Ukraine, Dnipro: More than 200 days after the war’s beginning, the situation of the civilian population have not improved
To respond to the needs of the civilian population with health care, mental health and psycho-social support, Première Urgence Internationale is deploying three mobile teams directly to centers housing internally displaced persons in the city and region of Dnipro in Ukraine.
Since June, three PUI mobile teams have been visiting centers for internally displaced persons in the city and region of Dnipro every day. Each team is composed of a doctor, a nurse, a social worker and a psychologist. These teams guarantee access to basic health care for the most vulnerable civilians who have fled the war zones.
There are currently 6.6 million internally displaced persons in Ukraine. 1.9 million of them are in the eastern regions, including Dnipro, Zaporizhia, and Kharkiv.  Many have fled leaving everything behind, and have had their access to health services limited or temporarily halted due to the security situation. 512 attacks on health facilities in the country have been recorded since February 24, contributing to the disruption of access to health care for the most vulnerable populations. To date, an estimated 14.5 million civilians are in need of medical assistance in the country. 
Medical needs keep increasing.
Internally displaced persons live in collective reception centers that are sometimes geographically distant from traditional health facilities, or they are not aware of existing facilities in their new place of residence. By going directly to the civilian populations in the various reception centers each day, Première Urgence Internationale’s mobile teams respond to an immediate need, while waiting for the beneficiaries to return to traditional health facilities.
“IDPs have various health problems: stress, high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes, which require medical follow-up,” reports Olga, a doctor with Première Urgence Internationale in one of the mobile teams in Dnipro. “Recently, I had the case of a woman who had fled the combat zones near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region. She waited until the last moment before leaving, and even the volunteers could not evacuate the civilians anymore because of the intense fighting that was going on. She had to walk several kilometers with her husband before she could be picked up. When we saw her, she had very high blood pressure and was in a high state of stress,” she says. We listened to her and she was given something to regulate her blood pressure. When she came back to us, her blood pressure had gone down,” says Olga.
In less than three months, Première Urgence Internationale’s mobile teams have visited 31 shelters in the city and region of Dnipro on a daily basis, providing health, mental health and protection services to more than 4,480 beneficiaries.
Some beneficiaries live far from traditional medical facilities and have more specific questions, such as this one about a pregnancy. August 2022 © Première Urgence Internationale
Some needs are more specific: “I arrived in the Dnipro region last April with my 9 year old daughter and I am several months pregnant”, confides a beneficiary from the Dnipro region, “for the moment we are living in a reception center far from the city and therefore from a public hospital structure. For the first time, I went to see a team from Première Urgence Internationale to check on my pregnancy and they gave me vitamins for pregnant women”, she says.
War has significantly increased the need for psychological support
Following the experience of war, IDPs often report stress, anxiety and insomnia, indicating the need for psychological care. They are then referred to the psychologist of the mobile teams. In August alone, the psychologists of the mobile teams in the Dnipro region accompanied 604 beneficiaries.
“I try to help them by giving them techniques to calm down, such as breathing exercises, the butterfly hug technique or art therapy,” says Maria, a psychologist at Première Urgence Internationale in Dnipro. “Many have lost their homes, their jobs and sometimes even loved ones. They have experienced a sudden, brutal change that they cannot control. I am there to reassure them and help them to stabilize emotionally. Crying, feeling anxious or stressed are all normal reactions given the context in which they live. They don’t have to feel guilty about it,” she says.
Finally, art therapy workshops are set up with the children, “so that they can express themselves by creating,” adds Maria.
Organized social support for IDPs
The needs of beneficiaries also concern legal and administrative issues. Première Urgence Internationale’s mobile teams in Ukraine includes a social worker who accompanies IDPs through certain administrative procedures, informs them of their rights and directs them to institutions specializing in humanitarian aid or to state social services.
“A real discussion takes place between the beneficiaries and myself”, underlines Roman, a social worker at Première Urgence Internationale in Dnipro, “I listen to them carefully to understand their situations and their needs. I help them by sharing the latest information on their rights and the government services available.” Even if their situations remain complex, “I will continue to help them as long as I can,” concludes Roman.
Most IDPs have questions about administrative and legal procedures. “I lost my house during the bombings. I had the opportunity to discuss with the social worker who told me how to receive financial aid”, says a beneficiary of Dnipro, who originally came to meet only the medical teams.
The work of Dnipro’s mobile teams is supported by UHF/OCHA, and by donations from Americares, Tulipassociation and Protectioncivile.