Air raid sirens played in Kyiv every 15 minutes, humanitarian worker says

The Disasters Emergency Committee has launched a fundraiser to help people in the country get aid.

03 March 2022

A senior member of the Ukrainian Red Cross Society has described how the nation’s capital city is facing such heavy shelling air raid sirens are being played every 15 minutes.

Olena Stokoz, deputy director general of the humanitarian charity, outlined the current situation in Kyiv while hiding in her house.

Speaking at a press conference over Zoom held by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), Ms Stokoz said: “Very heavy shelling is taking place every second… three kilometres from me. A couple of minutes ago we had a missile hitting civil houses, which is why I’m a bit scared. The situation is very dangerous here and in all parts of Ukraine.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
From left, Bethan Lewis, head of disaster risk management, Plan International UK, Saleh Saeed, DEC chief executive and Andrew Morley, president and chief executive of World Vision International, at the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launch (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“The most difficult areas, the hottest spots, in Ukraine are in the east, the north, the south and of course in Kyiv. We have missile attacks on civilians everywhere and many people have to stay in underprepared shelters almost 24 hours a day as we have air raid sirens every 15 minutes.

“People have to stay there without electricity, food, water, medicine, war clothes and other facilities. Other groups of people are trying to leave their homes and migrate either to safer places inside Ukraine or outside Ukraine.”

She spoke about the situation in the city as the DEC announced a new joint fundraising appeal to help people fleeing the conflict after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion a week ago.

The fundraising appeal brings together 15 UK aid charities to help raise funds, which will be distributed to charities responding on the ground in Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, giving people food, water and shelter.

A target has not been outlined by the charity, as chief executive of DEC Saleh Saeed said it was “absolutely grateful for every single pound” donated, adding: “The more money we raise, the more people that we can reach.”

Every pound donated by the UK public will be matched by the Government through its Aid Match scheme, up to the value of £20 million.

Poland Russia Ukraine War
People arrive at a border crossing in Medyka, Poland (Visar Kryeziu/AP/PA)

According to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) more than one million people have left Ukraine and sought refuge in neighbouring European Countries.

“Many of us would never have envisaged launching a humanitarian appeal in the heart of Europe in 2022,” Mr Saeed said.

“Tragically, that’s exactly where we find ourselves today. The last time the DEC launched an appeal in Europe was over 20 years ago for Kosovo. That time we thought, ‘never again’. Sadly, we were wrong.

“Most of the people fleeing are women and children, forced to abandon their homes and loved ones, to find sanctuary in neighbouring countries. There are reports of long queues on the border of up to 60 hours in freezing conditions.

“The unfolding crisis is horrific and heartbreaking. But there’s something that we can all do to bring hope. Please donate and help us raise funds and support hundreds of thousands of people who are already fleeing.”

He added that the best way for people to help is to donate to the DEC and other similar fundraising efforts as there is “plenty of aid in the region” but funds are needed to buy it.

Russia Ukraine War
A woman cries outside houses damaged by a Russian airstrike, according to locals, in Gorenka (Vadim Ghirda/AP/PA)

Andrew Morley, president and chief executive of humanitarian organisation World Vision International, visited the border crossings in Romania and Moldova earlier this week.

He said: “Thousands of refugees are streaming in and they’re taking up to three days to get across the border. In Ukraine, all the children I saw crossing the border were in tears. When I looked into their eyes I saw fear too. They were lost, they were scared and when I close my eyes now, their tears are still there.

“To make matters much worse, the sound of conflict can still be heard across the border. This is a constant reminder of the horrors they’re fleeing.”

To donate towards the DEC’s appeal, visit: www.dec.org.uk

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