Over the last several weeks, Canadians have witnessed a terrible tragedy unfold in Ukraine. War has brought with it death, destruction, and misery while millions of Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries.
It is an ugly reminder that major wars can – and still do – occur in our world. It is also easy to forget that that there are conflicts elsewhere that have been raging for decades. In Africa, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan are gripped by civil war and ethnic strife while Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad continue to suffer from the Boko Haram insurgency. In the Middle East, civil wars rage in Yemen and Syria while in Asia, conflict has claimed thousands of lives in Afghanistan and Myanmar.
Humanitarian assistance is frequently provided through a network of charities and non-governmental organizations. The PGME Office has put together a short list of reputable organizations which work to make a difference in times of need, both in Ukraine and around the world.
The UNHCR helps aid and protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people. They are currently providing emergency assistance in fifteen countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and South America.
MSF works in over 70 countries around the world to provide care in the aftermath of emergencies. In Ukraine, MSF has distributed war-wounded kits in Mariupol, and have provided telemedicine training for trauma care for surgeons.
The Canadian Red Cross Society is part of the largest humanitarian network in the world, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. This network includes the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies dedicated to improving the situation of the most vulnerable throughout the world. The Canadian Red Cross has been raising funds for humanitarian operations in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
The Ukrainian Red Cross is mobilizing volunteers and resources, collecting blood and helping those affected by the conflict. Ukrainian Red Cross will visit detention centres to ensure prisoners of war have adequate food and hygiene. The International Committee of Red Cross is also supporting Ukrainian Red Cross with medicines and equipment, food and hygiene items for families. Donations are processed by the Swiss Red Cross.
GlobalMedic is a Canadian charity which provides disaster relief and life-saving humanitarian aid in response to large-scale catastrophes around the world through a Rapid Response Team. They are currently on the ground in Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia.
The Rotary Clubs of Kingston have partnered with ShelterBox, an international disaster relief charity that hand-delivers emergency shelter and the tools families need to self-recover after natural disasters and conflict around the world. A team from ShelterBox has arrived in Poland and they are working to understand the shelter needs of those fleeing.
Airbnb.org (the non-profit arm of Airbnb) is funding short term housing for up to 100,000 people fleeing Ukraine. They support refugee guests regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, or how they identify. Donations can be made at Airbnb.org.
Recently, people have booked stays at Airbnb locations in Ukraine even though they have no intention of actually staying there. It's a way to help provide funds to hosts in Ukraine and communicate with them about their situation. Airbnb has temporarily waiving guest and host fees on bookings in Ukraine and the trend has been featured by CBC and CTV.