The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is mobilizing teams and boosting capacity in Ukraine and neighboring countries to respond to the growing humanitarian needs of Ukrainians forced to flee the country, those internally displaced and stranded third-country nationals.
According to initial figures from IOM teams in neighboring countries, at least 600,000 people fled Ukraine in the first five days following the start of military operations and the escalation in hostilities.
The Organization’s number one priority is the safety and protection of all those fleeing the country – including third-country nationals – and their ability to access assistance. It will also be crucial to screen for and assess potential short-term and longer-term vulnerabilities, including for human trafficking, child protection, health and mental health, and the arrival of more vulnerable people with special needs, including elderly, wounded, or sick people.
Based on IOM estimates, there are over 470,000 third-country nationals – many stranded – from various nationalities within Ukraine including a large number of overseas students and labor migrants. At least 6,000 have arrived in Moldova and Slovakia alone.
Several States have already requested IOM’s assistance to help with the return of their nationals to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. More than 50 Tunisian nationals who crossed into Moldova are being assisted by IOM to relocate to Romania before they return home through a charter flight, in coordination with relevant authorities.
IOM welcomes the decision by several countries to take steps to support the Ukrainian diaspora through visa extensions and appeals to States to grant protection and access to the territory to all those who seek to leave the country, without discrimination. IOM also welcomes the European Union (EU) discussions on granting Temporary Protection under the 2001 Directive to provide adequate protection and assistance to all those in need.
The Organization has a large operational footprint and capacity across Ukraine and neighboring countries and is expanding its assistance to support governments in light of the increasing number of people fleeing the country and rising humanitarian needs. In Luhansk, Ukraine, IOM provided much-needed core relief items on Sunday to civil society, and local government institutions to ensure continuity in aid delivery.
IOM in Poland is at the border to monitor and assess reception conditions and the most urgent needs of those arriving from Ukraine, specifically non-food items, mental health, protection, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and information provision. IOM is also working with various embassies to support the transportation of their nationals from the border to Warsaw and facilitate their return home and has set up an information and support hotline for persons fleeing Ukraine.
IOM is supporting Romania’s national emergency response effort by providing information to arriving Ukrainians and third-country nationals through a purpose-built portal, in coordination with the Romanian government and “Code for Romania”. IOM is also assisting the government’s Emergency Response Unit to match pledges for food, non-food items, and services from civil society and the general public with needs identified at border points and in reception shelters.