The atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere near Kyiv have rallied calls for an international response for war crimes, but also serve as a stark reminder that humanitarian aid inside Ukraine must be urgently and dramatically increased, according to HelpUkraine22, a rapid humanitarian response. The initiative operates between Poland and western Ukraine.
“The images we are seeing are devastating. However, they can also be a driver for the international community and people of good will around the world to step up their efforts to help the innocent Ukrainians being impacted by this horrific war against them,” said Mr Brian Mefford, Managing Director of HelpUkraine22, said today.
“Every day, through Operation Palyanytsya, we provide direct relief and resupply in-country to vetted Ukrainian organizations who help those who are most at-risk. By working at the grass-roots level, we assist the distinct needs of each individual community and affected population segment. If we are not prioritising this way, we as the West are not doing enough to save innocent lives.
“The carnage in Bucha is the worst indication so far of what Ukrainians are suffering through, especially in areas Putin’s forces are seeking to subjugate and occupy. Hunger, lack of medical support, displacement and homelessness, strained social services for the disadvantaged and disabled, and many more impacts are reported to us each day by those on the ground.
“Regretfully, some larger international organisations are hesitating and restricting their activities in some critical areas. That is why we are working now to fill the gaps and get aid to Ukrainians now,” Mr Mefford said.
Last week alone, HelpUkraine22 distributed $160k in donations as micro-grants to various NGOs and community-based organisations in most of Ukraine’s regions. (See table.) To date, direct humanitarian support from HelpUkraine22 to Ukrainians in need has nearly reached $500,000.
Organisation type* Oblast* Purpose
Maternity hospital Kyiv Providing hygienic products, blankets, flashlights, bedding, food, and extra clothes for women and children at a maternity hospital outside of Kyiv, as they are forced to live at least half of the day in a bomb shelter.
Social services provider Luhansk Providing canned food, hygienic supplies, generators, and fuel to a besieged region in northern Luhansk for distribution to vulnerable community members, including the elderly.
Children’s disability services provider Donetsk Purchasing and delivering hygiene products, diapers, medicine and food to families that with special needs children.
Matt Kriteman, Head of Humanitarian Response, said that since commencement on February 24, the initiative has provided support to more than 45 projects, organizations and medical institutions in Ukraine, reaching more than 130,000 people.
“The pace of this conflict is rapid and changes daily according to location. Our strategy has been to increase support in areas that are Ukrainian government controlled and positioned to function as safe spaces for (IDPs) Internally Displaced Persons through micro grants,” said Mr Kriteman.
“Since grocery stores and pharmacies in certain areas of Ukraine are fortunately still operating, the majority of our project partners are able to buy necessary goods and have them rapidly shipped and distributed to where they are most needed. Thus, our focus is on speed.
“While larger shipments of aid begin to reach cities and then take time to be distributed, we are able to get the most basic humanitarian supplies for hygiene, medicine, and food immediately to the needy. This is the gap we are working to fill daily.”
“Talking with ordinary Ukrainians who have become extraordinary humanitarian providers overnight, I can definitely say that the majority of our efforts are going to increasingly at risk groups, particularly women travelling alone, women with children, the elderly and the disabled,” Mr Kriteman said.
HelpUkraine22 is a project by the Committee for Open Democracy (COD), an American not- for-profit, 501c3 organization. The team is composed of a group of over 20 American, Ukrainian, Canadian and Australian experts and volunteers, including those who have been displaced from Ukraine. All have extensive involvement in Ukraine for decades in spheres ranging from government to civil society, and business to charity.
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