'We must stand with them' - EDP launches appeal to support Ukraine
- Credit: AP
The war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves around the world and moved communities across Norfolk and Waveney into action, with people helping in so many different ways.
Over the years the EDP and its readers have generously responded to so many causes in times of need and today this newspaper is asking you to dig deep again as it backs the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to help those escaping conflict in Ukraine.
Around two million people have so far fled their homes in the country to escape heavy fighting, shelling and air strikes, leaving behind jobs, belonging and loved ones.
Huge numbers of people have been arriving at Ukraine's borders with Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova with only what they can carry.
And in response to the crisis, EDP editor David Powles has launched an appeal to call on readers in Norfolk and Waveney to raise vital funds for the DEC.
Mr Powles said: "We've all looked on in horror at the actions of Russia against Ukraine and its people and in the last few weeks we've seen so many fantastic examples of people doing what they can to help.
"However, I have no doubt many of us feel somewhat powerless in our ability to assist, therefore I hope that by calling on EDP readers to support the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) fund we can all contribute according to our situation.
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"All of this money goes directly to the key charities who are on the scene working tirelessly to help those who have lost so much.
"I know times are tough for so many at the moment, but I hope our readers can do their bit to support, just as they have always done in the past."
The DEC, whose members include the British Red Cross, CAFOD and ActionAid, is working with local partners to provide water, food shelter, healthcare and protection to those displaced by the conflict.
Funds from its appeal are being used to support humanitarian work involving people internally displaced in Ukraine and refugees in neighbouring countries.
Agencies setting up safe centres
Jo Kitterick of CAFOD, said they are expecting numbers crossing the border to "keep increasing" in the coming days, with the conflict showing "no sign of letting up".
The head of support engagement at CAFOD added: “This amazing show of support for people fleeing the conflict has meant that we have been able to start spending money straight away to help more people.
"We are working inside Ukraine and on its borders, setting up safe centres with beds, food and washing facilities.
"We’re also providing transport, information, psychological support and child-friendly spaces.
“Our local experts are seeing more and more people having to flee their homes to keep themselves safe.
"I want to thank everyone who has donated to help us support them in their moment of greatest need.”
'People fleeing with just the clothes on their back'
The EDP's call to action has received the backing of key figures in Norfolk and families affected by the conflict.
Marika Sigley, a Ukrainian living in Thetford, has been receiving first-hand reports of what is happening in Ukraine and has heard of how "terrified" people are by the ongoing violence.
Her family who live near the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, in the west of the country, managed to escape to the Czech Republic last week.
Ms Sigley said: "What the EDP is doing is absolutely fantastic, people have taken a huge decision to uproot and leave their homes and relatives, and they're on the move with just the clothes on their backs, medication and whatever they can pack into a bag.
"A lot of these people have not taken the decision to flee lightly.
"My family in particular have said the problem is people have money in the bank but the banks are not letting people take money out, so they've got no money with them.
"Your appeal will enable a lot of people to reach friends and relatives and regain a tiniest bit of normality in their lives."
'Let us show how much Norfolk cares'
General The Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, said: "This isn’t just the Ukrainians war, but they are fighting for our democracy and our way of life.
"We must absolutely stand with them and the best way to do that now is to donate to the Disaster’s Emergency Appeal."
The Lady Dannatt MBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, added: "The horrendous news from Ukraine continues, with nearly two million refugees and hundreds of thousands more displaced.
"My heart goes out to the women and children whose men are fighting on the front line.
"Many have lost everything. Let us show how much Norfolk cares by supporting the EDP campaign as generously as we possibly can."
Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, said one of the best ways for people to support the Ukrainian humanitarian efforts is through the DEC.
He added: "It's a dreadful humanitarian crisis that's currently building up to be an even worse one.
"We should all support the best ways we possibly can, there's lots and lots of people who want to help.
"This is about Norfolk doing it's best in a really difficult situation, a humanitarian crisis, as we have done in the past."
Norfolk MP's back call for action
North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said the funds raised so far for the appeal have been "nothing short of phenomenal".
He added: "Over £100million in a matter of days, with the first £20million matched pound-for-pound by the UK government, that’s £1million an hour.
"Over recent weeks, this spirit of generosity and compassion is something I’ve seen first-hand from the community across North Norfolk.
"We may be a rural community but we have big hearts."
North West Norfolk MP James Wild said: "The DEC's urgent appeal to help people fleeing conflict in Ukraine is the best way to help and any donations people can make will provide food, shelter, and clothing for those most in need."
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said it was "really heartening" to see how much the DEC appeal has raised so far.
He added: "I support the efforts of this newspaper to involve local people in trying to help desperate people who are fleeing bullets and bombs and starvation.
"It's something that in the context of the climate emergency we are going to see a lot more and it's great the wellbeing of refugees are uppermost in people's minds now."
Company moved to donate
WJ Aldiss was the first to respond to the EDP's appeal, donating £2,000 to the cause.
Darryl Simpson, managing director of the department stores in Fakenham and Norwich, said they were "shocked and moved" by the scenes being reported on the TV and in the media and many at the company asked how they could help.
On Friday, March 11, the company will also be donating £1 to the cause for every cup of coffee or tea served, and staff are also being encouraged to wear the colours of the Ukrainian flag or wear a sunflower to raise awareness of the crisis.
Mr Simpson said: "At Aldiss we pride ourselves on being a family and community business and as such we feel the need to help, however we can, when we see the suffering of families and communities in this part of Europe.
"We hope in our own way we are able to make a small but positive contribution to what is a vital cause."
How you can support
The DEC said £30 could provide essential hygiene supplies for three people for one month, £50 could provide blankets for four families and £100 could provide emergency food for two families for one month.
To support the EDP's appeal simply donate by visiting justgiving.com/fundraising/edp-ukraine and raise awareness by sharing it on social media platforms.
You could also hold a sponsored event to help raise funds Ukraine crisis by holding a bake sale, coffee morning, garage sale, walking or by taking part in a sport challenge such as cycling or running a marathon.
For more ideas visit justgiving.com/fundraise