Last week, the unthinkable happened, and war has returned to Europe. As of yesterday, 520,000 people have left Ukraine in the span of only five days, triggering a rapidly-growing refugee emergency and what is considered the largest exodus of people in Europe since the Balkan wars. Unless there is an immediate end to hostilities, as many as 4 million Ukrainians are expected to leave the country in the coming days and weeks, according to the UN. Military violence and indiscriminate bombardments upon residential areas and civil facilities like hospitals and kindergartens further escalate the humanitarian crisis.
In the neighbouring countries of Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Republic of Moldova and Slovakia, governments and civil society have mobilised to provide shelter, food and medical assistance to the tens of thousands of Ukrainians crossing their borders. Authorities and NGOs have allocated resources and coordinated the humanitarian aid, private businesses have put their facilities and resources at the disposal of this effort, and hundreds of volunteers have taken to the borders to welcome the numerous people turned refugees overnight, offering everything from shelter in their own homes, hot meals, to transportation. Other governments have provided support to the refugee-receiving countries, and numerous pledges have been made for support inside and outside Ukraine, as well as for future restoration efforts.
The refugees are mostly women, children and some elderly since, as of February 25th (the second day of the Russian invasion), Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are no longer allowed to leave the country and instead were urged by their government to join the military efforts. Dramatic scenes were unfolding at the borders, as families were forced to separate. Very few apply for asylum in neighbouring countries, as they hope for a rapid resolution to the armed aggression and for a return to their homes as soon as possible. Poland and the Republic of Moldova are also home to a large Ukrainian diaspora, and many refugees are attempting to reach their families abroad via the neighbouring countries. Border crossings are overwhelmed with the massive influx of people, although all efforts have been made to expedite the processing. The situation is constantly changing, and the number of refugees is growing by the hour.
Witnessing the fear and disbelief of the displaced Ukrainian people, one is tempted to succumb to a feeling of powerlessness. However, the dire situation united the entire world in protest and mobilised a wide range of responses to the humanitarian crisis, as people worldwide are looking for ways to help and show support for the Ukrainian people. Below we share a list of organisations and aid groups we can contribute to and help alleviate the humanitarian crisis. In addition to humanitarian aid, the architecture community can support the creative professionals of Ukraine whose work and livelihoods have been disrupted by hiring their services. The Hire for Ukraine initiative provides a platform for connecting architects and other creatives to potential employers. Similarly, the Polish National Institute for Architecture and Urban Planning (NIAiU) is building a database of people and businesses working in the creative industry who can offer employment for Ukrainian architects. Croatian architects also initiated the Assistance for Ukrainian refugees in Croatia support group.
UNICEF Donation Drive for Ukrainian Children
Fundraiser for Sunflower of Peace
Lifeline suicide prevention line
Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the Red Cross to support doctors and hospitals
Maltese Aid Service in Ivano-Frankivsk fundraises to accommodate the internally displaced
Emergency Humanitarian Aid for Ukraine by Libereco - Partnership for Human Rights
International Committee of the Red Cross — Ukraine Crisis
Ukraine Refugee Assistance Project- Shigeru Ban Architects