dispensers prevent water from freezing in pipes, critical during Ukraine’s third harsh winter in war.

Other areas require different solutions. IsraAID first delivered aid to Shevchenkivska, an area with a population of 10,000, just weeks after its liberation from occupation in November 2022. Our team returned multiple times, which built trust, and their leaders soon requested our support for water access. We facilitated the rehabilitation of Shevchenkivska’s water supply system by supplying advanced equipment to treat water, disinfect, and desalinate eight boreholes.

After the Kakhovka dam explosion, villages across Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts experienced widespread flooding. To minimize health risks, IsraAID brought in heaters, pumps, and anti-fungal dryers to help dry out flooded houses and help residents endure the long winter in safe, warm, dry spaces. 

Protection

IsraAID’s protection activities in Ukraine continue to prioritize the most vulnerable people, especially children. With 720+ educational centers destroyed and countless more shut, children must still socialize, learn, process their difficult experiences, and play. We have trained 250 Child-Friendly Space (CFS) facilitators and established CFSs in Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kropyvnytsky, Kharkiv, and Kyiv. 

Our national mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) initiative was developed in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Office of the First Lady. Ukrainian hospitals did not offer mental health services before the war. IsraAID trained 60 psychologists and stationed them in 14 hospitals across four regions. They delivered 7,540 individual consultations and provided group counselling sessions for 1,011 crisis-affected civilians, their families, and first responders. When the first phase of the project concluded in Spring 2023, healthcare facilities that had seen the value of MHPSS found a way to budget for 15 psychologists to continue in-house. 45 psychologists continue to work voluntarily with patients or have been included in other partners’ projects.

In the second phase of the project, we are creating a framework for mental health programming within the national healthcare system, beginning with placing a staff psychologist in every hospital in Kyiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Dinipropetrovsk. An additional 75 professionals have received intensive in-person training, and then completed a one-month online follow-up course. We are providing ongoing mentorship to all participants as the program unfolds. 

Looking Forward

As we face another grim milestone with the two-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion, IsraAID is building on all support systems we have put in place to plan for long-term resilience and recovery. From accommodating over 1,000 more children in new CFSs to repairing damaged and destroyed water supply systems that will serve 400,000 people daily, we plan to keep bolstering access to vital services, working closely with our local partners. Together we will boost their capacities to respond to immediate needs and anticipate post-war recovery.

IsraAID is committed to supporting Ukrainian communities affected by this protracted humanitarian crisis. With your support, we can build on our impact so far, reaching further and making a long-term difference for as long as we are needed.

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