As Russia continues their onslaught of Ukraine, we contacted our IEMA members there to offer them our support. In times of immediate crisis, it can be difficult to know how to act, do we drive across continents with vans of aid? Donate to a charity or sign up to take in a refugee family if we are able. I received this reply from Oleksandra, an IEMA member who has stayed – so far – in Kyiv. He wanted us to publish this message on his behalf:

“I’m happy to hear from IEMA and you directly. I stayed in Kyiv with my family. All this is a nightmare and the Russian invasion doesn’t fit the principles and values of the world of 21st century. 

Russian propaganda also tried to work. They plan to bring their ‘actors’ to the Ukrainian cities they captured to film the picture that people in Ukraine ask Russia to save them. This is all fake!! We didn’t ask Russia to save us! Ukrainians who left cities that Russian occupants bombed, all escaped to the west but not to Russia!

We lived in a peaceful country until Feb 24, 2022 (only Donetsk and Luhansk region were under the war - it was also started by Russia in 2014). And Russia invaded my country and they kill civilians, bomb residential buildings, they bomb schools, hospitals with children who try to fight cancer etc.

Currently, we ask the world to close the sky over Ukraine. We do understand that it will look like a direct conflict with Russia. But this may prevent them from bombing our cities and loss of civil people that currently at more than 2,000 lives since the war started. On our land, those that invade are not only the Russian people but also Belarus and Chechen under Russia's command. This list may expand.

You can help us by delivering this information to all your authorities. We see the world United, we are grateful for that, but we need more action from you because Russia won’t stop on Ukraine only.

P.s. yesterday my friend from Poltava told me that her teacher who was the first to teach her painting was killed.“

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the contributing individual, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

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Sarah Mukherjee MBE

Executive Director - CEO, IEMA

Sarah Mukherjee MBE is the CEO of IEMA. She was the BBC's Environment Correspondent for many years, presenting on national and international BBC radio and television news, working – and winning awards - across the world.