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As the war continues, so does our response. The following information is correct as of March 16, 2022. Please note that this will change as the crisis is ongoing.

What is happening in the Ukraine crisis?

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are deeply worried about people affected by the war in Ukraine. As hostilities continue, ensuring people’s access to healthcare and medicines is critical.

As the war escalates and people flee, our teams are stepping up our response to this deepening humanitarian crisis, both in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries.

Overview of MSF"s activities in Ukraine. May, 2022.

What is MSF doing?

- Our first priority is to resupply hospitals, including those running out of supplies to treat severe injuries

- Our second is to see how and where to safely engage MSF surgery and emergency medical teams in a direct response or in providing training and advice to hospitals on how to deal with mass casualty influxes and war surgery

- It is cold (-7 C or colder), so assisting those who have fled war zones (displaced people inside Ukraine and in neighbouring countries) is increasingly important

Since the outbreak of fighting across the country, MSF teams have been working around the clock to mount a response to meet urgent needs. We are engaged in a race against time to get the right medical supplies to the right places because we do not know when assistance will no longer be able to reach militarily encircled towns and cities.

How is MSF helping inside Ukraine?

In many parts of the country, we are working with medical facilities to help them be ready for what might come next. In the southern city of Odesa, we were able to donate medical supplies to hospitals preparing to accept wounded in the event of an attack. In Lviv, in western Ukraine, our teams are providing mass casualty training and helping hospitals prepare for mass influx of wounded. In Vinnytsia we are working with local hospitals to help them prepare for mass casualty events and exploring how we can provide water and sanitation support. In Bila Tsverka, 80 kilometres south of Kyiv, a hospital that specializes in surgery has been identified. An MSF team will provide a two-day training on managing a mass influx of casualties and establish what is needed in terms of supplies.

In the east of the country, MSF surgeons with experience working in war zones have, since just before the current outbreak of war, provided remote training to surgeons in key hospitals that have since been receiving many wounded. We have also provided supplies to numerous hospitals in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv, and other parts of the country.

What about long-term needs including chronic illnesses?

So far, the focus has been on surgical, trauma, emergency room and intensive care unit equipment and drugs. But a broader picture of other key medical items is starting to emerge: insulin for diabetes patients, medicines for patients with other chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension or HIV. Some of these will need to be transported with the added complexity of a cold chain. Getting supplies to where they are needed in Ukraine will be a challenge. The trains are still mostly running, and this is a good option because of the volume they can take, but we are looking at multiple ways of moving medical supplies around the country safely. We fear that it will get harder, perhaps rapidly so, to move medical supplies and medical staff to where they are needed, hence the real urgency to move fast on this now.

How many staff do you have in Ukraine?

MSF is rapidly scaling up our medical humanitarian activities. As well as the strong team of Ukrainian and international staff who were already in the country before this war broke out, we are bringing in emergency-experienced medical, logistics and support staff to ensure we are able to respond to the growing needs.

Hundreds of people wait in line to cross the border on foot into Slovakia from the city of Uzhhorod in Ukraine's Transcarpathia region, March 6, 2022.

Is MSF calling for humanitarian corridors?

Humanitarian corridors and ceasefires for civilian evacuations sound like a good solution but in fact they can be extremely dangerous. Opportunities for safe passage can be an important last-resort, but they cannot be an excuse for armed forces to treat those who choose to remain behind after a time-bound evacuation window or temporary ceasefire as legitimate targets. Civilians must be treated and protected as civilians at all times, whether they choose to leave or to stay or are unable to go. Civilians must have the right to seek safe passage at all times. Humanitarian assistance getting to people in need must not be constrained to militarily-controlled corridors or ceasefires.

How are MSF teams responding in neighbouring countries?

Poland

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, as of March 21 more than two million people have fled Ukraine to Poland. Our teams are trying to get essential staff and medical supplies into Ukraine via Poland.

MSF donated relief items to Red Cross Lublin and to a reception point in Horodlo, near the Zosin border crossing. Our teams have visited border crossings, transit centres and train stations. We intend to start providing psychological first aid, self-care and counselling trainings to volunteers.

Moldova

As of March 14, over 337,215 people have crossed into Moldova from Ukraine, many in transit. Moldova, which has a population of only 2.6 million people, hosts the largest concentration of Ukrainian refugees per capita.

MSF has sent teams to the north and southeast to assess the situation of refugees at the border crossing points and focusing on analyzing the possibility to support chronically ill patients or mental health needs. On March 12, in Palanca, MSF started providing primary healthcare consultations and psychological first-aid sessions for refugees, as well as basic need support for families fleeing from Mikolayiv and from Odesa region. MSF is hoping to start additional mental health support to the Ministry of Health, with the precise location to be determined. Teams have also visited reception facilities in the capital, Chișinău, to understand what people’s needs there are.

Hungary

We have a team assessing the situation and needs of people crossing the border, with a focus on identifying less visible needs for particularly vulnerable people or groups and looking into the possibility to conduct mobile clinics on both sides of the border.

Slovakia

Our first emergency team arrived in Slovakia at the beginning of March, and, after an initial assessment, we are now collaborating with the Ministry of Health to support in the response. We are also negotiating to be able to import medical supplies and work in Slovakia.

For the moment, the critical humanitarian and medical needs are covered by the local authorities and civil society, so our approach will be to fill the gaps as the situation becomes more overwhelming. We plan to have a mobile team monitoring regularly at the border, offering mental health support, facilitating emergency referrals and taking care of people who are the most vulnerable.

On the Ukrainian side, we are setting up a base in the border town of Uzhgorod. We will soon have staff in the city of Ivano-Frankvisk, to be in a better position to monitor and assess areas of the southwest of Ukraine in order to support health structures including by donating medical and logistic materials.

Russia

MSF works with the health authorities in Arkhangelsk and Vladimir regions to reduce the burden of drug-resistant tuberculosis and improve treatment for the disease.

MSF is currently conducting assessments in the south of Russia to see whether new medical humanitarian needs have emerged. We have also made some donations such as food, hygiene kits, essential relief items and medicines to be distributed among displaced people.

Belarus

In Belarus, MSF continues to run its regular programs. We support the national tuberculosis program and hepatitis C treatment in prisons. Since 2021, we have also assisted people on the move stranded between Belarus and European Union countries. MSF has carried out an initial assessment of the situation on the Belarus-Ukraine border and continues to be ready to assist emerging medical and humanitarian needs.

What was MSF doing in Ukraine before the current war?

The drastic change in context means we have had to take the painful decision to halt our previous activities, which included HIV care in Severodonetsk, tuberculosis care in Zhytomyr, and improving healthcare access in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, where we have been providing much-needed healthcare to communities affected by war. Although these programs have now mostly stopped, we did all we could to ensure some continuity of care for our patients.

MSF nurse with a patient at the TB facility in Korostyshiv district, Zhytomyr region, Ukraine. June, 2021.

In the Donetsk region, we've been working with local volunteers, organizations, healthcare professionals and authorities to help people travel to healthcare facilities, access prescribed medications and to raise awareness about common health challenges.

Our teams have trained and supported family doctors and community nurses to offer basic mental healthcare to their patients. In Luhansk region, we ran a project focusing on HIV.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, we have worked to show that it is possible to successfully treat patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis through a combination of a short-course of newer medications, psychological counselling and social support.

Can I donate to support MSF's work in Ukraine?

Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we haven’t needed to launch an appeal for our work in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Please consider giving to our general emergency fund.

- Learn how our fundraising model works.

Unrestricted funding to our general emergency fund gives our teams the flexibility to respond whenever and wherever the needs are greatest in more than 70 countries around the world, including for the Ukraine crisis. When emergencies arise, we are able to act immediately without waiting for official funds to be released or for fundraising appeals to launch.