The Nippon Foundation to Send 105 Japanese Volunteers to Poland, Elsewhere to Support Ukrainians with Disabilities (1) [2022/05/06]
Speaking at a press conference on April 26 to announce The Nippon Foundation’s decision to dispatch 105 Japanese student volunteers to support Ukrainians with disabilities who have evacuated to Poland and other neighboring countries.
The continued Russian military attacks against Ukraine have forced more than 5 million Ukrainians to cross borders into neighboring countries and displaced 7 million more inside the country, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The escalation of the conflict has also left the lives of an estimated 2.7 million Ukrainian persons with disabilities “extremely vulnerable and at grave risk of harm,” warned the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adding: “Many people with disabilities, including children, are trapped or abandoned in their homes, residential care institutions and orphanages, with no access to life-sustaining medications, oxygen supplies, food, water, sanitation, support for daily living and other basic facilities.”
To help these Ukrainians with disabilities, I announced at a press conference on April 26 that The Nippon Foundation will provide humanitarian assistance based on the following two pillars:
First, the foundation will provide Access Israel, an Israeli NGO, with about 290 million yen (about $2.23 million) to support its activities to help Ukrainians with disabilities who have not been able to flee their war-torn homeland.
Arrangements are being made for 10 vehicles to be used by Access Israel for evacuation of persons with disabilities from Ukraine. We will also send medications, clothes and other daily necessities to those with disabilities who cannot physically flee their country.
Furthermore, we will provide temporary shelter and support for daily living for Ukrainians with disabilities who have evacuated to neighboring countries including Poland, Romania, Austria, Moldova, and Slovakia.
Access Israel, which currently has a staff of about 120, was established in 1999 in Israel, a country that has experienced many years of conflict, as an NGO dedicated to promoting accessibility for and inclusion of people with disabilities and the elderly.
Second, the foundation will dispatch 105 Japanese student volunteers to countries neighboring Ukraine to support Ukrainians with disabilities who have fled their country, through distribution of medical supplies, food and other items, management of relief supplies, and dissemination of information.
The volunteers will initially be based in Kraków, Poland, and possibly in Vienna, Austria, and other locations with large numbers of Ukrainian evacuees. They will be sent in seven groups, each consisting of 15 volunteers, for about two weeks each between now and October. The first group is set to leave for Poland on May 30 and come back on June 16 (tentative).
But none of the volunteers will enter Ukraine in accordance with the advisory of the Japanese Foreign Ministry which has raised its travel alert for the European country to the highest level 4, urging all Japanese nationals to avoid traveling there “regardless of purpose.”
The foundation has earmarked about 120 million yen (about $900,000) for their traveling and accommodation expenses.
Our partner organization, the Nippon Foundation Volunteer Center, has started accepting applications for the volunteer mission. Applicants must be Japanese students aged 18 and above, Japanese passport holders and persons able to communicate sufficiently in English. I hope as many Japanese students as possible will apply.
(To be continued)