Photo Credit: courtesy, IsraAID
Medical personnel at one of the FRIDA mobile medical clinics in Kyiv.

The Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAID says it’s expanding its humanitarian aid footprint in the war-torn nation of Ukraine. The NGO is not affiliated with the Israeli government and is funded primarily from private donors, family foundations, and institutional donors.

Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country, which began on February 24, has resulted in countless Ukrainians suffering physical and mental health issues, a challenge that has overwhelmed Ukraine’s resources.

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There are now more than seven million Ukrainians who are internally displaced, most of them homeless, according to the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) and in desperate need of mental health support, among other pressing issues.

In response, IsraAid says it’s in the process of setting up offices in Kyiv and Odesa to focus on mental health and psychological support for those who have been internally displaced.

“We’ve started to provide training workshops for social workers, front-line workers, medical professionals and municipal employees on trauma-informed care, self-care, and preventing burnout. Our first workshop took place in Bucha, and was followed by others in Odesa,” spokesperson Shachar May told JewishPress.com in an email interview.

In Kyiv, IsraAID is partnering with FRIDA, a local Israeli-Ukrainian NGO that operates mobile medical clinics in the surrounding area.

“FRIDA is a team of Israeli and Ukrainian medical volunteers who work to support hundreds of Ukrainians affected by the war on a daily basis,” the NGO’s spokesperson said.

“They provide both emergency and primary medical care to children, the disabled, and the elderly in regions affected by the fighting. They provide medicine, diagnostics and medical evacuations. IsraAID procures and delivers essential medical equipment and medications to furnish the FRIDA mobile clinics.

“Often, in cases of conflict and strife, these essential areas of medicine fall to the side, but they’re still crucial to the health and resilience of the community,” May said. “The focus of these mobile medical clinics, as well as our focus, is on primary care, children’s health and women’s health.”

Earlier this month, IsraAID delivered $150,000 worth of medication to Kyiv for use in the mobile medical clinics, she said.

The NGO is also beginning work with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to train a core team of experts in trauma care and psychological first aid to serve hospitals in three different locations – Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia – and continue to support them through the long term, she added.

Zaporizhia is a particularly strategic flashpoint between Russian and Ukrainian forces, as it is the home of the largest nuclear reactor in Europe with six pressurized water reactors that can produce power for up to 4 million homes, even though only two of the reactions are operating at this point.

Russian forces have been using the nuclear complex as a so called “sheltered” artillery park, using the facilities to fire on Ukrainian positions in the belief that Ukraine would not fire back and risk a nuclear accident.

One week ago, Russian forces killed 21 people in shelling aimed at Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, governor Valentyn Reznychenko said in a post on Telegram.

Russian shelling aimed at Vinnytsia last month killed 28 people, including three children, with European Union officials labeling the attack a war crime.

IsraAID’s Odesa logistics hub is being set up as an extension of one in Tulcea, Romania. It serves as one of the few secure corridors for the delivery of humanitarian aid into southern Ukraine, May said.

“So far, 100 percent of the aid we have sent into Ukraine arrived at its location successfully,” the spokesperson added, noting that so far, more than $30 million in non-perishable food, hygiene supplies, medication, medical supplies (like syringes and bandages), medical equipment (like ultrasound machines and defibrillators), and other essential items has been distributed.

“The Odesa hub will allow us to streamline the process and extend our reach even further,” May explained. “The Tulcea Hub will continue receiving and processing donations, and the Odesa Hub will eventually be responsible for directly supporting the local community and distribution.”

But it’s still possible aid workers will be operating under fire. Last month Odesa came under renewed attack by Russian forces, with cruise missiles striking the port’s terminal infrastructure.

Just a day earlier, Russia signed an agreement to allow Ukrainian grain ships to exit the port and sail along safe corridors that avoid known mines in the Black Sea, finally releasing some of the huge quantities of wheat and other grain that were held up for months in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines laid by Kyiv to block amphibious assault.

After worldwide condemnation, Russia eased its attacks on the city, and since the July 22 agreement, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry says at least 17 grain ships carrying 475,000 tons of agricultural products have left the country for global destinations.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.