Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has displaced over 2 million people so far, with the vast majority finding safety in Poland, followed by Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, Romania and various European countries.
In total, the UN now estimates that 18 million Ukrainians will ultimately be affected by the Russian invasion – and the situation is so alarming that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, described it as “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”
If you are watching the devastation in Eastern Europe and feel helpless, know that there are many ways to help Ukraine and its people from all corners of the world. Here are some ways to show your support and solidarity, from donating to credible organizations to supporting Ukraine’s independent media and calling for peace online and offline.
1. Donate to credible organizations
One of the best ways to support Ukrainians right now is via cash donations to verified aid organizations and charities.
If you are keen to support refugees, check out World Central Kitchen, a reliable non-profit dedicated to providing meals to Ukrainians during crises. They’re currently helping thousands of Ukrainian families on both sides of the border, serving nutritious, freshly made emergency relief meals. Ukraine-based Vostok SOS has also been assisting evacuees across the country with humanitarian aid, psychosocial support, hotlines and medical supplies.
Another well-known charity, Voice of Children Foundation, has been working with Ukrainian children affected by war since 2015. The organization currently provides emergency psychological assistance and has been helping with the evacuation process.
Monthly donations also go a long way to support refugees in the long run. Established aid organizations like the Ukrainian Red Cross, UNICEF and UNHCR have all pledged continuous humanitarian support and reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.
In addition to supporting displaced people, you can also support projects like Sunflower of Peace, which arms doctors and frontline medical teams with emergency kits and equipment. You can also donate to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund to help several different charities and organizations working on the ground, or CARE, a crisis fund that focuses on distributing hygiene equipment, food and daily necessities to children and the elderly.
2. Ask your government to do more
Last week, 141 of the 193 member states of the UN voted to condemn Russia over the invasion, so it’s likely your government has already taken a firm political stance. A raft of economic sanctions, unprecedented in number and scope, has also come into place.
For instance, the US, UK and EU froze the assets of President Vladimir Putin and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, removed some Russian banks from the global Swift payment network, and banned select Russian imports. Japan, Canada, Switzerland have also enacted their own boycotts and sanctions.
Research what your government has committed to – and stopped short of – and ask them to do more. For example, NATO rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent Russian aircraft from bombing cities and villages. If your country is a member of NATO, consider signing an online petition, tweeting or penning a letter to your local MP or representative.
You can also raise your voice on social media by tweeting your support for humanitarian initiatives. For instance, encourage your government and businesses to support the UN’s call for US$1.7 billion to enable the organization to provide more shelter, food, water and psychosocial care for Ukrainian civilians trapped in the country and refugees abroad.
“Families with small children are hunkered down in basements and subway stations or running for their lives to the terrifying sound of explosions and wailing sirens,” said UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths. “Casualty numbers are rising fast. “
You can also vocally condemn Russia’s attacks on civilians and nuclear sites and amplify international calls for a ceasefire.
3. Help Ukrainian refugees find shelter
Countries worldwide are opening their doors to Ukrainians, but more can be done to speed up bureaucratic hurdles and skip tedious asylum procedures. For example, the European Union recently passed an emergency plan to enable Ukrainian refugees to live, work and access social benefits – like healthcare and education – for up to three years. If your country has not yet passed such a law to expedite asylum, pressure them to do so.
Another concern is building or allocating enough housing to shelter refugees. In the UK, the government is currently drawing up a program that would enable individuals to sponsor Ukrainian refugees and potentially host them in their homes. If you live in the UK, register your interest, Refugees At Home, to support this initiative.
If your country does not have such a program, encourage your representative to consider it. For example, and, in the meantime, donate to other charity programs, like Airbnb’s “Help Ukraine” plan. The company has pledged to offer free housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees with help from donations and individuals interested in opening their Airbnb properties.
4. Support Ukraine’s independent media
Many Ukrainian media outlets are struggling, and at the same time, fake news and prolific Russian propaganda run rampant. But you can help Ukraine’s reliable news industry keep operating through GoFundMe fundraisers.
For example, donate to the Kyiv Independent to bring the world trustworthy, verified information during this devastating conflict. In addition, donations can help various Ukrainian media set up back offices or relocate to a neighboring country to continue operations.
5. Take to the streets
Another way to show solidarity is by joining a #StandwithUkraine march or rally in your city. So far, hundreds of protests and rallies have taken place in major cities worldwide, from New York to Paris, London, Zurich, Rome, Vancouver, Santiago, Tokyo, Boston, Philadelphia and more.
According to the Guardian, more than 41,600 people have taken to the streets in France alone, while a major protest in Zurich drew an estimated 40,000 people. If there’s a peaceful rally in your town or city, join the event to show Ukrainians fighting in their country or displaced around the world that they are not alone, the world stands united against the Russian invasion.