Categories: NewsPublished On: 12.06.2024

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One of the components of ADRA Ukraine’s humanitarian assistance is providing free evacuation and transportation to critical infrastructure. Anastasia Yehorova, an evacuation coordinator, speaks about this today.

Anastasia, tell us please what ADRA Ukraine does for people who need transport assistance during the war?

I have been working as an evacuation coordinator since April 2022. Now ADRA Ukraine is evacuating from Kherson, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions. Previously, we also evacuated people from the Luhansk region, but now almost the entire region is no longer controlled by Ukraine. We also have an evacuation in Odesa city. We provide transportation for people to the border, where they can then be evacuated abroad by other organizations. We have 19-seater buses for evacuating mobile individuals and an ambulance for people with limited mobility. There are two cases for evacuation. In the first case, local authorities provide us with a list of people they have registered for evacuation. In the second case, people call our call center, and we collect the applications ourselves. We then gather everyone in a safe place and start the evacuation. If there is any person with limited mobility – we transport him/her by ambulance directly from their home or hospital. Of course, in this case, they need support from their relatives or acquaintances. We also have a «Returning Beneficiaries Back Home» component for people who were evacuated after 2022 but want to return home. However, we don’t return people to the Donetsk and Kherson regions, as these are still quite dangerous. We can only return them to areas without hostilities. We are the first organization in Ukraine who are providing this type of assistance.

Now ADRA Ukraine has two evacuation projects in action: the «LEAP» project (Lifesaving Evacuation, Assistance and Protection) providing by Government of Canada and ADRA Canada, and the «PEACE Bridging Period» project (Psychosocial Support, Emergency Assistance and Community Support in Eastern Ukraine Bridging Period) supported by Aktion Deutschland Hilft (a connection of German aid agencies for humanitarian aid) and ADRA Germany. Both projects have components of evacuation and transportation of people to critical infrastructure.

Within the «LEAP» project, we cover the Limanska, Svyatogirska and Cherkaska communities in the Donetsk region, and within the «PEACE Bridging Period» project, we cover the Novovorontsovska community in the Kherson region, Apostolivska and Zelenodolska communities in the Dnipropetrovsk region and Stepnenska and Mikhailo-Lukashivska communities in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Did you have any other projects?

There was the project in 2022 that was supported by ADRA Czech Republic. Back than ADRA Ukraine purchased buses and started the evacuation along the entire front line. In May 2022, we also had the project funded by «UHF» – Ukrainian Humanitarian Fund supported by UNOCHA (the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), that was launched before the full-scale invasion. Untill the February 2022 we provided with the transportation to critical infrastructure in Lugansk and Donetsk regions. After beginning of the war, this project was expanded, so we had to stop transportation to the critical infrastructure because of occupation of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, and switched the activity to evacuation. The team started to evacuate people from the entire Donetsk region: Bakhmut, Toretsk, Kurakhovo, Konstantinivka, Severodonetsk, Liman. Also, there was an evacuation from Chernihiv, Zaporizhzhia and Melitopol city, which was the uncontrolled UA territory of Zaporizhzhia region. From May 2022, evacuations began in the Donetsk region (Kurakhivska community), as well as in the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions. Then, as part of the «UHF» project, we were able to purchase more transport, therefore we began to work in Dnipro region too. The «UHF» project was going until the end of September 2022.

In October 2022, began another project, supported by German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) and ADRA Germany. This project had both activities, evacuation and transportation to critical infrastructure, and it was going until the end of 2023, and then it was replaced by the «PEACE Bridging Period» project. The Canadian «LEAP» project is coming to its and in June 2024.

In 2022, after the Lugansk region became uncontrolled, most of our evacuation was directed in Zaporizhzhia city, because there was a humanitarian corridor. People from uncontrolled territories crossed the checkpoints and came to Zaporizhzhia city (controlled by Ukraine). There were a lot of people, so we used all ADRA’s transport. Also, in the summer of 2022, thanks to the Ministry of Reintegration, we were able to enter the nearest uncontrolled territories temporarily and to evacuated people out.

We continue to evacuate people who come to our logistics center in Zaporizhzhia city. Volunteers form groups and then we transport them to safer places. When there were a lot of people, our drivers worked seven days a week, almost without a rest. Only in May 2024, ADRA Ukraine evacuated 319 people and transported 2,516 people.

In total, from March 1 of 2022 to May 31 of 2024, ADRA Ukraine evacuated 29,741 people within the «UHF», «LEAP», «GFFO» projects, as well as with the support of ADRA Czech Republic. Also, within the «UHF», «GFFO», «LEAP», «PEACE» projects from May 1 of 2022 to May 31 of 2024, ADRA Ukraine was able to provide 73,870 people with the social transportation.

Who of the citizens can be evacuated, do you have any selection criteria?

We don’t have any special criteria. We have only a division of territories from which we can provide evacuation. If people call us from safe regions of Ukraine, we do not evacuate from there.

Now there are no completely safe places in Ukraine, but people anyway want to evacuate to more safer places than their home districts, right?

Yes. For example, if we evacuate people from Volchansk city of Kharkiv region, where the hostilities have intensified, then we first evacuate them to Kharkiv city, because, at this moment it is more safe there and people are able to get all types of the main assistance. So, if we compare Volchansk and Kharkiv cities, then Kharkiv is a safer territory. If evacuated people want to go furtherwe help them. We always collect information about safe areas, and then make a final decision. Generally, we bring people to Lviv, Kropyvnytskyi, Uman, Poltava, Kyiv, because at this moment it is much safer there. We also have shelters there, which ADRA Ukraine support financially within the «LEAP» project.

What about the transportation to critical infrastructure, what is it?

That type of assistance is useful for people in communities where there is no any transport due to the war and people don not have direct access to basic services, such as hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores and so on. It is mostly used by elderly people, who belong to the most vulnerable category of the population. These people are unable to pay for a taxi to go to another city for their needs. Within the «LEAP» project, we provide transportation to the critical infrastructure in the Kramatorsk district of Donetsk region, this is Svyatogirska, Limanska and Cherkaska communities. Within the «PEACE» project, we provide transportation in Kherson region – Novovorontsovska community, Dnipropetrovsk region – Zelenodolska and Apostolovska communities and in Zaporizhzhia region – Stepnenska and Mikhail-Lukashevska communities.

Please, tell us about your team of drivers.

Most of our drivers working in ADRA Ukraine projects are internally displaced persons. They understand benefitiaries’ situation very well, because they had experinced everything themselves. Some of them once lost their homes due to the hostilities in 2022, and some of them have lost their homes even twice – first time in 2014 (in Eastern Ukraine) and then again in 2022. Our drivers are highly motivated to help others. Stometimes they are supporting people like psychologists, they calm passengers and tell some stories to make evacuation more comfortable for everyone. Now ADRA Ukraine has 10 drivers – 6 drivers in the «LEAP» project and 4 in the «PEACE» project.

Please, tell us also about the challenges that ADRA Ukraine volunteers are facing with while providing evacuation.

One of the important needs is a shelter for immobile people. This issue has not been resolved by the Ukraine Government yet. We talk about free shelters for elderly people, people with limited mobility and people with disabilities. Yes, they can ask for help at government shelters, but if they have relatives, shelters will not let them to stay there. Unfortunately, government shelters ignore the fact that the relatives of a person with limited mobility are either in the occupied territories, or went abroad and cannot help them. In this case only private shelters can take care of such people. Thus, many people with limited mobility do not want to leave their homes, they think that nobody wants to take care of them. After all, even if we temporarily bring them to a transit center for a week or two, where should they go later? Especially if they need special living conditions. This is a real problem not only for ADRA Ukraine, but for the whole country – there is no suitable place for these people at the moment.

Even if we talk about mobile people, many of them return back home to dangerous areas due to the fact that they cannot stay in shelters on a permanent basis. They can stay in shelters up to three month, and then they are forced to move out and look for a new housing, that is often financially impossible, especially for a large family.

At the Lviv Transit Center, organized by the «Borys Voznytskyi Foundation» which ADRA Ukraine is also supporting, there is an HR specialist who helps IDPs to find a job and housing. But not every transit center has such specialists and most of the people who are staying in these centers are elderly. We definitely need to create more long-term residence shelters for IDPs.

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