ShelterBox USA president said there’s talk of her going to Poland to help
Local resident Kerri Murray is waiting to hear when she will be going to Poland to help with humanitarian efforts for Ukraine.
Ms. Murray is president of Santa Barbara-based ShelterBox USA, which offers critical household supplies and temporary shelters. It’s affiliated with the international ShelterBox nonprofit, which already has a team in Poland.
“There’s talk of me deploying initially to Poland. I don’t have a date,” Ms. Murray told the News-Press Thursday. She added that it’s possible other ShelterBox USA officials would go as well.
“Our Norwegian and English counterparts, based in Europe, had to deploy immediately,” Ms. Murray said.
She said ShelterBox and other humanitarian organizations are coordinating their efforts with the United Nations.
Citing United Nations figures, Ms. Murray said 6.75 million Ukranians could be displaced within their country and another four million may become refugees in neighboring countries. “Most are going into Poland.”
Ukraine has a population of 44 million. The U.N. statistics place the internally displaced/refugee number at more than 25% of the population.
“We are looking into who’s the most vulnerable and where people are fleeing,” Ms. Murray said.
She said ShelterBox is looking at Ukranians’ immediate needs such as blankets to survive the winter cold. She listed other supplies as sleeping mats, ground mats, solar-powered lanterns, water purification devices, diapers, baby formula, kitchen sets, etc.
“The numbers are increasing every day,” Ms. Murray said. “Many are fleeing with very little. People are forced to flee with little more than their clothes.”
“We anticipate this is going to get worse,” she said. “This could be not just weeks. It could be months.”
“For now, there are a lot of reports of people going into Poland, staying with friends, families, hotels,” Ms. Murray said. “They will quickly become overwhelmed. You’ll see more evacuation centers.
“You also have to remember we’re in the middle of a pandemic with COVID,” she said. “There’s a lot of potential issues here too.”
Ms. Murray said ShelterBox has its temporary, humanitarian tents in Europe and is ready to place them where they’re needed.
But she added the Ukranians will need a long-term housing solution.
“It’s heart-wrenching what we’re seeing in every news story about Ukraine,” Ms. Murray said.
In addition to Ukraine, ShelterBox has provided aid in nations such as Syria, Yemen and the Philippines.
To donate to ShelterBox, go to www.shelterboxusa.org.