The RIVER-EU project calls for ensuring equitable access to vaccines for people displaced by the conflict in Ukraine

Statement about conflict in Ukraine

The RIVER-EU consortium expresses its collective solidarity with the international community in upholding the rule of law and condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We particularly wish to express our support for all medical and public health organisations and professionals and civil society actors within Ukraine and along border regions. We call on the international community to provide all possible assistance to those who are tirelessly providing live-saving services to those in need.

Over two million people have fled Ukraine already. Whenever large groups of people are on the move, it is time to strengthen health systems and vaccine protection – both in the host country as well as among those who may have lost touch with their support system back home. Ensuring equitable access to vaccines, including COVID vaccines, routine childhood vaccines and life-course vaccination to displaced persons must be a key public health priority.

The RIVER-EU project includes a research focus on the Ukrainian economic migrant community living in Poland. This community has been profoundly affected by the conflict, and has been joined by a growing Ukrainian refugee community. As Prof. Maria Gańczak, from project partner University of Zielona Gora, has stated:

Being involved in the RIVER-EU project, I have had the unique opportunity to meet and speak to more than seventy Ukrainian migrants living in Poland…How are they now? And where are they? Devastated, tattered, their brothers, sisters, parents, and many other family members killed, their cities ruined. Hundreds of thousands of newly-arrived refugees, including many women and children, are arriving to Poland as a main port of entry. These people are fleeing from the atrocities of war. We are all Ukrainians now. Their health should be our priority.”

Many Ukrainian refugees have also begun entering eastern Slovakia, where RIVER-EU is also conducting research with the marginalized Roma community. Among thousands of those fleeing from their homes, Ukrainian Roma, mainly mothers with children, are seeking safety in Slovakia, as well. As Dr. Daniela Fiľakovská Bobáková, from project partner PJ Šafárik University, has said:

“I am grateful for all the solidarity I see around, for efforts and personal commitment at all levels starting from local people. And it is very important to show our support and kindness to all of those in need regardless of ethnicity because war makes no difference and is ruthless to everyone, maybe even more to those who were already vulnerable.”

In-country partners near the Ukrainian border are actively engaged in the local humanitarian response, and the wider RIVER-EU consortium stands prepared to offer additional assistance. We are monitoring the situation closely, working closely with our partners, and research activities may be adapted as necessary, due to the present circumstances.

We close by sending the Ukrainian people our fervent desire for a peaceful resolution, even as our concerns grow over the deterioration of the situation and the increased displacement and deaths of innocent civilians. 

Humanitarian Support

A number of charitable appeals have been set up should you wish to donate to organisations that are currently providing humanitarian support in Ukraine or to displaced Ukrainian populations:

  • Polski Czerwony Krzyż (the Polish Red Cross) is directly providing aid at reception points along the Polish-Ukrainian border.
  • Polska Akcja Humanitarna (Polish Humanitarian Action) are providing humanitarian aid, including food and other forms of support to people who have had to leave their homes. Their actions focus both on internally displaced Ukrainians within Ukraine and refugees arriving to Poland.
  • Polish Migration Forum is providing mental health support, primarily to recently-arrived refugees.
  • Stowarzyszenie Instytut Ratownictwa Medycznego (Medical Rescue Institute Association) is providing direct transports of medical equipment to Ukrainian front-line hospitals (donation details available upon request)
  • Človek v ohrození (People in Need Slovakia) is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation which aims to provide direct support to those who need it most.
  • Mareena is a civic association which envisions Slovakia as a welcoming place for all people regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, or religious background
  • The Slovak Red Cross is actively involved in all kinds of help at reception points along the Slovak-Ukrainian border.
  • • RIVER-EU project partner, the European Academy of Paediatrics, has also established a fund to help children in Ukraine. Access their statement condemning the violence in Ukraine here.

For more information, please contact us at

Reducing Inequalities in Vaccine uptake in the European Region – Engaging Underserved communities (RIVER-EU) is a 5-year (2021-2026) project funded by the Horizon 2020 Research Programme whose main goal is to collect evidence on health system determinants of high and low vaccine uptake in eight specific contexts, which will be used to identify and/or develop interventions to reduce barriers to vaccine uptake in underserved communities and increase trust in the health system.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 964353. The content of this publication represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA) or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.