By TOBY PORTER
Volunteers from a Muslim charity are distributing food and supplies to Ukrainian refugees who have fled to Poland.
Teams from Al-Khair Foundation (AKF), based in Croydon, have been visiting border crossing points to provide emergency aid and organise long-term help for families devastated by the Russian invasion.
AKF, whose headquarters is in Pitlake, West Croydon, is a specialist at delivering humanitarian help to conflict areas and disaster zones so has also used that expertise to support other charities reinforcing supply lines.
They are hoping to help more than 2,000 refugees in the first phase of their work alone.
AKF founder and chairman Imam Qasim Rashid Ahmad said: “It is terrifying to see the amount of people arriving at the camps but to see so many people come together to help gives me hope for humanity.
“The refugees are dependent on us for food, water, clothing and blankets so we will do all we can to ease their suffering. We have seen families ripped apart at the border as the men have returned to fight for their country, leaving their wives and children behind.
“It’s such a devastating situation for everyone here. We hope and pray that the current situation is stabilized and the affected families are united with their loved ones and can return to their country.”
AKF volunteers and staff are on the ground in the Polish village of Medyka where they are working with the charity Muslim Hands and local mosques to help families.
They have also distributed supplies in Polish cities of Krakow, Warsaw and Przemysl.
The volunteers have been working non-stop in freezing conditions, taking supplies on foot to beat eight-hour vehicle queues and reach families in dire need of food, water, shelter and friendship.
Kristina, 45 from Kryvyi Rih and were heading for Germany as a refugee with Svetlana, 22, said: “Going to Germany means that we would lose our house so we already know that we have nothing to return to. After the war we will have to start all over again.”
Al-Khair Foundation, established in 2003, provides emergency relief and developmental support in some of the world’s most impoverished areas – Palestine, Afghanistan, India and Gaza.
It has delivered aid to more than 50 million people in 74 countries with a range of projects from emergency support to building hospitals and re-establishing communities.
It also handed out meals to lorry drivers trapped at Dover over Christmas and Boxing Day in 2020.
Its seven UK branches have raised more than £200million over the last 10 years, for its work in unemployment, education, women’s empowerment and domestic violence.
It has also provided help through floods and storm damage in recent years in the UK.
Pictured: Volunteers from Al-Khair Foundation charity distribute food and supplies to Ukrainian refugees