Bay Area non-profits worry Russia might be targeting humanitarian aid workers

A Bay Area non-profit providing humanitarian relief to Ukraine says one of their crews was attacked in Ukraine while trying to make a delivery.

"The security concern is huge," said Ostap Korkuna, director of the Palo-Alto based humanitarian aid group called Nova Ukraine, which has collected about $8-million dollars in donations.

Korkuna says one of their vans was recently attacked and destroyed while making a delivery run. The aid workers survived, but Korkuna says the organization has been taking steps to keep their operations secure and prevent Russian forces from targeting workers.

"We never share any photos of those people in our reports. We never share any locations, specific locations because of security concerns. This is real," said Korkuna.

The Russian bombings of civilian sites such as hospitals and the theater in the southern city of Mariupol that was serving as a shelter as well as hospitals and other civilian shelters, raise concerns that Russian forces may be using information publicly posted online and on social media to target aid workers.

The World Health Organization told the United Nations Thursday that it has verified 43 Russian attacks on hospitals and warned that WHO supply convoys of humanitarian medical supplies have been blocked.

"Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General in his statement to the UN.

"The Russians started almost from day one going after civilians and specifically collecting information from the web," said James Hodson, CEO of the non-profit AI For Good Foundation based in the Bay Area, "Pointing bombs at hospitals, at medical centers, at grain stores that were specifically listed where people could go and get help."

Hodson says that's why the AI For Good Foundation is partnering with other non-profits and Amazon Web Services to launch a mobile app with built-in privacy and security checks to help people locate services and supplies within Ukraine and get emergency help when needed.

"The application will let them send a beacon for help," said Hodson, "Rather than having to call, explain and give location, that is stored in the app and we're able to access that."

AI For Good plans to hire more workers to provide on-the-ground support in Ukrainian cities and have the app up and running in Ukraine next month so aid workers can have a more secure way to communicate with people in need.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or