An update from IREX President and CEO Kristin Lord on IREX’s fund for Ukraine
With the generous contributions to our Rapid Reaction Support Fund, we have been able to assist trusted partners in Ukraine to meet the immediate needs of civilians and protect vulnerable populations. The donations are also aiding the brave journalists whose reporting is keeping the world informed about the valiant acts Ukrainians are taking to protect their country as well as the atrocious attacks and violence civilians are enduring.
As the war in Ukraine continues to cause devastation, we want to keep you updated with our most recent efforts. So far, we have already spent or committed half the funds raised. Meanwhile, our efforts are accelerating quickly as our staff – who were turned overnight into refugees, conscripts, and internally displaced people – have stabilized their personal situations and thrown themselves into supporting their fellow Ukrainians.
Meeting the basic needs of civilians and vulnerable populations
Because of the strong relationships we have forged through decades of work in Ukraine, we were able to quickly identify and support organizations with established logistical strengths to distribute necessities and first aid supplies, such as medical tourniquets and bandages, to vulnerable populations and internally displaced persons living in shelters.
We are also working with one of our local partners to provide secure transportation to evacuate people from Kramatorsk and Kharkiv to safer parts of the country in the West.
Safety and support for journalists and independent media outlets
Journalists in Ukraine are providing a window for the world to see the toll the war is taking on Ukrainian citizens and infrastructure; they are also providing life-saving information to civilians and countering Kremlin disinformation and propaganda. IREX has provided financial support to forty journalists and their family members, who are reporting from the Russian occupied areas of Kharkiv, Kherson, Mena, and Chernihiv. With IREX’s support they are continuing to provide critical information to Ukrainians. Nine journalists and their family members that needed relocation to the Western part of the country due to constant shelling in the cities they report from (Chernihiv, Nizhyn, Sumy, Slavytich Slavutych, Donetsk) were provided financial support for relocation as well. We also helped a local media outlet, Khmelnytsk, establish a temporary hub for displaced journalists from other regions to sustain their reporting.
Documenting war and raising awareness of its toll
To fully understand Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, it is critical that we have an accurate and full account of the Kremlin’s brutality as well as the courage the Ukrainians have displayed throughout the war. To preserve the historical record, IREX is supporting the work of two dozen Ukrainian illustrators, story editors, and web designers to protect, document, and collect accurate war-related information as well as highlight professionals that support and cover the basic needs of civilians, including journalists that provide life-saving information, information technology professionals that provide technical support for localities under siege, pharmacists providing medicines, food providers distributing hot meals, and many others.
Beyond the fund: Expanding services to Ukrainians by leveraging existing IREX programs
In addition to the launch of the Rapid Reaction Support Fund, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in major changes in IREX’s existing programs and initiatives in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Our teams swiftly re-oriented activities to respond to the immediate needs of Ukrainians fleeing the war’s violence and destruction. Specifically, we are repurposing youth centers to serve as safe spaces for internally displaced persons; creating learning spaces for children in libraries; working with local partners to provide psychosocial support and basic assistance to displaced persons, notably women and children; and procuring communications equipment for government partners to better execute their own crisis management and resilience plans.
Continued support for Ukraine needed
The Ukrainian people’s response continues to inspire us. And as the conflict wears on, sadly, there is no end in sight to the suffering of millions of civilians caught in it. Our efforts to meet the Ukrainian people’s immediate needs and to positively impact their lives through programs that empower youth, cultivate leaders, strengthen institutions, and extend access to quality education and information must continue.
The destruction and loss of life in Ukraine is horrendous and your support is critical to our current and future work to support Ukrainians. If you would like to help, please donate to our Rapid Reaction Support Fund.
Specific needs we are seeing emerge on the ground in Ukraine include:
- Getting first aid and personal protective equipment and support to local emergency services and humanitarian workers
- Supporting volunteers and informal groups contributing to relief efforts to follow best practices for prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse
- Raising awareness of risks of trafficking in persons among displaced persons, especially unaccompanied minors
- Keeping women-owned businesses open so families do not have to rely entirely on humanitarian assistance
- Connecting displaced Ukrainians to employment opportunities (including virtual employment) as jobs disappear and savings run low
- Providing learning resources to children who have been displaced by conflict
- Helping people to find family members who are now missing