Camillians on the front line to welcome Ukrainian refugees at Warsaw station – Poland
Since the very beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, CADIS International, a humanitarian foundation of the Catholic Order of St. Camilla, has mobilized its resources in collaboration with Camillian missionaries in Poland.
With more than 3.5 million people having fled to Poland since February 24, the immediate priority has been to feed and shelter vulnerable women, children and the elderly fleeing different parts of the country, particularly Mariupol. and Kyiv.
CADIS International implements an emergency response program of first assistance to refugees arriving at the railway and bus stations in Warsaw, temporary shelters to the most needy families, psychosocial, medical and humanitarian support to refugees and displaced persons in Interior (PDI) in Odessa and Kramatorks. The general objective is to provide the necessary and humane living conditions for refugees and displaced persons and to help refugees acquire a certain level of autonomy in their lives.
In addition to meeting their basic food and shelter needs, other components of the program include the following: medical, psychosocial and humanitarian support, Polish lessons, socio-cultural activities, job orientation and unconditional financial assistance.
At the central railway and bus stations in Warsaw, the team of the Camillian Social Assistance Mission (CMSA) coordinates and facilitates first reception and assistance activities for refugees. During the months of March and April, CMSA volunteers served up to 10,000 refugees arriving at train stations daily. In May, the city government and the management of the stations entrusted the CMSA with the management and reception of refugees. More than 200 volunteers, Polish and foreign nationals, rendered services 24/7. Several information counters have been installed at strategic points in the stations; volunteers come and go on station premises to make sure no one is left behind. A temporary tent has been installed just outside the stations where hot meals are served with a friendly space for children while waiting for their final dispatch to refuges (hotel or family home).
In May, it was noticed that the new arrivals at the stations decreased considerably. There were also a number of refugees who returned to Ukraine to safe areas. In June, CMSA volunteers served 3,500 to 5,000 newly arrived refugees; around 1,000 meals are served daily in the tent. New arrivals received a one-time cash assistance of PLN 500 through Sodexo cards distributed at CMSA headquarters after checking in at train stations. Online registration using cash is also available on their mobile phones. 250 cards are distributed in batches to avoid overcrowding at the centre. Cash assistance is granted to certain priority groups: mother with a child, elderly person, disabled person and single traveler. The CMSA team has also concluded cooperation with the authorities of the city of Warsaw and Piaseczno for the distribution of cash assistance to the most needy refugees.
Two temporary shelters in Ursus and Lomianki are provided to 48 refugees, especially those with children and the needy. The objective is not only to provide a room to stay but a dignified shelter (home) where refugees can act with autonomy. Rooms with bathroom and toilet are made available to each refugee family. Some of the refugees are employed under the program and provide services for daily maintenance and meal preparation. Psychologists come weekly for growth group sessions and individual counselling. A team of doctors and nurses visit the refugees weekly and refer them to medical needs that require special attention. Both facilities are equipped with child-friendly spaces, computer labs, internet, laundry service, shared kitchen and dining room to facilitate interaction between them. Cultural events, summer camps, robotics courses, nursery and primary schools are offered to them. Employment assistance programs are also planned to help mothers find a source of income and find an apartment so that they can regain what they have lost, in particular their autonomy and independence. In August, the Lomianki shelter will welcome another 20 needy families.
Assistance to internally displaced persons is provided to Ukraine in the towns of Bucza, Chernihiv and other places in the east. A total of 30,000 displaced people will receive humanitarian aid (food and non-food) by August. Two public hospitals in Odessa (8,000) and Karmatorks (2,000) received vital medical equipment and essential drugs and indirectly helped a total of 10,000 people – 2 high-frequency radio wave devices for surgery, 3 infusomats , 2 electrocoagulators and 2 ultrasound devices adapted to Doppler. These hospitals treat wounded civilians from the front and all those evacuated from the border. Medical supplies were also distributed in Lviv, reaching 2,000 people. The relief distribution is done in collaboration with Dobra Fabryka, a Polish NGO, and local contacts in the churches.
The humanitarian aid program is a joint effort of the Tzu Chi Foundation, Salute e Sviluppo, Missione Calcutta, Pro.Sa, CESMET, the Polish Camillians and the Camillian Disaster Service International Foundation, the lead organization.
Our priority now is to help refugees in Poland find a clear path to their future, whether they live in Poland or other countries in Europe or return home to Ukraine. The unpredictable and unstable situation of the Ukrainian crisis should not prevent refugees from starting a new life and regaining their autonomy. CADIS is committed to assisting refugees until they regain independence and normality. CADIS accompanies them in this process of recovering their dreams for the future.
Updates are regularly published on www.cadisinternational.org