RE:ACT send team out to access Ukrainian refugee situation

A SOUTH Wiltshire disaster response charity says it would be ready to deploy if its assistance was needed to help refugees fleeing from the conflict in Ukraine.

The charity, which is head quartered in Chilmark, sent out a small team last week to assess the situation in Romania after reports of 50-hour queues at a border crossing point called Siret, with large queues of women and children in cold conditions.

Head of operations Ben Lampard, speaking on Friday, said: “That was an immediate concern to us and that’s why we’ve sent this initial team in to do a needs analysis to really understand what is going and whether there is a place for RE :ACT to provide assistance there.”

The team who flew in on Thursday has since traveled to Moldova.

“What we’ve interpreted is that the Ukrainians have probably now sorted out their procedures to get people swiftly through their check points,” added Ben, who says local NGOs are giving out hot drinks and food and getting transport for refugees coming through.

The two members of the charity’s team on the ground have also spoken to Ukrainians coming across the border who are said to be in relative “good order”.

RE:ACT is also doing “anticipatory action” which will ensure they would be ready to respond if called upon – looking at how it could connect with other charities and how it would get volunteers and equipment out there.

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Ben says that figures are predicting that a potential of eight to 10 million refugees could cross these borders in addition to the one million seen so far.

“The concern is that the vulnerability of the type of refugee coming across that border will change and Europe at some point will potentially reach saturation point,” he explains.

“Those people that are all going and know someone and have got a friend that lives in Poland or Germany that is going to dry up soon and the next wave of potential refugees, this next nine million, could be people that don’t have anywhere to go. That’s where we need potentially to be prepared to go back in to provide support where we can to assist with that.”

‘Seeing and understanding’ the situation

For the charity its work on the ground at the moment is about “seeing and understanding the situation” and talking with the local people as well as making links with organizations already helping.

When asked if RE:ACT would be ready to respond, Ben said: “Absolutely, yes we would.”

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“Where we could potentially provide assistance is probably with the logistical side and distribution of aid and looking after refugees, support other charities to look after them and enable their onward movement to a safer place,” he added.

“We’re setting the conditions with our anticipatory action if the situation changes. That is the key headline for me. The world stage is fearful of eight to ten million refugees coming over that border as the situation gets worse and we’ve only seen a million so far. So even though we may not be doing a response soon as in the next week, we are setting the conditions to be prepared to do that.”

Volunteering

The charity has around 2,000 volunteers on its books with 250 who are trained to respond internationally.

RE:ACT is also mobilizing its network across the UK to be prepared to respond to support refugees coming to this country.

Most recently RE:ACT’s teams of volunteers were out in the south of the country providing support to communities hit by power cuts after Storm Eunice. Working with the power company volunteers helped identify vulnerable residents and offer support.

Commonwealth Games 2022

This summer it will be providing 500 volunteers to support the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

“It is a great opportunity, not only are you taking part in what I think will be a really international event and a big event in the UK post Covid, you are also going to get a security qualification out of that and get work experience and become part of RE:ACT and hopefully then go on to provide support longer term as part of the RE:ACT family,” said Ben.

“It’s a really busy year ahead.”

Also read: RE:ACT set to support 2022 Commonwealth Games

First international deployment since Covid

A team recently returned from Sierra Leone, which was the charity’s first international deployment post Covid. They provided water sanitation facilities which will help communities in Freetown when it floods.

Until now the charity had been unable to install the equipment and train those in the area to use it due to Covid.

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How to get involved

For more information about joining RE:ACT and getting involved in the Commonwealth Games or other volunteering opportunities visit: re-act.org.uk

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