The War in Ukraine: Dutch support for emergency aid

The Netherlands is helping Ukraine and its people. This includes funding aid organisations that are working to ensure people have food, drinking water, shelter and medicine, as well as psychosocial support. These organisations are working on the ground, where aid is most needed. But how exactly does this Dutch support get to where it’s needed? Ukrainian aid organisation Nehemia can help us explain.

Enlarge image Oekraïense families vluchten de grens over naar Roemenië
Image: ©Save the Children
Ukrainian families flee across the border to Romania.

Impact of the war

‘Our whole world has fallen apart,’ says Tetiana Machabeli. ‘Most people think this could never happen to them, but for us it’s a reality.’ Tetiana leads the Ukrainian aid organisation Nehemia. The Netherlands is funding the organisation in part through the United Nations and the Dutch Relief Alliance.

Usually, Nehemia helps children and young people, but since the outbreak of the war it’s been working to support refugees. ‘When the war began, Ukrainians from all over the country came to our centre in Uzhgorod. We helped many of them to get out of the country, and those efforts are ongoing.’ But mainly Nehemia’s focus is on helping displaced Ukrainians who are still inside the country.

Most people think this could never happen to them, but for us it’s a reality.

One man’s story: displaced in Ukraine

‘Everyone has their own story. And everyone who’s been forced to flee has suffered their own trauma from the war,’ says Tetiana. ‘I met a 26-year-old man from Mariupol who went with his friend to fetch water for the air raid shelter. They didn’t hear the missile until it was too late. The man I met was just able to dive for cover, but his friend wasn’t as lucky. The man had to bury his friend with his bare hands.’ Tetiana’s eyes fill with tears. ‘And what really broke his heart was when he had to phone his friend’s mother. When we first picked him up he didn’t speak for a long time. But fortunately we’ve been able to give him the support he needed.’

Everyone has their own story… their own trauma from the war.

Mental health and psychosocial support

‘The people we help are often in shock. After everything they’ve seen or been through, they need time and rest. Food and drink, some clean things, and a feeling of safety. Then, once they’re ready, Nehemia has psychologists and social workers ready to help them to pick up their lives again. To move on from the past and start looking forward. To do this we have therapists both for adults and for children.’

Read more about the importance of mental health and psychosocial support in crisis situations.

Impact of international support for Ukraine

‘Without international support we couldn’t keep going,’ says Tetiana. ‘The impact of international support is enormous. We need aid from countries like the Netherlands to provide Ukrainians with food, drinking water, medicines and psychosocial support. That’s what we’re working around the clock to provide.’

The impact of international aid is enormous.

Tetiana’s message to anyone reading this is: ‘I’m incredibly grateful for all the support we’re receiving from the international community. Because Ukraine can’t do this alone. Please don’t forget about us. And don’t allow yourself to start thinking of the war in Ukraine as “normal”. Because what’s happening here is inhuman.’

Enlarge image Humanitaire corridor uit Soemy, Oekraïne
Image: ©ICRC
Red Cross organisations ICRC and URCS help Ukrainians during the evacuation of Sumy as part of an 80-vehicle humanitarian corridor (15 March 2022)

How is the Netherlands helping?

The Netherlands is contributing in various ways so that organisations like Nehemia can provide aid where it’s most needed. This includes funding the aid and humanitarian organisations of the United Nations.

Nehemia is a partner of Dorcas (which in turn is part of the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA), a partnership made up of 14 Dutch aid organisations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Three member organisations are driving the DRA’s efforts in Ukraine: Dorcas, Cordaid and Save the Children, and the Dutch government has made €2.5 million available for this response.

Tetiana: ‘The additional aid from Dorcas has enabled us to help many more people. And to meet the needs of the most vulnerable among them.’

The work of the DRA is in keeping with the Netherlands’ plans and agreements concerning humanitarian aid and diplomacy. A key element of our approach is providing multiannual (rather than crisis-specific) support to humanitarian UN organisations (World Food Programme, refugee agency UNHCR and UNICEF), the Red Cross and the DRA. This ensures that these partners have resources they can deploy flexibly, where the need is most acute – including in Ukraine, of course.

Tetiana: ‘Thanks to support from UNHCR we were able to expand rapidly when the war broke out, allowing us to help the maximum number of people and to find enough personnel to make that possible.’

Enlarge image Vluchtelingen worden opgevangen in een sporthal in Medyka in Polen
Image: ©UNHCR/Valerio Muscella
Refugee reception centre in sports hall in Medyka, Poland