More than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine.
On February 24, Russia began an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Two weeks later, more than 1.5 million people are fleeing the country and cities are reporting scarcity of food, water, and medicines. Shelling of Ukrainian cities continues and civilian casualties are increasing amidst talks of a ceasefire to evacuate locals with humanitarian corridors. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has rallied troops and the country is fighting back.
The U.S., the UK, and Europe, along with the UN, have condemned the violence ignited by Russian president Vladimir Putin. In fact, Canada, the EU, New Zealand, Japan, the U.S., and the UK are slapping sanctions on Russia to cripple its economy. More and more countries are banning Russian flights, targeting Russia’s banks and locking them out of SWIFT, and stopping exports. The EU is determined to freeze the assets of Putin and Russian oligarchs, and companies like Apple and Netflix are suspending businesses in Russia.
As individuals, it feels helpless to read about this devastation and loss of lives on websites and news media. But there is something we can do from the sidelines—donate, protest, and support.
Before you donate to any charity, make sure you read about their relief efforts and vet them. It’s always a safe bet to go with familiar organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, UN Refugee Agency, Save the Children, and World Central Kitchen.
American non-profit Sunflower of Peace is raising funds to send first aid backpacks to doctors and paramedics in Ukraine. United Help Ukraine, another American non-profit, is sending first aid kits to the country. Nova Ukraine is also assembling packages to send to an orphanage in Donetsk. Direct Relief and CARE are also providing supplies to Ukraine.
The International Rescue Committee is helping refugees of war. Fundacja Ocalenie in Poland is offering support to African and Indian students who are being discriminated against while fleeing the war-torn areas. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights is lending support to women and the LGBTQIA community. Since minorities are often marginalized in times of crisis and Ukraine’s neighbors Poland and Hungary have anti-gay laws, the LGBTQIA community will potentially face discrimination and ostracization. You can also support this community by directing your funds to OutRight International, an organization that defends the human rights of the LGBTQIA community.
ChildFund International Deutschland in Germany is providing emergency aid to kids and their families. You can also donate to Ukraine-based Voices of Children which provides psychological aid to children who have experienced war and the foundation is currently assisting in evacuations.
A simple and fast way to help a Ukrainian in real-time is to book an Airbnb in the city. People around the world are booking with check-in dates as soon as possible. They have no intention of traveling to Ukraine, but this way, the host gets paid quickly. You can even order something on Etsy from a Ukrainian business owner and leave a message that they don’t need to ship the product. Beware of fake accounts that are popping up though.
Another casualty of this war are the animals who are trapped in zoos. Zoo staff are hunkering down with their charges in zoos and dealing with constant shellings and noises that terrify animals. If you want to help zoos that are also running low on food supplies, donate to this link set up by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. PETA Germany also has staff in Ukraine helping people evacuate with their animals; and the International Fund for Animal Welfare is providing aid to animal shelters.
Thousands of people have been arrested in Russia for participating in anti-war protests. On Sunday alone, 4,300 demonstrators were detained across Russia. Since the invasion began, cities all over the world have united against Russia’s war on Ukraine. France, Belgium, the UK, the U.S., Mexico, Japan, Germany, Spain, Australia, Estonia, and Hungary have seen activists come together to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. In fact, the Ukrainian city of Kherson, which is now under Russia’s control, also organized a march of freedom as Russian troops tried to disperse crowds.
If you’re in a city that’s hosting protests, join in and show support for Ukraine and its freedom.
There are journalists in Ukraine who are risking their lives to bring timely and honest updates about what’s happening on ground. Follow them to know the grim realities and ward off misinformation and fake news. Some of them are Sarah Rainsford (@sarahrainsford on Twitter), Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk on Twitter), Nolan Peterson (@nolanpeterson on Twitter), and Olga Rudenko (@olya_rudenko on Twitter).