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The war in Ukraine is having devastating consequences on civilians as families flee their homes. According to the United Nations, more than 3 million people, most of them women and children, have sought refuge in neighboring countries and across Europe, while about 1 million more people have been displaced within Ukraine.

Rotary and Rotaract clubs in Europe and around the world have taken swift action and are working with members nearby to provide food, water, medical equipment, and shelter for refugees.

The Rotary Foundation created a funding channel for relief efforts in Ukraine.

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Rotaract Europe

The European Rotaract Information Centre, a multidistrict information organization that serves Rotaractors all over Europe, created a United for Peace site that compiles information for refugees and volunteers.

  • The site offers information about free rail, bus, and air transportation available to refugees and lists details about what’s needed and how to help at specific national borders.
  • It also has fundraising details for hospitals in the western Ukraine city of Lviv, as well as for clubs that are helping in various places and for other organizations in the region.
  • The site lets Rotaractors coordinate shelter for refugees stranded at the border. Volunteer hosts can sign up through an online form and specify how many people they can house and for how long. Begun as an initiative to help fellow Rotary members leaving Ukraine, it’s now being used by Rotaract and Rotary members all over Europe to offer help.
  • A tool on the site links a demand for goods with available supplies. It was created within 48 hours after a team of 60 members from 10 countries met by videoconference about how to meet the most urgent needs.

Ukraine

Ukraine has 62 Rotary clubs and six satellite clubs with about 1,100 members, and 24 Rotaract clubs with more than 300 members.

  • District 2232 (Ukraine and Belarus) formed a committee to help people affected by the crisis. It has launched an appeal to Rotary members worldwide for funds to provide basic necessities.
  • The city of Lviv has had an influx of people displaced from other cities around Ukraine. The Rotary Club of Lviv International, working with local authorities and major hospitals, created an online spreadsheet of relief items that can be accessed by people who want to help. Members arrange for the donated items to be delivered to hospitals and coordinate storage with local warehouses.

Poland

Poland has taken in more than a million refugees, and Rotary clubs all over the country created a central account for contributions.

  • The Rotary Club of Olsztyn is collecting and managing donations for more than 150 Ukrainians who are staying at Ostróda Camp, a conference and recreation center. Most of the occupants are unaccompanied children whose parents stayed in Ukraine. Four cars full of supplies including food, clothes, toiletries, and toys were donated hours after the center began accepting refugees.
  • Members of the Rotary Club of Zamosc worked with a member of the Rotary Club of Wolsztyn, who owns a medical supply distribution company, to coordinate a partnership with other organizations to collect supplies and equipment.
  • The Rotary Club of Gdansk Centrum is providing accommodations for four refugee families, and members who own businesses are offering them work.

Other countries that border Ukraine

  • The Rotary Club of Kisvárda, Hungary, is coordinating contributions and mobilizing members to donate necessities and deliver the items to where they’re needed.
  • Rotary members in Romania and Moldova have created a central fund for contributions and set up WhatsApp groups that organize food donations and coordinate shelter for refugees.
  • In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, clubs have partnered with a railway and cargo company to offer transportation to nearly 2,300 refugees.

Kim Widlicki and Claudia Brunner contributed to this article.

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