In the terrible context of the war on Ukraine that is already in its 6th week now, I would like to give a quick overview of the situation as it presents itself today, as well as of the action already taken by EBU and planned to undertake in the near future. As the information we can gather changes all the time, this summary will be updated on a regular basis, as you saw last week when the Board sent a special communication on Ukraine.
Already during the first day after the Russian invasion, EBU published a press release forcefully condemning the military action as well as calling for all parties to ensure the protection and safety of blind and
partially sighted people. While these seem just words, our press release forms our political position towards the tragic and unjustified events.
Very quickly, EBU started an open call for special contributions to help blind and partially sighted people in Ukraine and refugees fleeing the country. I would like to take advantage of this article to thank our members who have already made a generous contribution to that special section of our Solidarity Fund. The money you are giving will benefit to 100 % people in need as a direct consequence of the war on Ukraine. The exact actions that receive support are assessed on a case-by-case basis, but the cornerstones of what the funding will support are the following:
- As much as possible, immediate and direct support to blind and partially sighted people still living in Ukraine, in order to provide them with protection and access to basic services.
- We support our members in neighbouring countries in their enormous efforts to welcome blind and partially sighted refugees. For example, we are currently looking into funding a coordination position in Poland whose role would be not only to serve as focal point for refugees coming to Poland, but also to identify capacities in other countries to host them, as well as mapping needs in terms of accessible material, for example.
- Members who are from bordering countries and who need support, please let us know what exactly your needs are, so that we can assess if and how we can intervene.
- We do not forget that there will be needs beyond the times of the terrible war. For example, we know that a school for the blind in the city of Kharkiv has been damaged by a bomb. So, this shows that efforts to re-build that school, and certainly other critical infrastructure for the inclusion of blind and partially sighted people in post-war Ukraine, will also require resources, and we will play our part in the reconstruction phase.
Before letting you read the other articles in this edition of our monthly newsletter, I would like to re-state that I am serving as coordination point for all questions and information about Ukraine. So please feel free to get in touch.
Lars Bosselmann, EBU Executive Director