Keystone Human Services remains committed to our work in Eastern Europe supporting people with disability and building a more inclusive world. We strongly condemn the aggression against Ukraine and stand in full support of the Ukrainian people.

When the bombs first exploded in Ukraine, many of our employees in the Republic of Moldova could hear them. As Ukrainians began fleeing their country, the Government of Moldova opened its arms in welcome, and Keystone Moldova’s relief efforts began, focusing on including people with disability.

There are at least 2.7 million people with disability in Ukraine. During crises, people with disability are at great risk of abandonment, violence, and death. They are often cut off from information, resources, and their community. Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities speaks to countries’ responsibility to ensure the protection and safety of people with disability during armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies, and natural disasters, among other crises.

So far, Keystone Moldova, a trusted NGO based in Chisinau, has supported the delivery of 700 meals for Ukrainian refugees in Palanca, a village in Moldova near the Ukrainian border. Keystone Moldova recently began a 1.3 million euro project, funded by the European Commission, focused on social canteens to address food insecurity and nutrition vulnerabilities across the country.

Keystone Moldova also operates a national hotline support service for people with disability in need of protection, support, and information. Available to Ukrainian refugees with disabilities, their families, and caregivers once they’re in Moldova, the toll-free hotline provides access to resources and counseling, as well as a way to report and address rights violations. The service is available by calling 0 8001 0808.

Keystone Moldova is also recruiting volunteers to support refugees in Palanca and Tudora, another village near the Ukrainian border where Keystone Moldova operates the Unitate Community Center for children and families. The Unitate Community Center serves children and youth, offering comprehensive services, including education, vocational support, nutrition, and hygiene, as well as psychological and social assistance.

Making sure that people with disability don’t get left behind is foundational to our mission. “This is who we are,” said Charles Hooker, President and CEO of Keystone Human Services. “Throughout our 50-year history, we have continually stepped up to ensure people with disability can take their rightful place in the community, whether it’s supporting people to move out of institutions, advocating alongside people with disability and their families, or making sure people with disability are included in disaster relief efforts.”

We will update this story as more information becomes available.