On February 24th, troops invaded Ukraine from the north, east and south, bombing over a dozen cities and destroying military targets. Russian forces moved swiftly toward the nation’s capital Kyiv with the intention of overthrowing the government. Putin warned other countries against interfering and asserted that Russia remains a powerful nuclear state, leaving Ukraine largely alone in the fight. Since these actions began, thousands of citizens have lost their lives, entire cities have been destroyed, and millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes, becoming refugees of war. The situation has been declared a humanitarian crisis. The invasion rages on, with Russia showing no sign of stopping until it has conquered Ukraine and overthrown its democratically elected government. Although this is a political war, I believe helping Ukraine is not a political issue, rather a humanitarian one. Like every country, Ukraine has its problems and is far from perfect. But Russia, by definition, is committing war crimes. Some of these crimes include intentional civilian attacks, ambushing nuclear power plants, and using cluster munitions in the bombardment of residential areas.
In the past few weeks, you have probably wondered if we as Tulane students can do anything to help. It feels impossible to make any impact in a crisis that is 6000 miles away, but there is always something you can do to help. It is important as a human rights advocate and global citizen to do so. It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to get anything into Ukraine right now so be very careful which organizations you are donating to as there are few who can legitimately get resources to Ukranians. So how can you help?
The most important thing right now is donations. These donations are not going toward the Ukrainian government or the conflict itself, rather toward international relief organizations with experience in handling international crises. Smaller organizations, GoFundMes, and political organizations can be a great way to help, but also present additional risks. Be sure that if you chose to donate to one that you trust it, here is a helpful guide on how to avoid scams. At the end of this article is a list of some trustworthy organizations that help with factors like medicine, hygiene, food, refugee resources, housing, trauma, and media support.
Of course, not everyone is in a financial position to donate right now, but there are still ways you can help. Social media has played a huge role in recent movements by increasing awareness, spreading resources and important information. It is a great tool that is widely accessible to college students but it is also a slippery slope. Preformative activism is something that we should all be aware of after the black square fiasco of 2020. Make sure that if you choose to post you are asking yourself if it is for the right reasons such as getting relief to Ukrainian people or spreading key information about the crisis rather than simply wanting your followers to know that you care.
In the past few weeks, Russia has exploited social media to push their political messages and spread false information about the invasion. By targeting Spanish and English speaking countries with propaganda, Russia has planted the seeds of misinformation on an international scale. Some of these messages include denying the severity of the bombing and claiming images of war torn cities are fake, claiming the Ukrainian government is doing this to their own people, and even claiming that there is no war at all. If you see any of these propaganda messages be sure to report them.
The final way you can help is by social action. Many protests have already taken place right here in Louisiana. On February 21st and March 4th LSU students took to ‘Free Speech Alley’ to spread awareness on the severity of the situation and its potential global impact. About a week ago, hundreds rallied in downtown New Orleans to denounce the invasion and show support for those it is impacting. While it may not have a direct impact, protests are important to spread awareness, declare public opinion, and ensure that our government knows how much we care about this issue. Be sure to participate in local protests if you are able. We have shown in the past that we have the power to promote real change and have our voices heard. Just as we used our voices during the sexual assault protests last December, we should use our power to promote good and even consider having a protest right here on campus. This is an extremely pressing issue that affects more and more innocent civilians every day, any contribution we can make to the Ukrainian people helps. Do your own research, start conversations, make contributions, and it’s possible that we could make a real positive impact on the world.
Featured Image Via foreignpolicy.com