Photo credit: IOM
By Ashley Mungai, MAGG student
It has been nearly a month since the war broke out and the Ukrainian crisis began.
Unfortunately, the reality on the ground keeps getting worse and worse. Our situation reports suggest that at least 12 million people are in need within Ukraine, and as of 16 March, over 3 million people have left Ukraine and crossed into neighbouring countries. Between 24 February and 15 March, the OHCHR recorded 1,900 civilian critical injuries, including 726 people killed, but everyone thinks these figures are likely much much higher.
Though what continues to shock me the most is the incredible resilience of the Ukrainian people and our team on the ground that has set up mobile offices and warehouses to collect and distribute supplies.
However, the increasing and overwhelming need in Ukraine and within neighbouring countries has translated to an anxious, intense and hectic work environment for all. There is always a never-ending stream of needs and interests, and unfortunately, all are urgent as we all work towards giving as much humanitarian support as possible.
Working virtually has not exempted me from this pressure. Being part of the Diaspora Crisis Response team means that workdays are more sporadic and unpredictable as everyone works across different time zones. I often find myself responding to emails at midnight or one a.m. to ensure that the team waking up is able to complete an urgent task or be able to onboard a new platform while I sleep. Similarly, I often wake up to tasks from my new supervisor handing over as he clocks out due to the time difference. It sometimes feels like a relay, but one with an overwhelming sense of solidarity and responsibility as every email, task, or letter could and is affecting lives.
One of my greatest points of pride this past week was being part of creating a crisis response page for the public and establishing an online registration system for those interested (both Ukrainian Diaspora and any willing international) in seeing how they can support (through employment, volunteering, remote work, short term assignments, etc.) IOM and other organisations engaged in the response.
I continue to be extremely grateful for this placement and to be able to serve and support the humanitarian efforts even in a small way and from so far. Words cannot express how much I am also learning about soft skills and crisis management.
Cheeky plug, but if you are interested, registration is on iDiaspora here: https://www.idiaspora.org/en/current-emergency/ukraine or you can reach out to me for any information both on my placement and how you can support IOM Ukraine’s efforts in Ukraine.
See you soon for my next and final blog from the virtual field. Stay safe!