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World Humanitarian Day

This day was designated in memory of the 19 August 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed  twenty-two people, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2009, the UN General Assembly formalised the day as ‘World Humanitarian Day’ to raise awareness of and  shed a spotlight on, aid situations across the world.

As is the way with UN /World Days there is a theme each year. This year the focus is on Food insecurity and the effect on the rights of women and girls. The hashtag this year is #ItTakesAVillage, adapting the proverb  that it takes a village to raise a child. The team from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – OCHRA suggest that it takes a village to support a person in a humanitarian crisis. OCHRA’s view is that the need for humanitarian aid /support has never been higher. The link will take you to UN TV where you can find additional information on World Humanitarian Day 2022.

When people think of Humanitarian Aid, they  tend to think of the organisations who for many years have provided this lifesaving assistance in demanding situations across the world; famine, conflict , pandemics, war . Organisation such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières, OXFAM  to name just a few.

This blog offers an opportunity to look at a slightly different approach,  – a Soroptimist focused approach – in sharing the  humanitarian aid provided to the people of the Ukraine, those still in country and those fleeing the war by Clubs in Soroptimist International of Europe. This work is supported by individual Soroptimists, Clubs, Unions, and Federations across the world. On the SIE website there are many examples of projects focusing on humanitarian aid, I have chosen a small number here for illustrative purposes.

 

The issues

Excerpt from the SI statement, signed by other women’s organisation, on the war in Ukraine

“War is never gender-neutral. Women and girls in all their diversity are always disproportionately affected by war, and it is no different in this conflict. The projections that millions will be displaced and will become refugees, are being realised with thousands fleeing daily. Many of those on the move are women and girls; specific, targeted, gender-transformative programmes must be immediately developed and implemented to ensure that their lives, hopes, and dreams are not irreparably damaged by this war.”

Here is information about some of the completed projects listed on the SIE website. I have included some of those  from surrounding countries who received vast numbers of refugees; Poland, Moldova, and Slovakia. There are many more projects ongoing and indeed many clubs/ countries have begun phase 2 projects which look to the longer-term humanitarian needs of rehousing, relocation, and education projects.

 

Internal humanitarian aid to Ukraine – SI Warsaw

The project has for its objective to assist war victims in Ukraine with food, medicine, medical bandaging materials, diapers for children and adults, hygienic products, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, blankets, bed sheets, transport and everything else that is necessary.

Soroptimist in the Ukraine are taking action to support local people, women and children. The needs are huge and they need our support! The Soroptimist Club of Warsaw (Poland) will coordinate the purchase of humanitarian goods needed and transport them to a warehouse in Przemysl situated near the Ukrainian border. (80km to Lviv) From there, things will be picked up and delivered to SI Lviv in Ukraine by contact person from SI Lviv.

Project Matching coordinators: SI Switzerland, SI Luxembourg, SI Poland

 

Moldova – SI Nisporeni

To support the refugees, especially women and children coming to Moldova from Ukraine.

Objectives of the project:

– to welcome and transport the refugees to places for living;

– to supply the refugees with long/ short term support (food, clothing, medicines, hygiene products, means of communication, etc.);

– to help the refugees, who want to settle down in Nisporeni, and integrate in the community.

 

Slovakia – SI Zilina

This project is the continuation of the “War Zone Initiative – SI Zilina (Slovakia)” project which has now entered phase 2.

Indeed, at the end of phase 1, SI Zilina managed to collect the requested funds and obtained the first results thanks to donations made through Project Matching. They have purchased:

  • Food and hygiene supplies for adults,
  • Food, vitamins, medicines, and hygiene supplies for children,
  • Medicines,
  • Medical help to the hospitals in war zone,
  • Beddings, comforters, and pillow for forty beds.

The Soroptimists have expressed the wish to reopen the project to continue to coordinate the purchase of humanitarian goods needed, with the input from the clubs in the war zone.

Funding for all of these projects comes from donations to;

The Disaster Recovery Fund which targets the specific needs of women and girls recovering from the effects of natural disasters and armed conflicts,

The Action Fund which supports humanitarian projects and promotes educational programmes and from

The Project Matching Initiative – The Soroptimist Project Matching is a Network where assistance for Soroptimist projects can be offered or requested. The objective of this collaboration is to match resources between Unions / Clubs / Single Clubs of the European Federation – those that need assistance with a local project (seeking support) and those able to assist (offering support).

More detail about these and other projects can be found at https://www.soroptimisteurope.org/

 

In summary, direct Soroptimist to Soroptimist contact, as outlined above, ensures the right humanitarian aid goes to the people who most need it quickly and effectively. In addition, this work also meets the key Soroptimist Aims and Objectives.

 

Margaret Mowat
FCC SI Scotland South