Practical information for people with disabilities seeking to evacuate Ukraine during the current war – Fight for Right
Practical information specifically for people with disabilities seeking to evacuate Ukraine during the current war - Fight for Right
As the war continues, people with disabilities will continue to want to evacuate and it is essential that they are supported to do so. People with disabilities experience circumstances which do not place them on an equal footing with others in times of crisis. They are more likely to face increased and diverse challenges in evacuating to a place of safety. It is for that reason that we are compiling this document which has been informed by our members’ experiences of their evacuation efforts to date.
Getting to the Border
Getting to the border can be a long and hard journey for many. Take breaks and rest when you need to, and try to bring as little as possible without leaving yourself short of anything that is essential to you in your day to day life.
Some things to bring of particular importance to people with disabilities
- Passport or other official documents, e.g. birth certificate, identity card/passport card.
- Cash for taxis.
- Disability and medical documents and cards, e.g. evidence of approval for social security payments or other state support.
- A supply of medication for at least one week (if you have it) and also your prescription as it will make it easier to replace.
- An assistance animal, most borders are allowing these to cross with you.
- Paper with important contacts in case your mobile runs out of power.
- Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes if you will be standing and walking.
- Change of clothes, please bring warm clothes and extra socks. It is very cold at night.
- Bring as much food and water as you will need for the crossing, including a flask with hot water if you can. Prioritise non-perishable items.
- Basic hygiene products, such as sanitary products if needed.
- Change of clothes, please bring warm clothes (including scarves, gloves, hats, thermal wear). It is very cold at night.
- A power bank (if you have one) and chargers for your electronic items (e.g. mobile phone, computer/tablet).
- A flashlight and additional batteries for it.
Traveling by train
Traveling by train is the better option for people with disabilities. Trains are very busy and you often have to stand, but our members found this is the best and safest mode of transport to get out of the cities.
Some tips for traveling by train
- If possible, take the option of getting a taxi to the train station. It is expensive but the best option.
- In the railway station, go to the current operating timetable which should be on display. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for information if you are unsure.
- When you decide what train you want to take, get your ticket and go directly to the platform. Women and children have priority.
- Do your best to listen to all announcements so you are aware what platform the train will be at, and check any information which is displayed on timetable screens if there are any.
- Go to the platform as soon as you can and get on the train. Note: get on early to improve your chances of getting a seat or a suitable place.
- When boarding, if you go to the end of the train you might have a better opportunity to get a good place. Many people try to board at the railway end and there is more space in the wagons.
- There will be a lot of people but please try not to let this overwhelm you. Go to the platform as soon as you can to get away from the crowds around the ticket areas.
- It is helpful to find police and people in military uniforms and ask for help. At the moment, people with disabilities don’t have priority to enter the train ahead of time, but these people might be able to help with that.
- Try to get a taxi to bring you as close to the border as possible when the train arrives at its destination.
At or Near the Border
- You will need to be passed through the border by volunteers. Usually, their cars are marked with a red cross, or have a serial number on the glass.
- At the border, priority is given to women with children and the elderly.
- The wait at many border crossings is long and it can be cold, especially at night. Make sure you stay well wrapped up and eat enough food and drink plenty of water.
- Do not take photographs of the queue, checkpoints, or the military as you may be detained for doing this.
Specific advice for men
- If you are traveling with a man, even if he is your personal assistant, you may have issues crossing the border if you don't have documentation explaining that he is your personal assistant.
- If you are a man with a disability, you may have issues crossing the border at this time. You should have all your supporting documents with you to support your case for crossing.
- Stay informed and connected via radio, tv and the internet as much as you can, and follow the official advice for your safety.
- The Ukraine State Emergency Services (SES) has a WhatsApp helpline for critical updates. To start using the helpline, save the number +380676785917 in your contacts and text the word почати (begin) in a WhatsApp message. Link: https://turn.io/news/ukraine-state-emergency-services
- Keep your official documents safe. It is a good idea to take photos of your documents too so that you have a digital record as extra security. The replacement of lost documents will be easier if you lose your official paper copy.
- Officials are generally helpful. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Try your best to remain calm and if you can walk, do so at a normal pace. It will be clearer that you are a civilian this way. It may also be useful to put your hands in the air if you can when passing soldiers.