Two years of war in Ukraine: STELP focuses more on psychosocial support

The ongoing war is wearing down the Ukrainian population and increasing the demand for psychological support. Serkan Eren is on the ground as the war of aggression marks its second anniversary.

Saturday, February 24, marks the second anniversary of the Russian aggressor’s attack on Ukraine. War has been raging in Ukraine for two years. For two years, an entire country has been fighting back against the aggressor from Russia. The fierce battle has left its mark on the entire country and has also left its mark on the people.

According to the UN, more than 10,000 civilians have already been killed and countless others injured. Around 3.7 million Ukrainians are currently on the run within their own country, while over 6 million Ukrainians have fled abroad. “An entire country has been traumatized,” says STELP founder Serkan Eren, who was one of the first international aid workers in Ukraine at the beginning of the war and is still on the ground himself. “You can feel that the Ukrainians want to and will continue to defend their country with all their will, but the war is really sapping their strength. The persistent fear is wearing Ukrainians down from within and hollowing them out more and more,” he says.

He is particularly worried about the Ukrainian children. “The war is destroying the future prospects of entire generations,” says Serkan Eren. “The youngest children need an education, an everyday structure and, above all, they need space to play so that they can just be children,” continues Eren.

The need for psychological support is growing

The work of the Stuttgart-based aid organization in Ukraine has changed repeatedly over the last two years. In the meantime, the focus is no longer on supplying civilians with relief supplies as it was at the beginning of the war – the Stuttgart-based NGO has already brought several thousand tons to Ukraine – but on rebuilding schools, playgrounds and providing psychological support. “We are noticing that the need for psychological support is increasing and are adapting our support accordingly,” says the 39-year-old.

In order to give the children back a little bit of childhood in the midst of everyday war life, the Stuttgart-based aid organization built a playground at a container village for internally displaced persons. near Kiev in January. STELP is also helping to finance a social project for traumatized children between the ages of 6 and 13 in the Browary district of the Kiev region. In the “7 Fields” school, an educational and safe environment is created for 34 children and psychological rehabilitation is made possible. The children treated there are mainly from the Donetsk, Luhansk, Chernihiv or Kherson regions, some of whom had to live under Russian occupation themselves or lost a parent in the war. They now receive lessons and professional psychological support at the school.

“We must not forget all the civilians in the embattled areas where these children come from,” appeals Eren. “Thousands are still waiting in their dark basements to protect themselves from attacks,” Eren continues. Because the front line is still very dynamic and keeps shifting. People cannot flee and have no access to food. It is precisely these people that STELP is supporting with the help of its Ukrainian partner Zhyva Nadiya, delivering food, hygiene articles and medical products as part of aid missions even in the most dangerous regions.

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