Bay Area aid in Ukraine faces delivery challenges
OAKLAND, Calif. - The Russian attack on Lviv in Western Ukraine Monday comes just as humanitarian aid from the Bay Area arrived in the city last week.
Supplies donated to the group Hearts from Ukraine arrived from San Jose April 12th and included more than 130 boxes of food, hygiene products, and medical supplies that were immediately sent to orphanages and hospitals that had requested the items.
"We were donated $150,000 worth of lidocaine by Bay Area doctors dentistry group," said Eugene Tarasov, founder of Hearts For Ukraine, who says the Ukrainian recipients were grateful for the items they desperately needed.
Aid groups are finding a big problem delivering the goods, however, with the lack of safe humanitarian corridors.
"It was an orphanage there of 11,000 children and while we were in route, that city got occupied by Russian forces. It was no longer accessible," said Tarasov.
Tarasov says talking with one partner in Ukraine Monday, there was a sudden attack that is becoming too common for those humanitarian aid workers who are risking their lives.
"Today all of a sudden she said oh there's a siren, we need to go. They know they need to run to the basement, they need to hide because bombs are starting to come in," said Tarasov.
United Nations Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths who serves as U.N. Chief of Humanitarian Aid called for an immediate and sustained ceasefire Monday in order to establish safe corridors to get aid into the war zones and evacuate civilians.
"You need at least a three-day window to enable proper, safe evacuations. As yet, we have not go agreement on that from the Russia side," said Griffiths.
THe UN says Russian attacks on civilian targets have caused severe harm and Russia's destruction of hospitals has made treating the wounded even more difficult.
"The WHO says they have endured 136 attacks on health care facilities, said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General, "More than one in four people in Ukraine have now been displaced and that adds up to about 12 million men, women and children."
The Bay Area aid group Nova Ukraine says the devastation of hospitals has created desperate need for medical equipment.
"MRI, computer tomography, ultrasound, just to see where the shrapnel is to treat the wounds...you can imagine how critical these machines are," said Igor Markov, a Nova Ukraine spokesman.
Markov says as the fighting escalates, the humanitarian workers are ready to help but are in greater danger than ever.
"Seven drivers disappeared. They left delivering aid and they have not heard from them since then. This was a few days ago," said Markov.
Donations to Nova Ukraine have been coming in from corporations and big donors such as Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, but Markov says there are ongoing concerns about donor fatigue. Aid groups hope people will continue to support Ukrainians as they wait for a ceasefire.
"If the corridors are open both ways, it is possible to come in and take people out, then you know, there are people and there are minivans ready to do that," said Markov.
United Nations officials plan to meet with Turkey's president this week about hosting humanitarian talks between Russia and Ukraine as soon as possible.