‘We want to be that bridge for them’
Last week, our field coordinator Renée arrived in the Polish city of Krakow. She reinforces our medical coordinator Noor, who is now in Moldova for us. Before, Renée worked for a long time as field coordinator for us on Lesvos. We are very happy to have her back in our team!
In Krakow, since March we have been providing medical care at the train station, where hundreds of people who fled from Ukraine are received. There is only one other medical post at the station, where only first aiders work. Our specialised medical care is therefore very much needed. “Fortunately, people know how to find us,” says Renée. In order to meet the high demand for care, our team in Kraków has been expanded in recent weeks. “We have gone from two to four doctors (one of whom is a Ukrainian refugee) and now also have three interpreters on staff.”
In addition to the clinic at the station, we have recently started providing medical care in the shelter of the Polish aid organisation Wolno Nam (Polish for ‘we are free’). About 150 people are now staying here. “People can stay here a bit longer than the usual 48 hours,” says Renée. “That is why the most vulnerable people, who often find it very difficult to travel, end up here. Think of people with psychological problems, physical disabilities and chronic illnesses.”
In addition to this shelter, we are also looking at other hotspots where vulnerable minorities are staying. In this way, we hope to be able to help as many people as possible who currently fall outside the care system. “Everyone who registers to stay in Poland is in principle entitled to free medical care,” says Renée. “But it takes quite a long time before the registration process is completed. People cannot always wait for this.”
Moreover, for many people the bar to register is very high. Also, not everyone from Ukraine wants to stay in Poland. “Some people want to travel on to a country where they have family living, for example, or wait until the situation in Ukraine is safe enough to travel back. These people also need medical care. We would like to be that bridge for them.”