Generous Scots raise more than £1million to help Ukrainian refugees

A major aid charity has revealed how generous Scots have made a massive contribution to helping refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

More than £1million has been raised by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) amid a huge wave of sympathy for those affected by the bloody conflict.

SCIAF revealed the milestone was reached yesterday – and an added £500,000 has also been put into the appeal by the Scottish Government.

As our pictures show, this cash is now being converted into medical supplies, nappies, bedding, sanitary products and other vital supplies on the front line in Ukraine and on its borders, where exhausted refugees start to face up to their trauma.

SCIAF’s chief executive Alistair Dutton said the generosity from Scots was overwhelming and that every penny would be put to good use.

Cellars and halls in quiet towns are being used as makeshift dormitories, serviced by provisions funded by Scottish donations

He said: “People in Scotland have been enormously generous, as ever, as they’ve been really touched by the war in Ukraine.

“We’ve raised a million pounds in just a few weeks from individuals in Scotland.

“And then on top of that, we’ve also received half a million from the Scottish Government, so we’ve raised over £1.5million between those two sources. We are providing the things most needed as the country gets more and more damaged by war.

“The money raised in Scotland is going straight into Ukraine, towards providing hot meals, hot drink and water, all being handled by our close partners in the country.”

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The donations are being channeled to Caritas, a charitable confederation of more than 160 members, including SCIAF, working at the grassroots in almost every country of the world.

A mum and child, desperately in need of help

Dutton said: “Much of the work is being done by using the foundations of buildings as HQ.

“There are creches underground and the efforts will come to the surface when safe to do so then get back to the
foundations for safety at night.

“Volunteers are handing out clothes, food, water and bedding, really looking after those immediate basic needs
of people.

“And as well as the direct work in Ukraine cities, we are working with Caritas in Poland, Moldova and Romania, providing support to people as they managed to get out of Ukraine.

“That starts with reception centers at the border crossings where people are traumatized, given what they’ve been through.

Hot meals being prepared in Boryslav

“They will get a hot meal and a hot drink inside them and then start to plan where they can go next. Most of them still want to stay around the border, because they’re still thinking of going home.

“That’s where they want to be. But others are then moving on to find sanctuary elsewhere.”

Dutton said the shocked refugees display patterns of behavior that are now well documented.

He said: “Immediately, people tend to be in shock and in denial and talking about going back home very quickly.

“The next thing is to feel a bit hopeless, and then they talk about not being able to go back. And the truth will be somewhere between the two.

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“And they kind of oscillate between those as it goes.” He said it is very difficult, even for connected agencies, to fully comprehend the damage being done – and assess if cities like Mariupol will exist after the intense bombing.

He said: “With war we get a narrow view via the media. It’s almost impossible to tell from media reports how complete the damage in Mariupol is.

A young mum gets vital help from Caritas in Ukraine – where Scottish donations are being channeled

“It seems quite similar to Syria and it may be that some areas are bombed to smithereens but if you get a few blocks away, it may not be as badly affected. But we simply don’t know.

“Whatever, it’s going to need a massive demolition job and rebuilding.”

Dutton said Scots had started donating to Ukraine even before SCIAF launched its appeal. He said: “The phones were ringing off the hook before we launched the appeal, as soon as the first missiles were fired.

“And we had a very high level of online donations.

“And then there have been collections in many of the parishes and in schools as well. We’ve been getting more than £30,000 a day and that’s been sustained for several weeks.”

Hot food and drinks supplied at a Caritas border post

The response to the Ukraine conflict is extraordinary, as wars tend to attract fewer donations than natural disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti and the tsunami of 2004, where human kindness goes off the scale.

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Dutton said: “Conflicts are always more difficult, because there’s always a question of guilt and who’s fighting who and what for. I think with this one, though, it’s in Europe and the aggression from Russia is just so unreasonable.”

The million pound mark was reached despite SCIAF being locked out of the UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which benefits from the UK Government doubling donations.

Dutton said: “We’re not allowed to be a member of the DEC because we’re only in Scotland. So our footprint isn’t big enough to qualify, sadly.”

The DEC campaign for Ukraine has already reached £350million and it is thought it could hit a billion pounds – making it the biggest in history.

The emotional pull of one big cause can result in a depletion in other crucial fundraising efforts. Many other world nations are in a state of crisis, with 800 million going to bed hungry and others facing civil wars, floods and other natural disasters.

Dutton said: “Sadly, our Wee Box campaign, which runs around now, has been affected, as people tend to give what they can and Ukraine has stretched them.

“It’s a delicate thing because there’s no way you could criticize anyone who goes out of their way to make a charitable donation.

“But every penny given for the Ukraine must go to the Ukraine.

“It’s difficult to weigh up where the need is greatest and that’s for individuals but there are decisions that people can make that will allow their contribution to be channeled to different causes.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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