The effort to aid refugees as Ukrainians continue to flee their country

More than 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia’s invasion. According to the United Nations, about 2.2 million refugees have fled to Poland and leaders across the world say it is a growing humanitarian crisis.

Sebastian Rejak, Director of American Jewish Committee Central Europe, has been in Poland assisting refugees. He spoke to WTOP about what he was seeing.

“There’s nothing spectacular in what you see, because you see the faces of people who have been waiting for long hours, and even days to cross the border,” said Rejak.

For many Ukrainians, he said, this is the first time in days, or weeks that they feel safe and are able to get a warm meal. But, for many, reaching safety comes with conflicted feelings.

“They still keep thinking about their loved ones who are in Ukraine. But, of course, there is this joy, and very often a sigh of relief, because now they at least are in a safe place,” he said.

Rejak said he has no doubt this is “the biggest humanitarian crisis in this part of Europe, if not all of Europe, since 1945.”

He said his organization has brought supplies, like nonperishable food and hygiene products to the Ukrainian refugees. So far they have raised more than $2 million for the effort.

“This money is already going to relief organizations in Moldova, but also in Poland,” said Rejak. He said the money will go toward food and medicine, but will also employ people to work on hotlines, offering free information to Ukrainians.

The money will be also used to help employ Ukrainian teachers. Rejak said that, due to the high amount of children joining the Polish education system, “they will need teachers who speak Ukrainian.”

Rejak is urging individuals to also donate items like bulletproof jackets, tactical helmets and other defensive gear if they come across them. There is also a need for medicine and first aid gear.

“There’s a huge need for bandages and medications in Ukraine. You can ship all of that to Poland, and through Poland to Ukraine,” Rejak said.

You can learn more and also donate to AJC’s stand with Ukraine fund here.

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