critical Aid to Ukraine
A local Facebook group “Birmingham Stands With Ukraine” hosted one of Birmingham’s first rallies in support of Ukraine in response to the first strikes of warfare almost a year ago. On February 25, 2023, approximately 50 residents gathered outside Railroad Park in Birmingham, Alabama, to show support for Ukraine amid the ongoing war with Russia and commemorate 365 days of the war in Ukraine. This is the exact spot where many of these same supporters gathered for the first time almost a year ago in support of Ukraine after Russia’s attack on February 24, 2022. With 365 seconds of silence, the group acknowledged the resilience and bravery of the Ukrainian people. The group focuses on organizing local actions such as fundraisers and rallies to aid Ukraine. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, poverty rates have multiplied more than five times, placing more than 8 million Ukrainians in poverty by the close of 2022. These Birmingham residents continue to advocate for critical aid to Ukraine.

Impacts of the Russia-Ukraine War on Global Poverty

Scotty Colson, the Honorary Consul for Ukraine to Alabama, addressed the crowd at the start of the rally and noted how easy it is for the global community to forget about the ongoing war in Ukraine and push the issue out of mind when it does not directly affect them.

People in the U.S. do not see or hear the constant warfare. Some may think that the U.S. has its own problems to worry about. The truth is that the war in Ukraine affects everyone. The Federal Reserve says the war in Ukraine has created a geopolitical risk that has caused a global spike in inflation due to supply chain disruptions and limited access to food and energy resources.

As the war continues, countries all over the world continue to see an overall rise in the cost of living. For example, the exportation of fossil fuels has become so expensive that more households across the world now face the risk of falling into energy poverty.  The expense of heating, cooling and lighting has increased to an almost unmanageable level for many households. The World Economic Forum reported in February 2023 that rising costs of living due to the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war have the potential to push between 78 million and 141 million people below the global poverty line.

Ukraine TrustChain Takes Action

The Ukraine TrustChain is an organization that supports volunteer groups in Ukraine. To provide critical aid to Ukraine, it works hands-on with residents by delivering medicine, food, generators and stoves while repairing war-ravaged schools and homes.

So far, the Ukraine TrustChain has helped more than 1 million Ukrainian residents and tens of thousands of residents continue to receive support weekly. In the most recent March 2023 effort, the Ukraine TrustChain supported a small group by the name of Dobra Spavra that undertakes evacuation missions. The group traveled 16 times in one week into the frontline zones of warfare to evacuate 208 people. The Ukraine TrustChain supplied this group with a van, fuel and vehicle repairs to provide further critical aid to Ukraine through evacuation missions.

The Ukraine TrustChain runs an online art merchandise store to gain financial support for its humanitarian endeavors. It partnered with artists from Ukraine and other supporters around the world to create and sell merchandise such as tote bags, scarves, t-shirts, notebooks and prints of original designs in support of Ukraine. The nonprofit states that 100% of the net proceeds from the sales go to on-the-ground volunteer groups in Ukraine.

Looking Ahead

The rally in Birmingham, Alabama, displays the ability of the average person to contribute to aiding people in war-afflicted countries through advocacy. One person’s Facebook group with 380 current members continues to gain support and raise awareness across the Birmingham area of the need for critical aid to Ukraine. With millions of Ukrainian people living in poverty due to the ongoing war, advocacy and aid efforts are crucial.

– Leah Smith
Photo: Courtesy of Leah Smith