Taipei, June 9 (CNA) Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Taiwan has been providing humanitarian aid to the latter to help deal with the problem of civilian casualties and displacement.
Under the “Taiwan Can Help” initiative, some US$5.8 million (NT$171 million) was disbursed in two tranches, in April and May, and the funds were given to hospitals Ukrainians caring for war wounded.
One of the main beneficiaries has been the Okhmatdyt National Specialized Children’s Hospital in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, which in peacetime provides specialist care for children with rare and genetic diseases, among other illnesses.
Since the start of the war, the hospital has been inundated with injured children, some of whom have to be laid to bed in the hallways, while its medical supplies are depleted at an alarming rate, staff told CNA.
“Now we have focused on children who have suffered from the war, caused by Russia,” hospital director-general Volodymyr Zhovnir said in a video message of thanks to Taiwan. “To treat these children, we use all our facilities, staff and equipment.”
Most of the children are victims of Russian shelling of civilian residential areas, gas stations and supermarkets, hospital staff said.
Some of the children are infants who suffered head and limb injuries in the assault on civilians by Russian forces, staff said, showing CNA reporters photos of some of the young patients.
Donations from Taiwan helped purchase a coronary computed tomography (CT) angiography machine that will be used to assess surgical and medical options for injured children, the hospital’s medical director, Serhiy Churnishuk, told the ‘AIIC.
“It’s very important equipment for us,” Churnishuk said, adding that it improves the chances of helping patients who may need brain surgery and other invasive procedures.
While the hospital has tried to treat and house as many children as possible, the reality is that it cannot save the lives of all those admitted, and some never make it to the hospital in because of the distance they have to travel in a war zone, he said.
Travel difficulties have affected not only patients, but also hospital staff, according to Churnishuk.
He said that since Russia actively launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, most personnel, including doctors, nurses and technicians, have remained in hospital because it is impossible for them to do commuting between work and home.
“Most of us…sleep here, eat here, live here,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the city of Kharkiv, just 40 kilometers from Ukraine’s border with Russia, another hospital is also struggling to save lives as it runs out of supplies, among other issues.
Some of its windows were blown out during the air raids and are now patched with pieces of wood.
The Institute for General and Emergency Surgery, as it is called, helps ease the strain on military hospitals on the front lines of the war and treats soldiers, as well as civilians, as Ukrainian forces fight to drive out the Russian army in Kharkiv, hospital vice president Yevhen Datsenko told CNA.
Wounded civilians are treated in military hospitals, and those brought to the institute are usually complicated cases, he said.
“In the first days, yes, there were a lot (of admitted patients), and after about two weeks already, well, a few a week. No mass entry,” Datsenko said through an interpreter.
The hospital is facing a supply shortage challenge due to logistical disruptions, which is why Taiwan’s donations of medical supplies such as bandages, antibiotics, ventilators and surgical equipment were more practical than a financial aid, he said.
“Even if we had the money, it would be difficult to buy (supplies),” Datsenko said, noting that medical supplies received from foreign governments, including Taiwan, were more important.
To date, some 7 million Ukrainian elderly, women and children have been displaced by war, many of them having fled to neighboring countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic , Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
According to the United Nations, about half of Ukrainian refugees are currently in Poland, including 50,000 in the city of Lublin, which has a population of 340,000.
Taiwan has sent donations of 11 million U.S. dollars and more than 200 tons of supplies to Poland, after Taipei’s representative office in Poland approached the Lublin city government with an offer of humanitarian aid, it said. told CNA Krzysztof Stanowski, director of the city’s Center for International Affairs. .
Lublin was happy to accept donations from Taiwan, which will be used to help put food on the tables of Ukrainian families and to help Ukrainian students and children, he said.
Taiwan has also donated money and supplies to some of the other European countries that have taken in Ukrainian refugees, including Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
While Taiwan’s donations may pale in comparison to those from Western countries, Taiwan’s speed in delivering the aid has been applauded by politicians in other countries, according to Taiwan’s representative in Poland Bob Chen (陳錦龍).