Written by Lea Gormsen and Sophia Stille // 24.03.2022
The last weeks have been shocking, filled with sadness, anger and disbelief. A war in Europe has unfolded and targeted innocent civilians, this is truly something we could not have imagined even in our worst nightmare. The events make us all feel numb and helpless, but at the same time encourages us to help and show our disapproval of the war. Wanting to help the millions who have been displaced because of it. There are a lot of different NGOs working internationally, as well as locally, to support refugees and the ones who could not leave Ukraine during the last weeks. Deciding which NGO to support, how to help most effectively and what each of us as an individual can do can be hard. This article gives you some overview of how you can help the people who are suffering most from this war.
What can we do from a distance?
The war seems close and at the same time far away, since most of our lives are continuing more or less as before. However, there are many small and bigger things that we can do from afar in order to help, support and raise our voices against violence and war. Financial donations might be the most obvious way to go, but even without the financial possibilities there are ways to support the people suffering from the war.
There are a lot of different ways you can help the Ukrainian refugees who arrived in your hometown. First of all you can donate to a NGO or other charity. When you donate to a NGO that is helping refugees in Ukraine, the money is usually spent on food, water, medicine, a place to sleep and other necessities for the people fleeing the country. Some of the big international organizations that are doing important work right now are: The Red Cross, Save the Children, SOS Children Villages, the UN agencies UNICEF and UNHCR, Danish Refugee Council and Care International. All of the latter organizations offer specific donation options connected to the current situation you can donate to if you want to help the people affected by the war. These are only a few of the many charities carrying out important work in the region, offering humanitarian assistance and financial support.
Apart from donating money, there is also the possibility to donate other things. At the moment many charities and NGOs have drop-off stations where you can donate essentials, such as warm clothes, blankets, towels and hygienic necessities.
Public as well as private actors are trying to contribute to reduce the suffering of the Ukrainian refugees. An example is the vacation house rental website “Airbnb”. Through their website, you can offer your own Airbnb-rental to house refugees for a couple of days or even weeks. Furthermore, you can also donate to Airbnb and then they will find housing for refugees in need. Airbnb is in contact with NGOs that are helping the refugees before, during and after their stay in an Airbnb-rental. You can read about it here! This is one of many examples, but it is a straightforward way to offer a place to stay, especially if you are already used to using Airbnb.
Simultaneously, the public has started renting Airbnb homes in Ukraine and not staying in them. In this way the Ukrainian citizens facing extreme financial hardship at the moment will receive the rent directly and without any booking fees. You are giving money directly to the people who need it and it can both help the citizens staying in Ukraine and the refugees fleeing the country. You should always make sure that this is a trustworthy contact, for example by checking for how long they have been renting out on Airbnb, as people are already trying to profit from the situation in Ukraine by renting out places that do not exist.
Lastly, you can also offer your own home for the refugees to stay in if you have a spare room or even an apartment. This, however, you will probably have to orchestrate it yourself as there are not a lot of organized ways to stay in private housing. Additionally, this also depends from country to country and it could be good to ask local NGOs or someone from your city council to find out more about how it is organized in your region. Whatever way you choose to help, it is important to keep yourself updated on your local municipality and NGOs websites’, as the regulations will change throughout the coming days and months. By changing rules and law, the needs for specific ways of support might change as well.
Peace is stronger than violence!
Another way to show that you do not approve of the war is by joining one of the countless peaceful demonstrations which are organized in many cities at the moment. It can also be reassuring to feel that many people are speaking up against violence and war and that you are not alone with the overwhelming feelings you experience at the moment. It is important that the world shows that war is not tolerated in our modern society. You can find a protest near you through this link!
As many countries in Europe are preparing to welcome refugees who are fleeing from the war, NGOs are helping those who arrive. For many day-to-day tasks and activities they need volunteers who want to help with administrative work, language classes, or simply to play with the children of the families. Many NGOs also have a hotline you can call if you are unsure how you can help most efficiently.
We hope this encourages you to help out now! We are all in this together. Below you can read more about NGOs that are still working in Ukraine or neighbouring regions.
Which NGOs are still working in Ukraine or bordering regions?
There are many local and international NGOs that continue to keep up their work in Ukraine, even in the areas where people are trapped or wounded from bomb attacks.
Organizations that are specialized in helping families, children and elderly people in Ukraine
There are many NGOs working to help and evacuate families, children and elderly people from Ukraine. Here we list a few in order to offer a small overview of which NGOs exist and what they do. But of course this list is not exhaustive and is subject to constant changes.
- Foundation HumanDoc: is a Polish NGO which has been working in Ukraine since 2015. They provide help with evacuations and humanitarian aid in attacked areas of Ukraine and are dependent on donations to carry out this work. They also offer a guide for people who are welcoming refugees from Ukraine.
- Voices of Children: the Ukrainian organization has been providing psychological and psychosocial support for kids impacted by the conflict since 2014. They offer programs and methods such as art therapy, mobile psychologists, individual help and video storytelling.
- Vostok SOS: has been active in the Ukranian regions of Luhansk and Donezsk since 2014 and was established through a civil society initiative. The NGO is responding to the escalating situation with a comprehensive humanitarian campaign and the deployment of an on-the-ground team. They help with the evacuation of people, provide humanitarian aid and psychosocial support. They also offer a hotline which is open for affected people.
- Project HOPE: is an American NGO which has deployed team members to Poland, Romania, and Moldova as part of their urgent response to the Ukrainian crisis. They provide medical assistance and supplies and are prepared to assist refugees with health screenings, mental health support and medical care.
Organizations helping refugees at the borders
Once people have made it out of Ukraine, they will need assistance and support to deal with the hardships they have gone through and to navigate in a new country where they possibly do not speak the language. There are many NGOs working in local contexts, so if you are thinking of volunteering or donating clothes you can search for local organizations in your city or region. Here, we list some organizations that support refugees closer to the Ukrainian border.
- World Central Kitchen: is currently working at the Ukrainian-Polish border providing hot meals to arriving refugees. They are active at 8 border crossings and provide food at any time of the day.
- People in Need: The czech organization is providing humanitarian aid in East and Western Ukraine, neighbouring states and in Czech Republic. Trucks and trains with food, water and hygiene items are sent to Ukraine and psychological support is provided. Additionally, the organization is active in all regions of Czech Republic to support arriving refugees.
- Refugees Welcome Poland: The NGO helps arriving refugees to find a place to stay with Polish families mostly in Warsaw. Volunteers help to coordinate the processes and assist the refugees with upcoming difficulties. The organization offers Polish language courses, cultural mentor programmes, psychological and legal assistance, as well as support in searching for a job. Donations can be made through this website.
- Siepomaga Foundation: is a large Polish humanitarian organization which is engaged in helping displaced people in Ukraine and those who already arrived in Poland. They provide medical aid packages, food and psychological assistance. They cooperate with other local organizations and together run a big humanitarian aid campaign to help civilians and victims from the war.
Other projects and initiatives
- The Kyiv Independent: is an Ukrainian independent English-language media outlet that was created after journalists left the Kyiv Post to continue to provide independent news coverage. The newspaper provides coverage about the war, as well as other topics in English.
- Dopomoha.pl: a map providing information about humanitarian and medical aid in Ukraine available in Ukrainian, Polish and English.
- UA SOS: an initiative by several NGOs to find free accommodation for refugees from Ukraine at institutions or in private homes.
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