The war in Ukraine is a humanitarian disaster. We work with our partners to support refugees.
A little 3.5-year-old boy greets the guests at the entrance of an old village house, clutching a slice of watermelon and a toy car. The voices of teachers echo from various rooms within the house, while the boy's two older sisters attend online classes. Due to the ongoing shelling of the Sumy Oblast’ by the Russian military, traditional schooling has become impossible for the children in this area.
Forced to escape
"We used to live like any other family", says Lesia*, 33. "I gave birth to my third child, and my husband worked as a field surveyor. Everything was going well until that fateful night on February 24th when we were abruptly awakened by a powerful explosion. At that moment, I thought it might have been a gas explosion".
In fact, a full-scale war had begun. The village where this large family lived is located just one kilometer from the Ukrainian-Russian border. "Tanks, armored vehicles, fighter jets – they all seemed to pass through our village. We would rush to the cellar so quickly that we often left our shoes and even some clothing behind."
During one of the attacks with Grad rocket systems, a neighbor lost his life, and Lesia's brother sustained serious injuries, resulting in blindness. However, it was their two-year-old son who finally persuaded the family to leave their home. "When everything around him would explode, he would get so scared".
Now, Lesia and her three children reside 70 kilometers away from their home, in a house that was generously offered by relatives following the owner's death. One night, a part of the ceiling in the children's room collapsed. A shell fragment had pierced the roof during the intense hostilities. Lesya came across information about financial assistance from JERU on the village council's website.
JERU: Joint Emergency Response in Ukraine
Joint Emergency Response in Ukraine (JERU) is a joint effort of Alliance 2015 members Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe (WHH). Thanks to this partnership, the most urgent needs of Ukrainians affected by the war were quickly identified and assistance was provided directly.
This includes Multipurpose Cash Assistance, in other words supporting vulnerable households with cash payments so that they can cover their everyday needs and at the same time boost the ailing local economy.
JERU is a joint effort by several organizations in the Alliance 2015 aid network, of which Welthungerhilfe has been a member since its foundation.
JERU also provides psychosocial counseling for traumatized children and adults, enables families to prepare for the cold winter months, supports Ukrainians in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by the war and grants microloans to small and medium-sized enterprises so that they can survive the wartime conditions. Since the outbreak of the war, JERU has reached 93,000 Ukrainians with cash assistance.
"This money has been a tremendous help", says Lesia. "Not only are we using it to repair the roof, but we've also set aside a certain amount for firewood and purchased fuel. It has also allowed me to buy medicine when the children fell ill."
The financial assistance provided is a start, but many people in Ukraine still lack the most basic necessities. For example, many homes have been destroyed and now provide no shelter from rain, snow and mines in the winter. Russian missile attacks are also aimed at destroying critical infrastructure.
Through our long-standing alliance partners, we can provide sustainable assistance and support for people affected by the war in Ukraine.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy