Australians urged to help Ukraine crisis as winter approaches

Fourteen million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes since Russia’s large-scale invasion of the region, the latest figures released by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, have revealed.

The grim figure – including internally displaced Ukrainians and those who fled the country – equals the combined populations of NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

While around 5.5 million people have returned home, the situation remains dire for many, according to the latest UNHCR update.

The Ukrainian landscape will be further complicated by the arrival of autumn, with colder weather which will limit travel and put additional pressure on Europe’s already strained energy systems.

More than 800,000 Ukrainians – including 300,000 children – are currently sleeping in
buildings destroyed or ravaged by war, in tents, in the streets or on the floors of friends
houses.

Australians have been strong supporters of Ukraine since the invasion began in February, donating generously to humanitarian causes in the weeks immediately following.

However, as the war fades from the news pages, support has waned, says Stefan Romaniw, president of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations.

Mr Romaniw says it is important for the world to recognize the continuing humanitarian impact of the war.

He called on wealthy, democratic countries like Australia to provide extra help for the millions of men, women and children facing a harsh winter.

“Australians have always dug deep to help others in need and that showed itself six months ago,” he said.

“But the war has disappeared from our newspapers and our screens, which means that a lot of support has dried up.”

Mr Romaniw said that while media interest has faded, the humanitarian disaster continues to deepen.

“Russia continues to target civilians and infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and power plants.
plants,” he said.

“Millions of women and children face a miserable winter, which cannot be
mitigated by continued support from the outside world.

While Australians may feel hopelessly removed from the conflict, there were many things they
could do to help, he said.

“Support for Ukrainians can be financial, which will help in the creation of shelters for
the homeless and the medical supplies they urgently need, but there are other ways to make a
significant difference.

“They can boycott Russian products or pressure politicians to make sure those fleeing Ukraine
can integrate into Australian society; the main thing is to get people talking about Ukraine
again,” Mr. Romaniw said.

The full mobilization of Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 means that most of these
arriving in Australia are women and children, who need medical assistance, employment
opportunities and access to education and interpreters. In total, more than 4,000
Ukrainians have been arriving on special visas in Australia since February.

Help Ukraine now: donate to the Crisis call in Ukraine (tax deductible and run-in
partnership with Rotary Australia) and save lives.

Christi C. Elwood