Siret. March 2022. A 25Km queue of traffic trying to leave the Ukraine at the border post just the other side of the Siret river. Hundreds of refugees on foot. We’re doing what we can.
Situation updates 28th April and 6th, 14th, 29th March – see below
ONV Update 28th April :
We are continuing to help people in need at this time. Together with local churches, we’re sending supplies to be distributed directly to recipients deep in the Ukraine. (See the pictures below) The border remains quiet at this time, but the potential invasion of the Republic of Moldova (border some 50Km to the east of Siret) is extremely worrying. We received this list from volunteers distributing the food in Iprin, north east of Kyiv :
Food: Ready to cook food, rice, pasta, oil, sugar, conserves.
Personal Hygiene : Soap, shampoo, washing cloth
General Medicines: Pain relief, cough medicine, anti-inflammatories, throat and nose syrups, stomach remedies, laxatives, diarrhoea medication
Cleaning and disinfection products. No water or clothes!
ONV Update6th March :
A long read, but we hope you’ll find it both interesting and inspiring
• Since the war started on the 24th of Feb nearly 1.5 million refugees have left the Ukraine. Of these 77,600 have crossed through the Siret border. ( up until 9am March the 6th )
• The highest numbers crossed between the 25 and 28th of Feb which asked a lot of questions of the local authorities , emergency services and numerous NGO’s.
• We reacted immediately by transforming some of ONV’s own accommodation into temporary transit accommodation for the refugees and soon had in place up to 30 beds.
• These have been used frequently since then with the average stay just being for one night as the vast majority of the refugees have then continued on to other parts of Europe to join family or friends.
• Many of these refugees had been travelling for days and some had waited at the border for 2 days to enter.Our facilities offer a hot shower , warm bed with food and drinks provided. • We have also been providing advice services for the refugees and authorities. We have Ukrainian speaking staff and have been working closely with several Embassies.
• We have started purchasing aid ( non-perishable food , painkillers, bandages , baby food and pampers etc from the daily updated list provided by the local council’s Social Assistant department which is co-ordinating the collection of all local aid.
• Since the 1st of March this department has started sending the aid to the Ukraine in small convoys of vans and minibuses to Cernauti ( 45km over the border) and Banceni ( 63km ) which is a social centre for 150 children and nearly 2,000 displaced refugees.
• We plan to continue distributing aid in this way as we see this as the current urgency.
• We have met and are meeting several other Aid agencies from both the UK and USA to see how we can best co-ordinate our joint activities. Discussions have included sending medicines and medical aid to both Kiev and the East of the country when conditions allow.
• Initial planning has also been discussed to help set up mid term accommodation facilities if the requirement arises.We believe that many of the next wave of refugees will be escaping just to get over the border and away from the horror’s of the war. These refugees may not have the possibility to travel on further and indeed may need to be housed locally.
• The current situation is very ﬂuid and the charity needs to adapt to the new challenges that this ongoing humanitarian disaster will bring.
• Our young people at the charity have been a fantastic support in looking after the accommodation facilities and happy to sharing their own accommodation to allow room for the refugees. Seeing them also help unloading aid is a stark reminder here of what happened in the 1990’s.
• Together with Khalsa Aid International we provided funding to help support the local authorities deal with the large volumes of rubbish and logistics it takes to keep the border area clean and hygienic for the massive numbers using it daily.
* We will aim to update you on a weekly basis on the situation and work from over here. Please refrain from posting photos on social media as the privacy of the refugees we feel must be respected as a priority. We suggest you direct people to the site here for updates as we are seeing some confusion with numerous different social media postings while being tagged in others.
Finally a very big thank you for the very generous donations we have received to date and the numerous messages of support and encouragement we have been sent.
Our past President and Founder, Monica McDaid, taught the team well here and our current President Nigel is in constant support for us from the UK.
Lets all hope and pray this war ends now!
ONV update 14th March :
The last week has seen a slowdown of the numb er of refugees coming over the border into Siret. In total approx 390,000 people have now entered Romania since the war started.
To date 111,700 of these have entered through the Siret border ( 84,000 Ukrainian citizens ). Nighttime temperatures have been as low as minus 12 overnight during the past few days, adding to difficulties faced by the refugees.
People entering the border area are now initially being looked after by the Romanian Fire Service who are quickly and efficiently identifying their needs and organising transport to a transit shelter or within Romania or Europe. This means the refugees are being quickly processed and the border is nowhere as blocked as it was during the first ten days. The local authorities and numerous NGO’s continue to give their support at the border, and in fact there are now too many volunteers at the border, so we have already moved on to looking at the longer term requirements and how we can provide concrete assistance over the coming months and, indeed, years.
Like the other NGO’s operating on the border ONV have seen the number of people wanting overnight accommodation fall as the majority of current refugees have somewhere to move on to, although this could of course change at any moment.
During the past week we have been working with an East Midlands Fire Services team from the UK as they were out here on a fact finding visit looking at the current situation. We attended several meetings with them and visited the official refugee camp set up by the Romanian Fire Brigade at the local football stadium. We also visited 2 of the Romanian – Moldova border crossing points and helped assess the situation there with the local authorities. We were able to offer them accommodation in the Charity’s building which their colleagues from The West Midlands Fire Service had built several years ago. (One of the problems with any disaster situation is housing and caring for volunteers and helpers, which can often distract from the real task in hand)
We have continued to offer advice and practical help with numerous cases on a daily basis. We are planning to increase our transit shelter capacity if the need arises.
The activity of both purchasing and collecting aid relief continues as does planning for how we can contribute constructively after the war.
The psychological and counselling needs are currently an area we are researching into.
ONV update 29th March :
The border crossing has more or less returned to its pre-war state. At present there are no refugees crossing, and the tent city set up in Suceava is empty. The area to the north of border around Chernovitz/ Chernauţi has not been attacked, as it is some 600km south of Kiev. We know that there some 500,000 internal refugees in the area, people who currently feel safe enough in this part of the Ukraine, but are close to the border if the situation changes.
We continue to collect and purchase aid and we complemented a half van load driven up to the Kiev area last Friday, via a Ukrainian friend of the charity.
Sadly we also read of the thousands of people with care requirements and special needs that are being forced to move within the country with all the consequences for their long term physical and mental health.
We are actively discussing and researching possible ideas and projects for post war Ukraine.
Many thanks for your continued support and messages.
Please consider a donation. For UK residents and taxpayers, an online donation via FONV’s UK arm, the Romanian Challenge Appeal means that we can claim an additional 25% Gift Aid, via the “Givey” donation system. For non UK residents, the best online way is a PayPal donation in euros.
You can also donate directly to ONV’s bank accounts. (Note, for UK residents we cannot claim gift aid with a direct donation to ONV)
The IBAN codes for our accounts, all with BRD Bank here in Romania:
Together with Khalsa Aid International, we’re providing additional santitation services at the border and in Siret. Not glamorous work, but very necessary.
Our staff in Siret are helping by:
Finding and providing housing and shelter
Providing transport using our Minibus
Providing food and clothing
Liasing with the local authorities
We’re uniquely well placed to help as we have Ukranian speaking staff, as well as long term and trusted relationships with many local government organisations, including :
The Siret Mayor’s Office
Suceava County Social Services
Suceava Child Protection Department
Local Ministry of Health
Local Police and Fire Departments
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