What can someone in Germany do to help people in Ukraine?
For just over a week, the world has felt heartbreak, anger and solidarity for the people of Ukraine, but most of all, people have wanted to help. Here are some great ways to help the people of Ukraine from right here, in Germany.
Donate to charities or the Ukrainian military
There are many great organisations working to support civilians on the ground in Ukraine, as well as places where you can donate directly to the Ukrainian military. Some of the best options for supporting civilians include the German Red Cross, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and Caritas. By opting to donate to help civilians, funds go to support people in Ukraine with basic supplies and emergency medical care.
Note that there are currently a large number of calls for donations, especially across social media, but it's not always clear which organisation stands behind the call. You can see a list of reputable organisations via the website of the German Central Institute for Social Issues.
If you want to donate to the Ukrainian military, there are also several options. Firstly, the National Bank of Ukraine has set up a special fund accepting donations for the military in the country. This is a good option if you want to send your money straight to Ukraine. There are also other routes, such as with ArmySOS and Come Back Alive, who both purchase supplies for the army, such as radios and helmets. There are also a number of pages on GoFundMe that are dedicated to supporting independent journalism in Ukraine, to fight disinformation.
If you don’t like the idea of donating money, you can also donate things to support people who have fled the war or need help within Ukraine. This includes urgent supplies such as warm clothes for the cold weather, hygiene products,camping stoves, first aid kits, sleeping bags and food.
There are numerous drop-off points in all major German cities, including dedicated collections taking place at the Ukrainian Consulate General and the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Düsseldorf. In Berlin, donations are being accepted at the Pilecki Institute on Pariser Platz and at the Humboldt Forum on March 5 and 6. Many of these collections advertise on social media, so be sure to check Facebook for upcoming collections in your federal state.
Join a protest in solidarity with Ukraine
While it may not feel like a huge contribution, protests in solidarity with the people of Ukraine can really make a difference. Firstly, it can encourage the German government to act on the issue - draw up more sanctions, have discussions with the EU about bloc-wide actions and invest money into helping Ukrainians.
Secondly, protests are also important to the Ukrainians themselves. Protests and demonstrations show Ukraine that the whole world is behind them and shows Russia the worldwide discontent with their aggressive military policy. There are many upcoming demonstrations that can be found on social media, so once again be sure to check Facebook for protests to join in your area.
Offer accommodation for refugees from Ukraine
You can also help citizens from Ukraine to start rebuilding their lives by giving them a place to stay in Germany. Many people have lost their possessions, jobs and homes, so having a safe and cosy place to sleep at night is deeply appreciated in these hard times. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expects up to 4 million people to flee from Ukraine if the war does not end quickly.
Unterkunft Ukraine is helping to put refugees in contact with landlords and homeowners who have a room or a living space to spare, with options to help people get themselves in a better head space for two weeks or more. The great thing about this is that you can also meet Ukrainian people and hear about their stories and their lives back at home firsthand.
Write to German politicians
Finally there is possibly one of the simplest options for German residents who want to help people from Ukraine - you can write to local politicians or government officials to ask for their help in dealing with the current crisis. Some of the most influential people you can write to include ambassadors, trade envoys, defence ministers, diplomats and even your local MP.
You can raise the specific issues that concern you, from worries about human rights and the children that are still in Ukraine, to concerns you may have about nuclear weapons, and offer suggestions to tackle the issues. Though they may not take your advice onboard completely, or agree with your stance, they will certainly let elected officials know what people in Germany care about and can help them decide on what next steps could be taken.
Remember to be kind
Most of all, it is important to remember to be kind to people right now. Many people have been deeply affected by the conflict, both in Ukraine and overseas. Images shown on social media and the news can make people feel sad and even angry at the current situation.
A lot of Russian people are deeply upset by the conflict that their government has initiated and feel a sense of solidarity with the Ukrainians. That’s why it is important to remember to always be kind and to not let these heartbreaking times and feelings of anger come between us as civilians.