Welcome to issue 5 of the Call to Comms!

February 24, 2023 marks exactly 1 year since Russia invaded Ukraine. When TSF set off a few days later, few could have imagined the scale of what this war would mean for not just the displaced Ukrainians, but the world as a whole.

How can we provide essential information and connectivity to Ukrainians fleeing the war? Who are the people from TSF that enable this level of connectivity each day in Ukraine? And finally, we’ve stumbled upon something peculiar: there are 2.8 million Ukrainians in Russia today. How come?

💬 In this week's issue:

One year on: helping Ukrainian people

One year ago today, Télécoms Sans Frontières was in Poland, where many Ukrainians fled when the war began. The chaos and urgency of the situation highlighted the need for access to reliable information for internally displaced people, mainly women with children and the elderly. How could we achieve this?

TSF staff Hanna discussing with a Ukrainian refugee waiting for aid, Poland.

People fleeing the war needed to know about where they could sleep and eat, how they could access help and what their rights were. So, we decided to meet them where they were: in day shelters in Poland, in collective centers in Ukraine, even in buses crossing countries.

In Poland, we connected screens that displayed essential information for IDPs; in Ukraine, we provided free Wi-Fi in collective centers. Many Ukrainians made long, stressful journeys in buses where they had no choice but to wait with nothing else to do; TSF connected these buses so people could look for information and find mental and emotional support with their loved ones.

So far, TSF has helped more than 33,000 people in response to the war. For testimonials from Ukrainian beneficiaries and more details on our response, you can read our dedicated article.

🗞 Latest news from TSF, our partners and the humanitarian web

Meet Dmytro and Ihor from our team in Ukraine

“I’m technical, so I don’t see problems; only solutions to find.” Ihor

Dmytro and Ihor have joined TSF in 2022, and both work in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. Dmytro is a project manager and Ihor is an ICT specialist; together, they keep collective centers connected with free Wi-Fi and provide support to other NGOs in Ukraine.

To know a little more about them, discover their portrait (2 min read).

Why are there 2.8 million of Ukrainians in Russia?

Key figures

  • 18.6 million border crossings from Ukraine to other countries in a year
  • Over 9 million people crossed from Ukraine to Poland
  • 2.8 million Ukrainian refugees in Russia
Ukrainian refugees by country CEE 2023 | Statista

If you’re like us, you were taken aback by the high number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia. It seems counterintuitive that people under attack by a country would seek refuge there - and it is. After researching this issue, we realized that, according to the UN, many Ukrainians were deported to Russia or forced to emigrate there.

It also appears Ukrainian children have been given Russian passports and put up for adoption, which violates the fundamental principles of child protection for the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) chief, Filippo Grandi. However, it’s good to keep in mind that reliable information and data are hard to access in this context, especially in Russia.

See you next week!