Ukraine humanitarian crisis 1 year later: NY, Tri-State's role

Josh Einiger Image
Thursday, February 23, 2023
One year later: the Ukraine crisis
Eyewitness News reporter Josh Einiger reports on the war in Ukraine one year later and the roles that the US and New Yorkers are playing.

As we approach one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Eyewitness reporter Josh Einiger reflects on the roles the U.S. and New Yorkers have played in the humanitarian crisis.

It's still going on every day in parts of Ukraine. The indiscriminate shelling of civilians like in Kherson, a port city in the south, where this week, five died and more than a dozen were hurt, as Russian artillery hit residential buildings including a hospital and a kindergarten.

"They're all counting on the world community losing interest and Ukraine just folding, and Ukraine's not going to fold," said Dora Chomiak of Razom for Ukraine.

Thousands of miles away, Chomiak is working to keep up the support.

She runs Razom for Ukraine, the New York-based nonprofit that's working to channel American charitable giving, into what the country needs the most.

With an army of 170,000 donors and volunteers, nearly $80 million has been raised to help people whose daily lives have been affected by war.

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"People are making do," Chomiak said. "My cousin's kids, one week he goes to school in person and other week he does distance because the bomb shelter can only hold half the kids. So, everyone's kind of made accommodations like that."

Last year Eyewitness News traveled to the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine to see first-hand the crisis that was enveloping Europe as a tidal wave of refugees washed over the border and met an army of volunteers, many of them from the Tri-State area.

Mark Zaric flew from the Jersey Shore, rented a van and parked himself at the train station in the border town of Przemsyl, a bustling waystation teeming with Ukrainian families.

"They're out of their homes, they're in another country and they don't know where they're going, it's a hard thing to deal with really," Zaric said.

He drove them to a makeshift refugee center a few miles away, where Eyewitness News found Sasha, an Upper East Side resident who works in finance. She flew with nearly three dozen pieces of checked baggage bulging with supplies she had gathered from strangers on Facebook.

"You're across the ocean and you feel this type of guilt that you're safe over there and no matter how much you try to help monetarily or donation-wise it doesn't, doesn't fill the void," she said.

Eyewitness News found volunteer efforts both small and huge.

Connecticut-based AmeriCares by now has delivered more than 300 tons of medical supplies, to facilities throughout Ukraine.

But with last week's surprise visit by President Joe Biden, who passed through the very same train station to commemorate the war's one year anniversary, Dora Chomiak says the need has now changed dramatically.

"Ukraine needs weapons to defend itself, that's big picture you're not going to put that in a suitcase," Chomiak said. "On the border there's less flow so the big kitchens and stuff are less needed."

She's now staffing up in Ukraine, getting more boots on the ground to direct aid to where it's still very much needed, in a country that's survived longer than so many people feared.

Chomiak vows that the country will someday win.


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