"IT'S overwhelming, the scale of it over here," Steve Gordon says on the phone from Ukraine.

The humanitarian aid worker has been in the war-torn country for more than two weeks now. He’s currently in Uman, south of Kyiv and north of Odesa. He said the city is like a crossroads, with everyone travelling from the Ukraine capital or towns near it having to cross through it to flee the war.

Gordon is leading Mercy Corps's response in Ukraine. The global humanitarian aid charity, which has its European headquarters in Edinburgh, helps to support local agencies by providing transport, meals and whatever else they may need to get those most at risk through the crisis.

The National:

As Russia's invasion has stalled, Vladimir Putin has upped the attacks on the country, with numerous civilian casualties incurring from the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including on a hospital and later an art school sheltering hundreds.

READ MORE: 'Lviv is my home': Scottish veteran airlifted from Ukraine desperate for UK to open its doors

But as scary as it may be to be at the epicentre of a major European war, the former photojournalist admits that he finds it easier to be there knowing he can help in a way he can’t at home in Glasgow.

He told The National: “When you come across the border, you're just aware of the scale. When I crossed I think it was like 25 kilometres of cars backed up trying to cross into Poland. And you've got huge numbers of people being bused as well. And it’s all women and children.

“Everywhere you look you see people moving. It’s just constant. It never stops. And you're just constantly aware of cars you're passing, or people who are driving to the border, and it's a constant stream.

“They have signs that say 'children' in the window. Every second car you see has that sign on it.

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Mercy Corps has been working day and night to deliver aid to Ukraine

“And when you see people coming off the trains they’ll have a small rucksack. That’s their entire lives. They’ve said goodbye to everything.”

Gordon warned that conflicts such as these don’t just stop, and as fears over chemical weapons mount, he is preparing for the war to get worse.

He said: “I've worked multiple major conflicts, and you wish you were never surprised. When I worked in Syria and Yemen I used to think that things had descended so badly, and it couldn't get any worse. And then it just dropped down again, and then dropped down again. This isn’t going away.

“The first days people were just numb, you know, they were in shock. They didn't believe it was happening. Even as it was happening, people didn't believe it was happening, because it was just too horrific to take into their minds.”

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Fleeing civilians in the port city of Mariupol described relentless bombardments and bodies lying in the streets.

Gordon said now people are starting to function the best of humanity is also being able to shine, with one restaurant giving its food out for free, only asking for people to pay if they can afford it.

“It’s the only daylight you’re going to get these days,” he said.

Asked about chemical weapons, as an aid worker who was in Syria when they were used in the country, Gordon said Ukrainians are “very nervous”.

READ MORE: Ukrainian orphans heading to Scotland stuck in Poland as flight to London delayed over paperwork

He said: “If you look at it from a Ukrainian perspective, you had Chernobyl in the country here in the north. And that is in the back of a lot of people's minds and it's something they think about a lot.

“I think, if you were involved in the Syrian conflict, you realise that everything is on the table - there are no rules. And it's an incredibly terrifying concept. Unfortunately, it becomes another thing that we have to prepare for.”

The National: CHOP, UKRAINE - MARCH 16: People fleeing Ukraine board a humanitarian train organised by the Slovak Rail Company (ZSSK) to bring refugees from Ukraine to Kosice, Slovakia on March 16, 2022 in Chop, Ukraine. The humanitarian train departs Slovakia twice a

Millions are fleeing Ukraine to escape the Russian invasion

Although more than 3 million people have already fled Ukraine, the number could rise still as an end to the war is not yet in sight.

“The number of people who have fleed is massive,” he explains. “But we are only talking about the fringes of the north, east and south of the country. As this slowly spreads then we're going to see larger and larger numbers, we're going to see more besieged communities, we're gonna see more attacks on civilians. I think that's first the harsh reality that we cannot escape.”

For those who would like to donate to help Mercy Corps's humanitarian aid work in Ukraine, they can visit: https://europe.mercycorps.org/en-gb/donate/crisis-ukraine-give-now-0