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In Eastern Europe, support for Ukrainians wanes over time

In Eastern Europe, support for Ukrainians is waning over time< /p> UPDATE DAY

This week on Facebook, Ruslana Hrytskiv asked for a donation of shoes for young twins, refugees from Ukraine in the Czech Republic, but her post only sparked a debate on the hygienic contraindications to wearing second-hand shoes.  

She argued that the mother of these children had no money to buy them clothes but her explanations did not convince anyone. 

“Reactions to requests are slower. At the start of the conflict, people were incredibly responsive,” explains Ms. Hrytskiv, a Ukrainian who has lived in the Czech Republic for more than twenty years. 

Since the February 24 Russian invasion, Ruslana has assisted “dozens, perhaps hundreds” of refugees, including the mother of the twins, who gave birth to a third child while fleeing to Prague.  

Ms. Hrystkiv's findings converge with those of many humanitarian organizations in Eastern Europe. The countries of this region host hundreds of thousands of refugees from the conflict, mainly women with children. 

Like the rest of Europe, the area is hit by inflation, notably due to the Russian invasion, which forced households to restrict their spending. 

“The propensity to help has decreased since the start of the war,” observes Eszter Bakondi Kiss, a volunteer with the Hungarian NGO Habitat for Humanity, which coordinated a refugee accommodation program.

“We were receiving a lot more proposals for accommodation at the start of the war,” she told AFP.

As for the Slovak NGO People In Need, donations are falling. They went from 650,000 euros in February and March to 85,000 for the month of May, announced its spokesperson Simona Stiskalova.

“It's a natural effect. A cause at the heart of the news generates a lot of commitment. Then the interest crumbles,” explains Svilena Georgiev, head of the Bulgarian foundation Za Dobroto.

“However, 90% of the donations we receive are still intended for campaigns in support of Ukraine. “, she says. 

Economic difficulties

“Poverty threatens a growing share of the country's population,” explains Prague sociologist Daniel Prokop.

“In this context, there are fears that support for Ukraine will supplants aid to local populations,” he explained to AFP.

Klara Splichalova, who heads the Donors Forum in Prague, nevertheless assures that despite a drop noted compared at the start of the war, the donations remained substantial. 

“People know that the resolution of the conflict is not on the horizon, and that donations will have to be made regularly, and for the long term,” she continues. 

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< p>Lavinia Varodi, who works for the Romanian branch of the NGO Save the Children, says companies and individuals “have exhausted their budgets”. 

“Only big organizations continue to give because they have the means to allocate specific funds to the Ukrainian cause,” she says.

Agnès Baranyai, a volunteer at a Budapest youth hostel where refugees are housed, regrets that support is dwindling with summer vacation. 

“Everyone wants a return to normal life,” she comments.

New needs

“Support is still needed, but needs are changing,” says Dominika Pszczolkowska, a migration researcher at the University of Warsaw. 

“Ukrainians are trying to integrate into the labor market. They do not seek to benefit from the allowances, which the Poles appreciate, ”she develops with AFP. 

Of the 4.5 million Ukrainians who fled their country via Poland, some 300,000 have officially found employment there, even if it is often below their qualifications.

“Ukrainians make up for the lack of manpower in certain sectors”, said the Polish Minister for the Family on Friday. 

In the neighboring Czech Republic, where some 400,000 refugees live, 77,000 have found a employment.

Among them is a mother of two from Odessa, who stayed with Ruslana at the start of the conflict in February. She now works in a bakery. 

“Companies don't provide them with stable contracts, which is a problem. But it does at least provide them with work, says Ruslana Hrytskiv, who is now hosting another refugee. 

“I am always ready to jump in my car to help. I perceive the gratitude of those I help, and that is the greatest reward,” she insists.

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