On the 19th of May AFEW International participated in the Human Rights Film Festival, hosted by the Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) in The Hague (Netherlands). This event became an opportunity for filmmakers and attendees to shed light on human rights issues across the globe, through the language of moving pictures.
In the framework of the festival, organizers have also paid attention to the theme of the war in Ukraine. The escalating war actions in the country are causing tremendous humanitarian crises affecting millions of Ukrainian people. They are in urgent need of warm shelter, food, water, basic medicine, and other essential supplies.
To talk about these developments, GHRD invited Yulia Komo, Director of Programms and Public Affairs of AFEW International and Vera Varyga, Ukrainian refugee, a woman living with HIV, Board Member of “Positive Women” in Ukraine. Vera told her story of moving to the Netherlands with her youngest son, and Yulia informed guests about AFEW International’s work to help Ukrainians in Ukraine and in the Netherlands.
Notably, Ukraine has the second largest population of people living with HIV, people with tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis and opioid dependency in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the country has developed successful and progressive harm reduction and treatment programs, supported by the global community.
The vulnerable groups that AFEW International and its partner organizations work with in Ukraine are now in an extremely difficult situation. Everything that has been done in the region for decades in HIV and harm reduction can now be undone. Health systems collapse and treatment and prevention services are interrupted.
From the first days of the war, AFEW immediately mobilized all our resources to aid to Ukrainians who suffered. We have aligned with our network in Ukraine and started gathering their requests, we talked to our international partners and donors and found ways to reallocate some of the funding for emergency aid. We have co-signed and co-created several statements for the decision-makers to draw attention to the needs of the most at-risk groups.
- We have started a collaboration with Dutch organizations to make sure that our partners in Ukraine receive aid. With the help of our partners in the Netherlands Dokters van de wereld, some money which was gathered by De Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties (SHO), also known as Giro 555, was transferred to our partner in Ukraine – AFEW-Ukraine to get medicines and provide vulnerable communities for HIC: prisoners, PWUD, Sex Workers, LGBTQI.
- In the framework of a project “Humanitarian aid to local Civil Society Organizations in Ukraine “SOS-Ukraine”, implemented by the MBF AFEW-Ukraine and International Humanitarian Organization People in Need, with technical support of AFEW International, Ukrainian organizations have got an emergency financial support. With this help they were able to get food, water, medicine and other essential supplies.
- AFEW International was involved in collecting information on the required medicines for the SAZ (the collaboration of 29 Dutch regional hospitals). Immediately after the war these hospitals joined forces and started collecting medicines and medical devices to send to Ukraine. At the end of March, the first truckload of medical supplies and baby food was delivered to Lviv. From there, the aid was redistributed according to lists to Ukrainian hospitals/ organisations. AFEW International’s partners in Kharkiv also received the necessary medicines.
- Together with another Dutch organization – the Vattenfall Nederland Foundation – AFEW International has got more humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Trucks from the Netherlands delivered clothes and products to the western border of Ukraine, and after the goods were be transferred to Ukrainian cities and villages.