People in Need aid coordinator for Ukraine says Czech support is ongoing
One of the biggest providers of Czech humanitarian aid in Ukraine has been the NGO People in Need. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reached 600 days on Monday, I spoke to Petr Štefan, humanitarian aid coordinator in the country, and I first asked him about the recent attack on a cultural centre in in the Donetsk region, which People in Need used as a warehouse:
“This house of culture served as a storage place for humanitarian assistance of People in Need and other organisations. We used it to store construction material for the reconstruction of houses for 200 families of Novoselivka and a neighbouring settlement. So now we are trying to find a way how we can support the community and provide them with assistance again.”
People in Need have been helping in eastern Ukraine since the beginning of the war in 2014, but since the Russian invasion 600 days ago, you massively expanded your help. How many members of your team are currently operating in Ukraine?
“We currently have over 330 employees across the country, so we have significantly increased both the team and the budget. Currently, we are very much focused on winterisation activities, which means reconstruction of houses.
“By the way, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we have already repaired 11,700 houses, but also 20 schools and bomb shelters under the school, and also 80 collective centres where displaced people are staying right now. So this is the main focus before the winter, but we have many other activities in Ukraine as well.”
So can you outline some of the other priorities apart from those that you have already mentioned?
“Of course the humanitarian situation differs, depending on the region. Along the frontline, we provide people with hygiene kits and water. We are also offering financial assistance. This way we support over 126,000 people since the full-scale invasion.
“I already mentioned the schools, so we repaired many schools and bomb shelters under these schools. But we are also doing something called digital learning centres, we already established 10 of them, where children can go after school to do various activities and improve their IT skills.
“And then there is a big package of help connected with the psycho-social wellbeing of people in Ukraine. And there we also offer various types of support to people.”
All this help would not have been possible without the support of your donors. How much money have you raised since the start of the invasion?
“Just last year we were able to collect over two billion crowns through our fundraising appeal SOS Ukraine. This year it is already one hundred million crowns, which shows that Czechs solidarity is ongoing. For example, after the breach of the Kakhovka dam, we were able to collect almost 43 million crowns in just one month.”
And finally, how many people have you supported to this day?
“To this day, we have supported over one million people in Ukraine, but this would never be possible without the 200 and something local organisations that receive our grants and are helping together with us.”