The Nippon Foundation to Send 105 Japanese Volunteers to Poland, Elsewhere to Support Ukrainians with Disabilities (2) [2022/05/09]
At the press conference on April 26 to announce that The Nippon Foundation would be providing humanitarian assistance to persons with disabilities from Ukraine, I said I was pleased that the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution on March 24 demanding civilian protection and humanitarian access in Ukraine with a clear mention of “persons with disabilities and older persons”−the point The Nippon Foundation suggested be included in the resolution in line with our goal of creating an inclusive society in which persons with all sorts of disabilities can live and work with dignity. The resolution received 140 votes in favor and five votes against while 38 countries abstained.
Mr. Ichiro Kabasawa, executive director of the foundation, was in Poland earlier in April to lay the groundwork for our assistance. He said Kraków, with a population of less than 800,000, has already taken in some 150,000 Ukrainians who have fled their homes, meaning one in five people living in the city are displaced from Ukraine and thus putting considerable pressure on the local community’s ability to give them access to housing and medical treatment.
I plan to go to Poland on May 25-26 after attending the 75th World Health Assembly−the WHO’s decision-making body−in Geneva, to see firsthand the situation surrounding displaced Ukrainians there and encourage other NGO and international partners to join in our efforts to support those with disabilities.
Out of our network of international partners with whom we have worked before, the foundation has asked former refugees in Macedonia to come to Poland to help prepare for accepting Ukrainians with disabilities. We will also work with Jagiellonian University in Kraków, the country’s oldest university established in 1364. For the last 35 years, the foundation has supported the university under the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) program for its MA and doctoral candidates.
“Our support to date has focused on women and children without disabilities, and we want to offer the same level of support to persons with disabilities. Due to the constantly changing situation there, we want to be flexible in pressing ahead with our aid plans,” I said at the press conference.
“We are dispatching Japanese students because we want them to experience first-hand working with a collection of NGOs from the international community. We believe having young people learn about the current situation in the international community through relief work is very important for Japan’s future.”
I sincerely hope that the foundation’s close partnership with Access Israel, Jagiellonian University, former Macedonian refugees and others will make a real difference in effectively helping Ukrainians with disabilities safely flee their country and live in peace until such time that they are able to return.
Our support for Ukrainians with disabilities is the second phase of the foundation’s assistance to Ukrainian people. On March 28, The Nippon Foundation announced humanitarian assistance totaling 5.08 billion yen (about $39 million) to help Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their homeland come to Japan−3.55 billion yen (about $27.3 million) earmarked for their travel and living expenses and 1.53 billion yen (about $11.7 million) for NGOs and other nonprofit organizations working to support their daily lives.