Through Bereginia and HumanDoc Foundation in Poland, we are working to provide holistic and comprehensive care to women and children evacuated from Mariupol.
"The doctors made a full examination of their conditions, and they noticed that they suffered from sexual violence. But these women, they don’t speak about it, they don’t mention it. But the doctors saw it because of this examination." - Katarina, Vice-President, "Bereginia" – Mariupol's Women's Association.
The Russian invasion has shattered the lives of millions of Ukrainian people. As of April 2022, more than 11 million people have fled the war, mostly women and children. This is the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II. The speed of displacement is unprecedented, and the humanitarian needs are soaring each day - especially for women, children, and the elderly, that make up the majority of those displaced.
To meet the urgent needs of these women, we've launched a Conflict Response Fund for Ukraine, led by our sister organization, Žene za Žene International, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our Director, Seida Sarić, who lived through the siege of Sarajevo and built up a highly effective program for survivors of war in Bosnia, is now leading our assessment of the needs of marginalized women in this conflict.
"Russian invasion of Ukraine reminds me so much of the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina. I lived through the war for four years. It’s our turn now to support women in Ukraine." - Seida Sarić, Director, Žene za Žene International
Seida and her team visited Medyka, Hrebenne, and Korczowa in Poland, at the border of Ukraine, to understand the necessities of women crossing the border. In her conversations with women refugees, they shared their personal stories full of bitter sadness, deep grief, and also their feelings of survivor's guilt, having had to leave their country and family members behind.
Some have had to make the difficult choice between taking their old parents or children with them as they fled their homes.
As part of our assessment, we have identified our first priority partners on the ground: "Bereginia" – Mariupol's Women's Association through HumanDoc Foundation,
A group of "Bereginia" – Mariupol's Women's Association's team escaped the incessant bombing in Mariupol. Our team met Katarina, their vice-president, in Poland where she shared her harrowing 72-hour journey of fleeing from Mariupol.
Katarina shared how the survivors that were evacuated from Mariupol spent weeks in shelters and cellars without access to water, heating, or food and are severely traumatized from their experience. Some of the women have been raped and subjected to sexual violence.
Through these local partners, we are working to provide critical services such as:
Beyond their immediate critical needs, as women refugees begin to adapt to a new life in a new country with their children, we are also looking to provide them with legal counsel, access to Polish language learning courses, and vocational skills so they can become financially independent.
We are also in discussions with local non-profit organizations in Ukraine to assess how we can support women and their families internally displaced in Ukraine.