On my return from a trip to South America in Casco Viejo; Panama; March 2022
I have barely returned from my trip to Argentina and Paraguay and already planning the next move.
The Russia's invasion on Ukraine continues to have grave humanitarian consequences in Ukraine and beyond. The United Nations estimates that as of today, over 10,000,000 have been displaced, and nearly 4,000,000 people have fled out of the country, which obviously puts lots of stress and expectations towards many humanitarian organisations bringing relief to all who need it.
Needless to say, my very own organisation is at the centre of this storm, and we are trying to do our best to deliver. Given the scale and scope of the needs, many of us are called to support the operations in Europe, even if we may be tasked with different responsibilities elsewhere. Many of my colleagues are now deployed between Moldavia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.
As it appears (to be confirmed), I may be given a chance to contribute to the response too. If all goes according to plan, I should be deployed in Poland sometime in April, and then, if/when the access opens in Ukraine itself, I may be supporting the humanitarian response in the country too. While it is still too early to confirm anything, I shall definitely keep you updated as things become clearer.
Meanwhile, I am working on compiling my reports on my visit to Paraguay and Argentina's Chaco, severely affected by droughts. My trip to the region, once again, shows the daily struggle of the indigenous people to survive… literally, fighting for access to water, food and safety. While bombs may not be falling in Chaco, people suffer silently and wonder why the world is not there listening and supporting them. The struggle is real! Let's don't forget the suffering of those, who may not be talked about in the media!
Przemysl, the town near to Ukrainian border, Poland, October 2006
I am in Asuncion of Paraguay at the moment, where I am preparing for the mission inside the country so that I am able to understand a bit better the country's systems related to being prepared to disasters (especially related to droughts, fires and flash floods).
While I try concentrating on this, my mind is distracted to what happens in Ukraine and Europe. The invasion of Russia of Ukraine is heart breaking to say the least. All wars are horrifying and as you know, I have a direct personal experience of many. It is a first time however that an actual war is happening so close to my own home. Reports indicate that bombs are falling some 30 kms away from the border of Poland. While, Poland is still relatively safe, as it seems, the situation leaves me think of how fragile peace is and how vulnerable we all are, regardless of where we live in the world. The situation also makes me think of how unfair the world is. While the invasion of Ukraine is the most horrific, people encounter similar sufferings in many other parts of the world too, and sadly we are too little aware of this, or perhaps we choose to close our eyes to wars, which seem not to affect us directly.
Embassy of the Russian Federation, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 2022
I have been for a few days in Buenos Aires now, gathering information on the severity of the humanitairan situation in the northern part of the country, following the devastating fires that have been going on for some weeks. I have been doing it by talking to the authorities and NGOs based in the capital. Now, it is time to move on and visit the actual places which are affected. Today, I am flying into the Province of Corrientes (via Resitencia in Chaco Province), and then will travel to the Province of Misiones. The visit on the ground should give me a more complete picture of the needs.
I am also preparing for the second part of the mission to Paraguay, which is also believed to be severely affected. If all goes to the plan, I shall be travelling there this coming Friday, to meet with the authorities and partners in the capital of Asuncion, but also in the areas affected by the drought and fires.
While concentrating on my South America tasks, it is impossible not to follow the news in Ukraine and the neighbouring countries. As there is abundance of news and analyses of the situation in the media, I will refrain from commenting, I will just add that on a personal level, together with some friends, we are involved in evacuating and arranging accommodation for some of the families, escaping the fighting. It is all extremely charged emotionally, as you can imagine.
I will be updating you with news, as my trip progresses. Until then stay well and safe!
Salta Province, Argentina, December 2021
I have just arrived to Buenos Aires and I am preparing for travelling up north to Argentina's Gran Chaco. As you may remember, the northern part of the country (as well as south of Paraguay) are now experiencing fires. It is estimated that up to 10% of the Corrientes Province is burnt to ground, with forests, and infrastructure being destroyed. Things are so bad that Argentina decided to ask the EU to send assistance to help in getting the situation under control. If all goes according to a plan, the French firemen will arrive within some hours, and then some essential equipment from Norway will follow.
While I will be coordinating the receipt of this aid, I will also be travelling to the affected areas of Argentina and Paraguay to assess the humanitarian impact on the affected communities in both of the countries. Gran Chaco is mostly a very poor part of the Americas, where daily life is extremely difficult to its inhabitants even without challenges such as fires. Should we learn that people cannot cope without assistance, we will recommend release some additional funds to reach the communities along with the help to the Argentinian authorities.
As the mission to Gran Chaco progresses, I will be posting the photo reports too.
Meanwhile, I am observing the political situation in Europe with the greatest concern. The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, saddens and angers me. Although I have seen it a lot in my professional career, it is still difficult to accept that politicians are able to destroy lives and livelihoods (as well as sanity) of so many people so easily. Something is seriously wrong with our systems of governance on every possible level.
I guess the situation in Ukraine has an additional effect on me, as it is directly impacting my native Poland. It is estimated that just within 4 days of the invasion, over 300,000 refugees fled from Ukraine to Poland alone (and 150,000 more to Slovakia, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova). So far, it is impressive to see how the governments and societies of these countries seem to be managing the crisis, but surely the needs are great and challenges will be mounting in weeks to come. I am actually taking a close look at how my own organisation is supporting the humanitarian efforts, and have already volunteered to be deployed either to Ukraine itself or any of the countries around, should the need for my services arise.