Two years of war How Bonn aid organisations are helping in Ukraine

Bonn · Two years after the start of the war, aid organisations in Bonn still have a lot of work to do in Ukraine. Psychological support in particular is now in demand. The Ukrainians are particularly worried about their children - who are becoming increasingly isolated. Aid organisations report.

The aid organisation Help - Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe from Bonn offers humanitarian support in Ukraine.

The aid organisation Help - Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe from Bonn offers humanitarian support in Ukraine.

Foto: Oro Whitley

No heating, no running water, repeated power cuts - and a flat with broken windows or a broken roof and an internal temperature of four degrees Celsius. This is what life is like for many Ukrainians still living in the frontline areas at the moment. "And they rarely dare to go outside. When they do, they run," reports Sarah Easter, emergency communication officer at the aid organisation Care, based in Bonn. This is because there is the threat of death from bomb attacks, unexploded ordnance or mines on their doorstep. For many, life is like a lottery. "That's what the people on the ground tell me," says Easter. Two years after the start of the war in Ukraine, Bonn-based aid organisations are still very active in the country.

Aktion Deutschland Hilft, which is based in Bonn, is also providing humanitarian aid in Ukraine. Two years after the start of the war, the humanitarian situation has worsened "dramatically", the alliance of over 20 German aid organisations said in a statement. According to the statement, the number of people in need of help has almost quadrupled: before the war began on 24 February 2022, there were around three million people, now there are around 14.6 million - around 40 per cent of the population.

Around ten million people need psychological help

It is mainly older people who have remained in the frontline areas, for example those who were unable to flee due to their limited mobility, explains Easter from Care. Others do not have enough money to build a life in another city. Care tries to improve living conditions for them: The aid organisation is repairing houses and infrastructure and providing people with food, water, medicine and fuel. In other regions, where the destruction is not so immense, a different kind of help is now needed. For example, around ten million people need professional help from psychologists, according to the aid organisation.

In addition to Care, Welthungerhilfe also offers psychosocial support, explains Elke Gottschalk, the organisation's regional director for Ukraine. "This war came very unexpectedly for everyone. For two years now, people have been living under total stress and with unbelievable trauma," says Gottschalk in an interview with the GA. For some Ukrainians, even after two years of war, it is still a matter of pure survival. In other regions, Welthungerhilfe is now trying to enable people to lead a self-determined life again, for example with small loans to set up a small business.

Children only with digital schooling since Covid

The Bonn-based organisation "Help - Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe" is also providing economic support to the people of Ukraine. For example, it provides farmers with veterinary medicine and feed so that they can maintain their production, reports Darya Romanenko, Country Director of Help in Ukraine , when asked by the GA. "A stable economy helps to maintain the livelihoods of the population and facilitate reconstruction," says Romanenko.

Another major concern now is the future of children. "Since the Covid pandemic, they've basically only had online lessons. What's more, many parents are afraid to let their children go outside. As a result, they have hardly any social contact and become isolated," says Gottschalk. She finds it frightening how normal the war, missile alerts and hiding in bunkers have become for children. "What is happening to the younger generation? More and more people are asking themselves this question," summarises the Regional Director.

People remain motivated

Women are also particularly affected by the consequences of the war, says Yuliya Sporysh, Director of the non-governmental organisation "Girls" and women's rights activist. As most of their husbands have been drafted into the army, many have had to give up their jobs and look after the children. In addition, many kindergartens and schools are closed. According to Sporysh, there is a need for investment in educational facilities and childcare services as well as in training for women so that they can go to work. Care is already taking care of this. For children, Care, Welthungerhilfe and Help all offer activities, excursions and therapies.

Although every family has now suffered deaths, people remain willing to help and support their neighbours, friends and displaced people, reports Romanenko. "People live and enjoy the little things in life," she says. Gottschalk from Welthungerhilfe is also impressed by the level of commitment shown by local people. Numerous civil society organisations have emerged that are supported by Welthungerhilfe. "Sometimes I wonder where people get their motivation from. That really is a very positive thing to emphasise."

(Original text: Marie Schneider; Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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