JASLO, Poland—Russia's invasion of Ukraine is causing a humanitarian crisis not seen since 1990, one that could force as many as five million Ukrainian refugees—mostly women, children and the elderly—into neighboring European countries to the west.
Orion Engineered Carbons, with a carbon black manufacturing plant that sits just 75 miles from the Ukrainian border in southeastern Poland, is looking to restore at least some humanity to that region with a donation drive for those fleeing their attackers.
Those interested can donate at spotfund.com and donations will be accepted through March 19, according to Orion.
"One of our core values at Orion is building enduring relationships—not just with our suppliers and customers but also in our communities," Jan Pytlewski, managing director of Orion's Jaslo plant, told Rubber News. "It's important for us to be a positive part of the community. So when the conflict in Ukraine started and refugees began streaming into Poland, we immediately began thinking of ways to support the community in Jaslo."
The 37,000-person town of Jaslo is not considered a large town like Krakow to the west, which is where the initial waves of refugees have gone, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a Ukraine-based organization monitoring the crisis.
But as the war intensifies, as Pytlewski believes it will, so will the number of refugees.
See our full and ongoing coverage of impacts from the war in Ukraine.
"The challenge will likely intensify," he said. "Many Ukrainians have moved to the western part of their country to flee the conflict. If the fighting worsens in the west, those people will likely seek refuge in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova."
And in all of those countries, smaller towns like Jaslo are likely to be inundated.
"Most of the refugees have been going to the major cities, so smaller towns like Jaslo are still relatively quiet," Pytlewski said. "But soon the government and aid organizations might start directing the refugees to the smaller cities and towns to ease the burden on the larger urban areas.
"So we're planning for more refugees to arrive in Jaslo in large numbers."