World Vision multiplies its response as more than half of Ukraine’s children displaced

Need for basic food and hygiene supplies in Ukraine increasing rapidly

World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth will return to Eastern Europe this weekend as World Vision expands its response to the spiralling refugee crisis in Ukraine.

Daniel said as the conflict enters and new and dangerous phase, he is returning to Ukraine, Romania and Moldova this Sunday (April 24) – the conflict’s two-month anniversary – as World Vision ramps up its response to the crisis 10-fold over the coming weeks.

“The world is watching this conflict escalate and become more devastating, and World Vision is responding to meet the soaring humanitarian needs that are emerging as a result,” he said. “That means more staff are needed with expertise in humanitarian and refugee responses.

“The numbers are distressing – half of all children in Ukraine have fled their homes in the past two months, and more than two million children have escaped the country on dangerous journeys with parents and family, crossing borders, never knowing when they might be able to return.”

World Vision is hiring about 40 staff to work inside Ukraine as World Vision sets up offices in the west of the country, as well as boosting its responses in Romania and Moldova.

While the situations World Vision has been witnessing in neighbouring countries were bad enough, there are even more dreadful situations of desperation and deprivation inside Ukraine – “people who are hungry, without consistent shelter and without livelihoods, and the continued impacts all of this is having on children. Therefore, it’s essential that we continue to boost our response to help them.”

“The speed and scale of this crisis has been shattering.” – Daniel Wordsworth

The number of refugees forced to flee Ukraine has hit a staggering five million, over eight weeks of fighting, making it the most rapid exodus of refugees in memory.

And as Russia reportedly prepares to mount further attacks in eastern Ukraine, and Odesa under threat, Daniel said the region must brace for that number to swell even further.

“The speed and scale of this crisis has been shattering,” he said,

“Earlier estimates predicted the number of refugees would hit 4 million by July. Here we are in mid-April, and 5 million people have taken the extraordinary, life-changing decision to leave their homeland. Imagine, for example, the entire population of New Zealand seeking refuge in Australia.”

“That five million figure doesn’t include the estimated 7.1 million people who’ve sought refuge within Ukraine and who are in desperate need of food, shelter and protection. There are almost 3 million people who’ve sought whatever refuge they can find in the towns and cities of western Ukraine alone.

“Among all these numbers, though, the most upsetting is the reality that well over half of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children have had to flee their homes. That’s several million children who are either refugees in a foreign land or effectively trapped within their own country. These children have been ripped from their friends, communities, schools and the normality that are a source of such comfort and security for children. The job of caring for Ukrainians will be a long one, but the job of repairing the damaged souls from this conflict will be even longer.”