Moscow’s angle: How CSOs are helping refugees from Donbas

And how people can contribute


Two days ago, the Russian Red Cross began delivering humanitarian aid to Rostov-on-Don for evacuees from Donbas. Currently, more than 7000 people are settled in the Rostov region and almost half of them are children.

Within the region refugees are being assisted by volunteers from resource volunteer centres including the Association of Volunteer Centres, the Russian Student Rescue Corps, ONF Youth, medical volunteers and various other public associations. The Russian Red Cross is raising funds for evacuees.

A collection for donations is available on the WeStandTogether website. People can find out how to become a volunteer, donate funds, donate goods or find the contacts of various humanitarian aid collection centres. Funds will be used to help refugees and provide items for temporary accommodation centres.

“Volunteers have been assigned to all of the temporary accommodation points. They assist with collecting donations from various administration points as well as organising aid received from citizens” says Boris Podolny, coordinator of the #WeStandTogether headquarters in Rostov-on-Don. “Yesterday 35 cars were shipped. We tried to cover the majority of people’s needs. Regional headquarters are made up of volunteers from the People’s Front and the Association of Volunteer Centres. Volunteers participate in meetings and help organise the refugees. They have distributed their roles, the tasks and responsibilities amongst themselves.”

The Rus Food Fund has already transferred more than 60 tonnes of aid to citizens* who have been evacuated from Donbas to the temporary accommodation centres in the Rostov region. This includes drinking water, sanitary products (towels, pads, toothbrushes, toilet paper and soap), tinned foods, baby food, tea, coffee, biscuits, matches, disposable cutlery and medical masks.

In addition to the food supplies from large companies, the fund raises money to purchase other important goods and to organise specific assistance.

The charity Food for Life has also been providing humanitarian aid to the Rostov region. Volunteers deliver homemade soups and porridge via a mobile kitchen and distribute the hot meals to refugees. People can make a donation on the website.

“We put out a call on social media for aid and on the very first day we collected 50,000 roubles out of our 70,000 target. I’m pleased with this response because, in my opinion, we still do not have a great charity culture here in Russia. But more and more people are understanding that without mutual assistance and compassion we won’t get anywhere,” says Valery Dolgopolov, president of Food for Life. “We’re now encountering a different problem: so many volunteers have responded and are ready to fly in and I’m afraid we won’t be able to involve everyone. The coordinators are on site and making schedules to try and make sure everyone can get involved.”

The Collection of Humanitarian Aid has also set up the projects Mercy and House for Mums in collaboration with Orthodox services. People can donate goods from 09:00 to 21:00 seven days a week by bringing them to 49 Nikoloyamskaya, Building 3, Moscow. They can also donate using the link. Funds collected will be used to purchase food, sanitary items and household amenities.


* BEARR comment: “citizens” refers to Ukrainian citizens of the Russian-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine who were offered Russian citizenship during the occupation, and were evacuated to Russia in the days before the Russian armed forces invaded Ukraine.

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