Statement from The Global Fund for Children on the Status of GFC Grantees in Ukraine
The recent tragedy of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 has brought the world’s attention back to the ongoing and growing conflict in southeastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian authorities and Russian-backed separatists.
At The Global Fund for Children, however, our focus on the crisis in Ukraine never faded; we have remained committed to supporting our current and former grantee partners in Ukraine so they can continue to maintain their programs and help vulnerable children and youth in their communities.
From December 2013 to March 2014, the center of the crisis was in the capital city of Kyiv. GFC stepped in to help a former GFC grantee partner assist young disabled orphans to obtain medicine while the young people were not being paid by their employers, who were located in central Kyiv and were blocked by the conflict.
Later, after President Viktor Yanukovich fled the country, the Ukraine crisis shifted to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed, and then to eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian crowds clashed with pro-Euromaidan crowds. In eastern Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv, gas prices increased and local municipalities were often unwilling or unable to continue regular subsidies to NGOs that assisted children. Our current partner Pravo Vibora and our former partner Early Intervention Institute, both in Kharkiv, faced unexpected increases in expenses and gaps in program coverage. The Global Fund for Children was able to provide some assistance in maintaining these organizations’ crucial services for children in Kharkiv who are living with disabilities. Fortunately, Kharkiv has been relatively quiet for the past few months.
Unfortunately, our other partner in eastern Ukraine now faces the gravest of challenges, which only a peace agreement by all parties can help resolve. The southeastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, very close to the Russian border, is now one of the last remaining strongholds of the separatist movement. Our partner, the Association of Young Disabled People of the Eastern Donbass (AMI-East), is located in Luhansk and recently helped send 200 of its beneficiaries to safety in another city in Ukraine.
However, the directors of the organization, who move with the aid of wheelchairs, were unable to leave, and are now among the tens of thousands of Luhansk residents trying to stay sheltered and away from the conflict that is on their doorstep.
UPDATE: July 24, 2014: We heard from AMI-East just hours after posting this update the directors have been able to safely relocate to another city in Ukraine. .
The Ukrainian army is now on the edge of the city, which is nearly surrounded, and images of destroyed buildings and dead bodies on the streets of the city show how horrible the conditions have become in this city, which has not experienced this kind of conflict for over 70 years. We hope that our friends and all the innocent children in cities scarred by this senseless war will be safe, and that recent tragedies and the loss of innocent lives in this region will somehow bring about an end to this conflict.