Blue Bridge Foundation
More than three weeks after the beginning of the war, uncertainty hovers over a world under stress. Will President Putin step back in response to international sanctions? Will Europe recover from the heavy economic crisis that lies ahead? After having feared for the safety of our health for two years, here we are now, fearing for our safety… period.
The semblance of geopolitical stability that the Western world has known since the end of the Cold War has been completely reversed. NATO and the European Union have their integrity called into question and find themselves facing the threat of a worldwide military escalation, as well as a nuclear risk, stronger than ever. Negotiations are multiplying, so are the number of deaths, and a democratic solution has yet to be found. The sword of Damocles hangs over our heads.
On top of this political instability, a new immigration crisis has arisen. Over 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. This is equivalent to two times the population of the island of Montreal, in just 20 days. In addition to those who have managed to cross the border, nearly 6 million more refugees are moving around within the country, an exodus of a magnitude unseen in Europe since the Second World War. Imagine this vast country crisscrossed by endless convoys of people leaving their homes, exhausted by sleepless nights watching for the sound of bombs, heavy-hearted at the thought of having to abandon family members in order to protect some of them.
Testimonies from the Ukrainian borders are unambiguous: the situation is overwhelming. Inside the country, lines of vehicles stretch for hundreds of kilometers. It can take several days to reach a customs post. Journalists from the New York Times (let us salute the bravery of the reporters on the ground) joined the convoy from Kyiv to the Polish border. The journey is exhausting. Citizens spend the nights in their cars or in the corridors of abandoned hotels. At the border, the men, who are obliged to stay on the territory, bid farewell to the women and children who have no idea when, or if, they will return home.
In spite of everything, hope remains for human solidarity. A journalist from Le Monde reports that while Ukrainians are flocking to the border, Polish and foreign volunteers are also showing up. Donations of clothes and food are distributed to refugees, strangers come to offer a ride or temporary accommodation. If peace has disappeared, we need to hold on to the bit of humanity that remains. For if the war can still last three days, three weeks or three months, the immigration crisis has only just begun.
Several countries have put in place emergency procedures to welcome refugees on their territory. Poland is currently the largest host country, with more than 1.7 million refugees. Hungary has opened its border to Ukrainians fleeing the war, and Moldova, which fears being the target of an upcoming Russian offensive, has done the same. In Berlin, those who speak Russian or Ukrainian are mobilizing to help with the continuing flow of refugees. France plans to take in more than 100,000 immigrants. Canada has launched two programs to facilitate the arrival of Ukrainian nationals on its territory.
The succession and accumulation of health, climate, political and immigration crises are destabilizing the world as we know it. A deep sense of helplessness is taking hold of our society, especially among the younger generations. According to the historian Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens), the return of war in Europe, regardless of its outcome, will impact political ideologies on a global level. Budgets will be allocated differently in favour of defence, at the risk of putting (once again) environmental emergencies and health care funding on the back burner. Globalization and the interdependency of countries must be revisited. According to the author, we must rebuild the big international institutions and concentrate our efforts to repair (and save) the world we live in. But where do we begin?
Regarding the war in Ukraine, here is what we can do as individuals:
Support the organizations that are working closest to the crisis. Many NGOs have responded by sending agents on the ground as quickly as possible to facilitate and organize the influx of refugees. As a Family Office, this is what we are turning to. Blue Bridge, for its part, has chosen to support ACTED, a French association that has been working since 1993 to address humanitarian crises. This organization has deployed an emergency team in Moldova and is also sending members to Poland to coordinate the arrival and care of incoming Ukrainians. Every donation can make a difference. If you would like to participate with us, you can make a donation on our Foundation’s platform.
“Traffic jams to leave conflict hotspots and to enter neighbouring countries are dozens of kilometers long, leaving people to wait for days in their cars. Some decide to leave their vehicles and finish the journey on foot with few belongings. People require urgent assistance to protect themselves from the cold, get warm food, and water while they travel”, testifies Sebastien Lambroscini, ACTED’s Country Director in Ukraine.
We can also provide concrete help by giving material goods or by donating our time. Some doctors have started to offer first-aid training through videoconference. The Quebec Bar Association has reached out to pro-bono lawyers to advise and guide those who would choose Canada as their new home. Several Ukrainian associations in different cities are collecting basic necessities and warm clothes to distribute to refugees. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress is also offering to fill out an online form should you be willing to support the newcomers. In several months, child psychologists, language teachers, and housing facilities will be needed. Let’s start preparing now.
If we cannot find peace and freedom, let us try to preserve our humanity.
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