As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine persists and violence ensues, it is clear the negative effects of this military conflict are devastating and will only continue to expand.
At this time, supporting Ukrainian civilians and refugees is vital.
Although seemingly distant, there are ways the Lehigh community can help support those impacted.
Fundraising for the Ukrainian Army
According to a press release by the U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has recently authorized more funds to be provided for military assistance in Ukraine.
“This brings the total security assistance the United States has committed to Ukraine over the past year to more than $1 billion,” Blinken said in the press release.
As the government continues to aid the war effort, individuals are encouraged to do so, too.
Associate professor of international relations Dinissa Duvanova has a number of colleagues in Ukraine, as well as distant family members. She said she made financial contributions to efforts supporting the Ukrainian army, instead of sending goods to Ukraine.
“I find it laughable to send diapers to the war zone,” Duvanova said. “You cannot protect children with diapers, you need to protect children with weapons placed in the hands of those people who protect them.”
To her, contributing money is the best way to ensure donations make it to their intended destinations.
“The diapers and the canned goods and the medical supplies (are) sitting outside the city and the Russian troops do not let them in,” Duvanova said. “There is no point of contributing towards that type of relief, in my opinion, when you can contribute to something that can help slow the advances of the Russian army.”
Donating to crisis relief organizations
Large international aid organizations are working in Ukraine and neighboring countries to provide medical care, mental health care, food,water and other necessary resources to refugees and Ukrainians. These organizations need financial contributions to support their efforts.
Below is a list of some of the many organizations:
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
- The International Committee of the Red Cross
- Doctors Without Borders
- The International Rescue Committee
Through these organizations, you can learn more about their goals and make donations on the official websites.
Along with monetary donations, some of these organizations accept supplies that can be given to those in need.
Katerina Bazarko, ‘25, is Ukrainian and has numerous friends with family members currently in Ukraine or taking refuge in neighboring countries. She is also part of the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization.
After asking around about how she can help, Bazarko said her friends told her that donating first aid kits, hygiene products and canned foods to organizations aiding Ukrainian refugees is a positive way to aid the effort.
Over the past few weeks, Bazarko has been donating supplies to these organizations, and posting on Instagram to encourage others to do the same.
Joining consumer boycotts
Numerous global corporations and companies do business with Russia and boycotting consumption of certain products and services can stifle the Russian economy and their power over Ukraine.
According to CBS News, the number of companies operating out of Russia is diminishing daily, but there are still many U.S. companies that refused to suspend or end their business relations with Russia.
“I have a list of companies that didn’t pull out of Russia and still bring business to that country. So I stopped buying, for instance, Kellogg’s cereals for my kids,” Duvanova said. “They’re paying taxes in Russia, right? So, I don’t want my money to trickle down into the Russian economy.”
To educate individuals on which companies have withdrawn business from Russia and which have not, Yale’s School of Management published a list titled, “Over 400 Companies Have Withdrawn from Russia—But Some Remain.”
In addition to changing the companies she buys products and services from, Duvanova has altered the power source for her house. She switched from a natural gas provider to one that gets energy from windmills. She has begun heating her house with electric heaters instead of ones powered by gasoline, thus lessening her dependency on U.S. natural gas. She explained that decreasing her consumption leaves more available for export. If this is so, there is more available for European households which would help end their reliance on Russian gas.
Duvanova said if individuals in the U.S. and Europe coordinate their actions against companies in Russia, it could help pressure Russia to stop the war.
“I teach international relations, and I’m aware of the historical examples of consumer boycotts actually accomplishing a lot of things,” Duvanova said. “For instance, the apartheid regime in South Africa was brought down in part due to the boycotting of the South African economy.”
Spreading Awareness & Information
Whether on social media, through engaging in discussions or any other means of communication, spreading awareness on the current state of affairs and how we can support Ukraine is helpful.
“It’s going to affect us, and it’s going to affect the rest of the world. So, it’s important that people stay educated on it,” Bazarko said.
In addition to supporting the large NGOs that specialize in relief efforts listed above it’s important to find ways to get resources into the hands of Ukrainians as well. I run a global health NGO called HEALTHRIGHT that has operated in Ukraine since 2005, and today we have 125 full-time (100% Ukrainian) staff who are in-country and serving the millions of internally displaced Ukrainians. Right now we are focused on delivering mental health, medical and psychosocial services to the internally displaced (we’ve been doing this since 2015 after Russia’s 2014 invasion and occupation of portions of eastern Ukraine). You can learn more at http://www.healthright.org — when you support HEALTHRIGHT you’re putting resources directly in the hands of Ukrainians to are best positioned to meet local needs.