According to the Russian Federal Migration Service, there are over 800,000 Ukrainian refugees in Russia. Since July 2014, our volunteers have provided aid in the form of clothes, food and medicines through its Moscow and St. Petersburg centers. “We felt that we couldn’t just stand aside and see a humanitarian crisis of such magnitude unfold,” says Tanya, an Embracing the World volunteer. Below are two stories about these refugees and what our volunteers are doing to help.
Slaviansk and Pervomaisk are two towns located in SouthEast Ukraine. In April 2014, an armed conflict broke out in Southeast Ukraine in April 2014 forcing hundreds of thousands to leave their homes. Elena and her husband Oleg are two refugees who fled to Russia from the town of Slaviansk that was badly hit during a military operation in the spring of 2014. They lost their son in the conflict.
After staying in a refugee camp for some time, the couple found a distant relative in St. Petersburg who invited them to stay with her. However, being a single mother with limited income, their relative had limited means to provide for them. Elena’s husband has suffered from two strokes several years before, and has since been bedridden. Between taking care of Oleg, and being unable to obtain a residence permit for work, has left Elena in a desperate condition. Until Embracing the World volunteers in Russian stepped in and began funding the couple’s basic needs including food and medicine.
In the summer of 2014 heavy bombing began in the town of Pervomaisk. Searching for safety, Tatiana and her elderly mother Antonina left their hometown and fled to Russia. Thinking the situation in Pervomaisk temporary, they packed only a few things. But the cold Russian winter found them in St. Petersburg, as the bombs continued to fall at home. The unexpected situation left them without any warm clothes and in a shared apartment with two other refugees. Tatiana could hardly earn enough money for food or rent. Embracing the World volunteers collected warm clothes for them and provided Antonina with medicines.
Volunteers also collected funds to purchase staples such as cereals, canned food, condensed milk, food and sanitary items for babies. The products were handed over to the Red Cross for distribution among the refugees.