On February 24, 2022, Russia launched an early morning attack into Ukraine. Air-raid sirens and explosions were heard across the country. This follows nearly eight years of strained Russian and Ukrainian relations over a conflict in the Crimean and Donbas areas of Ukraine that have been occupied by Russia since 2014. Below, we detail our response to this ongoing crisis and provide key information on the developing situation.

Medical Teams responds to Ukraine crisis

As soon as we could after the initial attack, our teams began assessing the needs in Ukraine and the surrounding areas. More than a year later, we are still in the region providing care to those who need it most. Currently, we are serving two primary areas of the country, providing and supporting access to physical and mental health services for communities affected by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

People in Ukraine with bags walking single file along road
Ukrainians cross the border after the February 2022 attacks. Photo: Jana Čavojská

Previously, Medical Teams was on the ground in Moldova providing medical care for Ukrainian refugees. Moldova is one of the top receiving countries of refugees and the large influx threatened to overwhelm the country’s fragile health system. Our teams of volunteer doctors and nurses helped deliver urgent medical care to refugees at border crossings in Moldova. They trained frontline staff on trauma first aid, basic life support and psychological first aid. Additionally, we worked with partners to deliver medical equipment and supplies to local health centers.

Also as a part of our initial response, we partnered with the Ukrainian-American Cultural Association of OR & SW WA to deliver seven tons of crucial medical supplies to Ukraine. We also partnered with two humanitarian organizations in the region, Integra in Slovakia and Coram Deo in Moldova, to provide beds, hygiene kits, and meals to Ukrainian refugees.

The current situation on the ground and in neighboring countries where refugees are going is chaotic. Because of donor support, our staff quickly responded to the needs in and around Ukraine. Consider giving today to further advance our efforts.

Three men sit on suitcases waiting
Three men, despondent, wait at a border crossing. Photo: Jana Čavojská

What’s happening in Ukraine

The people of Ukraine are suffering. The Russian-Ukrainian situation has seen – and will continue to see – increasing volatility. Many towns and villages have been completely wiped out. Hotels and homes in western Ukraine are bursting at the seams with displaced families seeking safety. Reports cite more than five million refugees have crossed into Ukraine’s neighboring countries of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and other countries since February 2022. This number is expected to grow in the coming weeks. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates there are currently 15 million people in need of life-saving care.

This crisis is now the largest movement of people in Europe since WWII. Health systems in Ukraine, and in neighboring countries where refugees are fleeing, are under extreme stress. COVID-19 has stretched resources thin and health facilities are being destroyed in the conflict. The need for medical supplies and staffing is significant, particularly in the east of the country. A huge warehouse belonging to the largest pharmaceutical wholesaler and distributor in Ukraine was burned to the ground. Doctors, nurses and mental health professionals in many areas are struggling to cope and working overtime to try to meet the demand.

People with bags waiting to board train
Refugees wait by a train as they flee Ukraine. Photo: Jana Čavojská

Many Ukrainians are in urgent need of medical care and medicine. People living with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, and children are at high risk for complications and becoming seriously ill. There is also a growing need for mental health services as men, women and children cope with being forced from their homes and witnessing traumatic events.