Uzhhorod, 14 May 2022 (TDI): Following Russia’s violent invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, the IFRC has continued to support the Ukrainian people. Since late February, nearly 6 million people have fled Ukraine for safety in neighboring nations.

Women and children have been fleeing for their lives. The few men in the starting lineup are usually older. The younger generation has mostly remained at home to support their country during the conflict.

The children assist the tired and frightened adults in carrying their few valuable possessions.

Teddy bears are tied to their backpacks. Some tiny girls have their own diaper bags.

Some children cling to their mothers with all the power they have. Older children run around, unstable with hope for the experience they have been promised. Their mothers struggle to keep them in check.

People arrive at the Uzhhorod border crossing at all hours of the day and night. Information, food, hot drinks, clothing, and blankets are being provided by Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers.

They are dressed in bright red emergency outfits and are assisting with the transport of people’s belongings up to the border crossing. Some people require wheelchairs, and the volunteers are eager to assist. Volunteers from the Slovak Red Cross will greet them as they cross the border.

IFRC volunteer support

Olexander Bodnar, a 23-year-old Ukrainian Red Cross volunteer, leads the squad in Uzhhorod, near the country’s western border. The staff work shifts at this crossing 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“My team is the most wonderful people on the earth,” he says. “We have so many kind people who have joined us. We have 130 volunteers who have signed up since the conflict began.

Many are nurses and doctors.”

Medical knowledge is highly respected. The Red Cross has set up a small clinic in a newly erected structure, loaded with baby food and diapers. Weary travelers can rest for a short while on the cots that line one side of the clinic.

The volunteers perform basic first aid in this area. Many senior citizens complain about high blood pressure. Trained volunteers check on them and keep the senior team informed.

Older individuals are highly stressed, and some are having panic attacks. This is a typical reaction to an unusual experience.