On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, beginning in 2014. The invasion has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides, and caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II. By June 2022, about 8 million Ukrainians were displaced within their country. More than 8.2 million fled the country by May 2023.
On March 15th 2023, Ruhi and Andrea Frigerio first travelled to Warsaw to asses the situation for those fleeing war stuck at the railway and bus stations and then to the the Poland-Ukraine border to:
- Asses the situation for people feeling the war
- Support volunteers and organisations on the ground, raising funds and distributing humanitarian aid.
- Raise awareness on the situation and feedback to organisations in the UK how best to support.
- Investigate the situation for marginalised communities and people of colour as news emerged they were being stopped at the borders from crossing.
With donations, support and collections of aid for redistribution in Ukraine from the excess support that presented at the Poland side, we were able to transport 3 Luton van loads of aid including:
- Water, juice, easy, on the go food items and blankets for the people crossing at the Ukraine border into Poland.
- Dried food items and household hygiene products for those who are internally displaced and still in neighbouring Ukrainian villages and cities from the border.
What started out as a small team of Ruhi, Andrea and Josh Mojica from our partner organisation Goodfavor, soon became into a collaborative effort including many organisations and volunteers coming together to help.
Whilst there was no permissions to be able to transport larger vehicles of aid across the border into Ukraine, many volunteers got together, forming a human chain to transport this aid via foot, in trolleys across the border.
As well as providing humanitarian aid we:
- Helped with distributions
- Supported people waiting in the line with any special needs.
- Helped with coordination of volunteers and putting smaller systems in place to support our colleagues there from our previous learning and experiences.
- Transported people with wheelchairs and people carriers
- Sorted and packed aid
- Rented people carrier vehicles to transport those with increased vulnerabilities to other cities in Poland, who couldn’t travel on the government set up transport with ease.
We worked long hours, during the day and night, crossing over the borders when our colleagues asked for emergency support as they expected an influx of people due to recent airstrikes.
We continue to monitor the situation for people affected by the Ukraine war and our partner organisations there, have since, assisted other organisations and volunteers travelling their to support with information for their aid distributions remotely, shared our existing resources and networks so they can continue, and will support again should and as the need for our support, at Refugee Biriyani & Bananas, arises.