Women sit on beds at a shelter housing displaced people in Ukraine

Overcrowded refuges support displaced families

Refuges in eastern Ukraine are providing shelter to people displaced by the conflict. Humanity & Inclusion’s support is vital to address the critical needs residents and caretakers.

Natalia, 34, and Konstantin, 32, (pictured below) are from the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. During a previous conflict beginning in 2014, they headed to Novomoskovsk, northeast of Dnipro. They settled there permanently in 2019, opening a refuge for isolated people, including older individuals, children and women escaping violence, and people with disabilities.

Since Russia’s invasion in February, the number of residents at the refuge has doubled to 130 people, including families displaced from across eastern Ukraine. Bedrooms are crowded, but the center is making room for those in need.

At a breaking point

Natalia, who recently gave birth to their daughter, manages the refuge. She cleans houses to earn a small income. Konstantin does the same by working as a laborer on construction sites. Their meager income no longer covers their water and electricity bills.

Unable to buy wood, they heat the refuge by burning cardboard and waste. A network of Ukrainian volunteers donates food, but there is a lack of nutritious items, like fresh fruits and vegetables.

A bomb recently destroyed a fuel depot less than a mile away. The residents rushed to the cellar where crates and blankets had been prepared in advance. Unable to use the stairs, some 30 residents with reduced mobility had to be carried to safety by Konstantin.


Safeguarding dignity

Out of 70 older people who live at the refuge, 40 require everyday nursing care. All residents with reduced mobility shared one toilet chair and three wheelchairs between them, until Humanity & Inclusion provided more.

Since the refuge lacks appropriate equipment and staff, the biggest challenge is to manage the hygiene of care-dependent people. Although the refuge has enough incontinence pads, they are not always the best solution. Natalia believes that if someone is able to go to the toilet, they should not be forced to wear diapers. The showers are inaccessible for people with reduced mobility.

Humanity & Inclusion distributed wheelchairs, toilet chairs, bed pans, walking frames and walking sticks to the refuge run by Natalia and Konstantin. These technical hygiene and mobility aids have improved the care management and day-to-day lives of the most care-dependent residents, and provide Natalia, Konstantin and the other residents with a degree of respite. Several organizations have also joined forces to provide the refuge with hygiene products.

Humanity & Inclusion experts have identified a need for mental health and psychosocial support, particularly for children, at the center.

Aiding eastern Ukraine

Humanity & Inclusion continues to extend its relief eastward, where needs are most pressing. Teams are focusing on assisting people facing particularly vulnerable circumstances, as well as refuges and their staff.

Implementing a system to distribute emergency financial support, Humanity & Inclusion can help refuges address their most acute needs. The organization has already supplied relief to three refuges and two community centers in Dnipro and the Kharkiv region where many residents are care-dependent or live with mental disabilities.

Until recently, it was almost impossible to supply relief to this region in the east of the country.

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