Saturday, January 28

Aid to Ukraine: from enthusiasm to discouragement

After an entire afternoon loading a trailer parked in a warehouse that a company in Mutxamel (Alicante) has given them, the Ukrainian volunteers from the Alicante association Slavutich finish the stowage of 30 pallets of humanitarian aid for the homeless in Ukraine. At dusk, Antonina Rohalska, in her normal life philologist and teacher and in this crisis coordinator of Slavutich, fires the truckers who have just started for their first stopover in France. The next day, Friday, she will send another shipment to Chernigiv; the of an emergency medical supplies truck that have been filled by ex-military special forces members of the Roble y Machete Foundation in Alicante.

This Wednesday, six months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the arrival of the two most recent aid shipments from Spain is scheduled donated by individuals and local entities to the victims by russian invasion.

But the Alicante scene could be an exception. The associations that help Ukraine consulted by this newspaper at various points painfully confirm that donations from ordinary people have decreasedat the same time that the commotion, perhaps the interest, of public opinion in the war subsided.

The repetition of images on television has ended up accustoming the public eye. Or at least that’s how he thinks Oksana Demianovich from Bilbao. “Aid has dropped drastically,” comments this volunteer from the Ukraine-Basque Country Association, which by force, out of necessity, is becoming a logistics expert with so many trucks. One month has passed since trailer number 35 sent by your association was released. She left Lezama (Vizcaya) with the last 20,000 kilos of aid, of the more than 600,000 that have managed to collect of the residents of Bilbao and Vitoria, and of the approximately 6,000 Ukrainians who live in the Basque community.

But the latest aid collection campaign in the Basque Country has been “disappointing”, admits Oksana. “Perhaps it is because of the holidays, because people need to rest, but surely it is also because the countries of the South, France, Portugal, Spain, see the war much further. But Ukraine fights for Europe…”, he reflects.

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95% less

Six months after the bombings at dawn on February 24 with which Russia began its aggression, “today it is much more difficult to fill a truck,” says Demianovic. At 8,000 euros the freight comes out to the Ukraine to the associations of Madrid, the Basque Country and the Valencian Community. There are still plenty of drivers who offer to go to the border of Polandbut, since there are no longer as many funds or as many pallets as before, shipments have become more selective: “Especially packaged food, not in glass, and first-aid kit material,” says the Bilbao-based activist.

In Madrid and Barcelona they also note the reduction of popular aid. “I’m not going to lie to you: The truth is that people forget, and not only the Spanish: the Ukrainians too,” says Roman Tsaisev, who left his job and salary to organize the shipments of the Madrid-based NGO United with Ukraine (Aucu).

For Tsaisev it is also a media phenomenon: “The TV hardly shows anything anymore, but every day 10, 20, 50 civilians die in Ukraine…”. And that reality contrasts daily with the fact that private aid “has dropped by 95%”.

A couple of months ago, from the warehouses of the Isabel Zendal hospital, where Aucu has a logistics base provided by the Community of Madrid, up to six trucks could leave in one day. “Now, we send a truck a week,” says Roman. In his notebook he has already counted 164 trucks of material sent to the border with Poland, with the Madrid government paying for the diesel.

“Law of Life”

In Barcelona, ​​volunteers from the association leave it They also admit the decrease in the enthusiastic solidarity that characterized the Catalan popular reaction in the first days of the war, but they prefer not to comment on it, perhaps not to offend anyone.

He says resigned from Murcia Victor Z., association member Ukraine Rodyna, that this phenomenon is “law of life”. In his opinion, that people get tired of war “is the normal evolution.” In Murcia, he says, the municipalities have been forgotten less than the individuals. But above all the one that remains most active is the Ukrainian colony. “We help by our own means, because we all have families in danger, and because we shouldn’t just rely on official help.”

In Alicante, Antonina, the leader of Slavutich (the old name of the Dnieper River), is more optimistic. Like those from Murica and Euskadi, the association has been working among Ukrainians since before this war, when, in 2014, unmarked soldiers took Crimea and half of the Donbas.

The Alicante coast is the area of ​​Spain that hosts the largest Ukrainian colony. And that is perhaps one of the reasons why the trucks do not stop leaving there. A dense and discreet capillarity of deliveries of jars, bandages, cans of peppers, money, boxes of painkillers, goes hand in hand among Ukrainians who live in Spain.

people get tiredand that the Spanish are beginning to notice the crisis…”, points out from Madrid Roman, and Antonina believes on the coast that “It’s not that people turn their backs on us, it is that the help has changed”. In the month of March, he says, “it was stress, we received a lot of clothes, which we had left over. In fact a solar battery, batteries, flashlights, cans of tuna and pâté, socks, helmets… and sweets, because sweets also help in war”.

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most urgent

All the Ukrainians consulted refer that it is the support of city councils and autonomies that keeps the chain of solidarity alive. “Thanks to the Government of Díaz Ayuso, from June to July 17 there was a collection of material in the subway, universities, ministries, town halls… something else could be collected -says Tsaisev-. But that was before holidays; people want to unwind on vacation”.

The institutional drip remains, materialized in a pallet of coffee, or diapers, which arrive from time to time at the Madrid warehouse, but “all the aid we have sent has already been eaten, the people there have already spent it”. “They tell me from Ukraine: ‘We’re screwed, we need more’“Roman despairs.”winter is coming Oksana remembers. Look, people here are worried about the price of gas; there, it’s that there are a lot of people who don’t have heating: they don’t have a home”.

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This autumn the recruitment campaigns will return. And they will ask for the most peremptory, “bandages, betadine, anti-bleeding medicine“, lists Oksana. “Do you know what is most urgent? Roman explains: if they blow up your house in Kharkiv, the first thing you need is to drink water, eat and shower. Well, that: food and soap.

This Ukrainian volunteer finishes the interview because he has a lot of calls to make. And he makes a final sad comment: “If I could, I would send a helmet to each child. Ukrainian, and every man who is hiding in the field to prevent the tanks from passing”.

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