DNIPRO, UKRAINE: REPORT FROM A DAY CENTER WELCOMING CIVILIANS FLEEING COMBAT ZONES
The teams of Première Urgence Internationale have been intervening in the Dnipro region for almost a year. Thanks to an integrated approach, they provide initial support in health, mental health, and protection to civilians who have fled combat zones. They live partly in collective accommodation centers. In Ukraine, there are nearly 5.4 million internally displaced civilians in the country, and 18 million people still need emergency humanitarian aid.
At a day center in Dnipro that supports nearly 20,000 people, Andriy, Nataliia, Iryna*, Tetiana, Irena reflect on their experiences and the support provided by the Première Urgence Internationale teams for many months.
A reception center for displaced people from Bakhmut, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Konstantinivska.
“This day center welcomes civilians from the Bakhmut, Konstantinivska, Sloviansk, and Kramatorsk regions, who had to flee areas under intense bombing,” explains Andriy, the center’s director. “Here, they can receive medical, psychological, and social support. Sometimes we organize distributions,” he adds. “In 90% of cases, civilians who arrive need medical assistance and psychological support. They are helpless and have sometimes experienced very traumatic moments. In this center, they can meet a social worker, a doctor and nurse, and a psychologist from Première Urgence Internationale.”
“I met with the social worker from Première Urgence who gave me useful information. I come from Bakhmut and plan to go to Poland to find work there.”
“Most of the beneficiaries who come here are elderly people who have hypertension, diabetes, joint problems, etc. We alleviate their suffering as best we can with free consultations and medication. We also refer them to specialists and treating physicians,” reports Tetiana, medical referral for the mobile team of Première Urgence Internationale.
Uncertainty about the future increases anxiety and stress.
The response provided by Première Urgence Internationale in collective accommodation centers includes mental health support. In December, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that nearly 10 million people in Ukraine needed psychological support due to the war.
“I came here initially to see the doctor because I have high blood pressure,” explains Iryna. “I try not to think about the future because I don’t know what will happen. I lost my home, and it is unthinkable to go back to Bakhmut right now. There is no more water, no more electricity, and constant bombardment. And when you approach retirement age, it’s more complicated to find a new job. That’s my case, for example. My life is divided between before and after the war,” Iryna from Bakhmut.
“The people I meet here feel a lot of anxiety. My role is to reassure them, to give them relaxation techniques and stress management skills.”
Reassurance to reduce stress
“The people I meet here feel a lot of anxiety. They worry about their future and do not know what tomorrow will bring. Many have lost their homes, their previous lives, and sometimes loved ones and family members. They have to readjust to a new environment and look for new bearings. My role is to reassure them, to give them relaxation techniques and stress management skills. They will be able to apply them in moments of emotional overload,” explains Ksenia during a visit to this reception center.
In 2022, the mobile teams of Première Urgence Internationale supported over 20,000 internally displaced people through free health, mental health, and protection consultations in the regions of Dnipro, Kharkiv, Poltava, Donetsk, and Lviv.
*Some names have been changed