By Michael Nelson
While we sit safe in our homes, Ukrainians have been displaced or forced from theirs’. The majority of survivors have chosen to seek refuge in surrounding countries. This mass exodus is a result of the Russian military’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Since the start of the war, in February 2022, early estimates report that more than 4.6 million refugees have left Ukraine. As of April 6, 2022, 6.5 million citizens have been displaced from their own homes to seek refuge in other parts of Ukraine-also being forced to leave their homes. The people leaving the country have found that some countries have been taking in more refugees than others. Poland has been at the forefront of the Ukrainian refugee crisis, taking in more than 2.5 million refugees since the onset of this crisis.
The Czech Republic is also significant but for opposite reasons. They have taken in a significantly smaller number of those seeking refuge. After taking in slightly more than 270,000, the Prime Minister made a statement that “his country is at the very edge of what they can accept without problems.”
The current situation in Ukraine has led to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Many countries are taking in more than they can comfortably handle. They are working hard to provide food and shelter for the new arrivals. These countries didn’t expect as many refugees or for the war to last this long. Each new day brings news that there is still a war raging on in Ukraine. Some refugees have traveled to t\he United States to meet up with friends and family for a place to stay.
Mark Hetfield, President of HAIS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), is an American advocating for the Ukrainian refugees, Mark Hetfield has said he wants the president’s administration to welcome tens of thousands of refugees. He had used the Clinton Administration’s refugee intake form from Kosovo in 1999 when 20,000 refugees were welcomed. Soon after this, President Biden met with European Allies in Brussels and announced that the United States would accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and provide $1 billion in aid to the countries affected by the invasion. The U.S refugee efforts are focused on those that are seen as vulnerable by the Russian invasion. These focused groups of people include any individual that include members of the LGBTQ, people with medical problems, journalists and/or members of the media, and dissidents. The higher risk of these individuals becoming victims of the Russian’s invasion. These are seen as some of the most important people to be brought out of Ukraine. The US provided refuge to some refugees fleeing from Ukraine but due to the focus on certain people they consider important many families have fled to Mexico to try to come in through the United States southern border.
Though the news seems to keep getting worse even as peace talks are ongoing, the UNHCR ( United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) estimates that 12 million people in Ukraine and 4 million refugees will require relief and protection throughout the rest of 2022, there is a possibility that the 4 million number could increase. Though as of Thursday April 7th, 2022, hope doesn’t seem lost. The U.N refugee agency reported that the number of daily arrivals on the borders of countries surrounding Ukraine had dropped below 40,000 on Wednesday, which was the lowest since the beginning of the invasion in late February. The UNHCR has been doing their best to help during this situation by putting teams on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries to protect and assist those trying to flee, Though the UNHCR has declared this a Level 3 crisis the highest level they can give. The UNHCR is taking donations to provide protection and shelter and many other forms of assistance to those that need it. At the school we do have a few teachers helping with the situation by sending supplies to a former exchange student who was from Ukraine but got displaced because of Russian bombings. A group I’m working with is Ukrainian Aid From Athens Ohio which you can help by leaving powdered foods like (Powdered eggs, powdered milk, powdered potatoes) since the foods will be being sent by sea. We need foods that will last a while, even inspirational letters or drawing are allowed. We have a box set up at the Athens Community Library. If you would like to learn more about it we have an Instagram and Twitter both called uaidathens and a Facebook page called Ukrainian Aid from Athens Ohio USA. Any help is appreciated and is all being sent to help people in Ukraine that are in need.