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4 ways families can help refugees of the war in Ukraine from afar

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Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, over 4 million refugees have fled the country seeking safety. Many of the refugees are women and children, including a growing number of separated and unaccompanied children. After the invasion began, the Ukrainian government declared martial law, prohibiting men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country, and leading to a wave of separated families at the border.

Currently, refugees from Ukraine are finding temporary respite in bordering countries including Poland and Romania. Many other European countries have also begun accepting large numbers of refugees. While US embassies across Europe are being inundated with applications from asylum seekers hoping to find refuge in the US, the application process can take years. The US government recently agreed to accept up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, but how that process will unfold remains to be seen.

As tragic stories and images of refugee families have flooded the media in recent weeks, families in the US are increasingly looking for ways they can help from afar. Here are 4 ways your family can offer support to the refugees of the Russian invasion of Ukraine—

1. Take virtual action

There are plenty of petitions out there that you can sign to urge those in power to support Ukrainian refugees. Here are just a few of them—

  • Support the Kyiv Declaration, which includes urgent appeals to the international community from 40 Ukrainian civil society organizations. The declaration requests that safe spaces be provided for civilians and that the international community increase their support for local humanitarian responses.
  • Contact medical supply companies and ask them to donate supplies to the crisis in Ukraine. Reserves of medical supplies are quickly being depleted in the region, so this petition helps you send an email to several companies urging them to contribute.
  • Use your social media platform to demand peace in Ukraine. This template will help you Tweet your support of the Ukrainian people and demand an end to the Russian invasion. 

2. Learn the history

Brushing up on the historical context of the conflict can help you get a better understanding of the current situation. This explainer gives a good overview of the complicated history between Russia and Ukraine. 

3. Stay informed

While the long process of resettlement is underway for the millions of displaced families from Ukraine, one of the most helpful things you can do is stay up-to-date on the crisis. Staying informed can help your family continue to support those who are most impacted by sharing their stories and spreading awareness. It can also help you understand the most urgent needs on the ground so you can make informed choices about where to give your time or money in response to the crisis, if you’re able. Here are some reliable sources covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine—

  • The Kyiv Independent is a local news media outlet with a strong presence on the front lines of the conflict. You can also donate to their GoFundMe or become a patron to support their efforts. 
  • Olga Tokariuk is an independent journalist on the ground in Ukraine covering the humanitarian crises. 
  • Isabelle Khurshudyan is a Washington Post foreign correspondent, currently reporting from Odesa in Ukraine.
  • Yaroslav Trofimov is the Chief Foreign-Affairs Correspondent at The Wall Street Journal, reporting heavily on the Russian invasion.

4. Donate to organizations operating on the ground in Ukraine

If you’re able to spare a donation but aren’t sure where it will do the most good, the following groups are currently assisting refugees from Ukraine and others impacted by the Russian invasion. Discuss the organizations as a family, so your kids can provide input, understand where and why you’re helping, and see your family values in action.

  • Alight is a humanitarian nonprofit with teams of emergency response workers in Poland assisting the refugees fleeing Ukraine. They are working to deliver basic needs like blankets and sanitation supplies, and providing warming tents to protect vulnerable families from cold exposure. 
  • Direct Relief is working with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and other partners on the ground to provide medical aid, including emergency response kits for first responders, and critical care supplies. 
  • World Central Kitchen, founded by chef José Andrés, delivers meals to the front lines of global humanitarian crises. They are currently on the ground in Ukraine and the surrounding areas, delivering tens of thousands of meals daily to bomb shelters, hospitals, churches, seniors, and people trapped on the front lines. They’re also serving hot meals to the thousands of shelters in the region housing refugees and displaced people. 
  • Voices of Children is a Ukraine-based organization that provides psychological counseling for children impacted by conflict in the region. They are currently supporting children and families across Ukraine with evacuation efforts and mental health care.

As the refugee crisis continues to unfold, the best way to help those most severely impacted is to stay tuned in, and resist the urge to turn away from what’s going on. By amplifying stories of hardship and triumph from the conflict, sharing what resources and knowledge you can, and taking action whenever possible, you and your family can offer some real support to the refugees and displaced people of this tragic war. 

Mckenna Saady is a staff writer and digital content lead for ParentsTogether. Before working for nonprofits such as the Human Rights Campaign and United Way, Mckenna spent nearly a decade as a child care provider and Pre-K teacher. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now lives in Philadelphia and writes poetry, fiction, and children’s literature in her spare time.