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From Afghan refugee to Ukraine aid worker — Global Issues

Having previously endured conflict in Afghanistan, Ali comprehended the far-reaching implications of large-scale military actions on the lives of civilians.

Immediately after the start of the Ukraine war, Ali and his wife, the owners of a small clothing store in Odessa, began to engage in relief work and donate clothes to people who had been forced to flee their homes due to the conflict,

He told UN News about his work for The Tenth of April relief organization which works alongside the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, in Ukraine.

UNHCR is assisting people whose apartments were damaged by a deadly night blast in Odessa, Ukraine.

© UNHCR/Victoria Andrievska

‘More concerned about war in Ukraine’

“Twenty-four years ago, my parents took me and my brother and sister and moved from Afghanistan, fleeing war and persecution. This country became our new home.

We are more concerned and worried about the situation in Ukraine than in Afghanistan, and we are trying to help as much as we can.

At such a moment, when the country desperately needs help, it is necessary to get involved, to do something good.

Now I work a lot with people who suffer from shelling in Odessa oblast. We distribute humanitarian aid, which is extremely necessary for the affected people.

With each passing day, we see an increasing number of people seeking assistance.

I can speak a number of languages, so I am able to work with The Tenth of April to aid refugees and asylum seekers who had earlier fled to Ukraine to seek protection. I am now engaged as a social worker and logistician.

Frontline destruction

What is happening in the villages near the frontline is simply terrible. Everything is broken there, Houses are destroyed. People barely survive there.

Gratitude in people’s eyes inspires me the most. Because of it, I forget about tiredness. A girl, an internally displace person from a family from Kherson, once gave me a yellow-blue ribbon, which she made herself, and it touched me very much. Such moments are unforgettable.

Staff members of this organization supported my family when we were asylum seekers in Ukraine, I saw how committed they were to their work.

My wife and 15-year-old son do not want to leave Ukraine and are trying to help however they can.

Recently, during the distribution of construction materials among the residents of the house that was damaged during the shelling in Odessa, my son went to the distribution and helped unload, and he was with me until night.

Today, among my colleagues are internally displaced people from Kherson, from Mykolaiv. I see that they put their heart into everything they do, and this inspires me to work as best as possible and do more.”

How UNHCR is helping Ukrainians

  • The UN estimates that 18 million people will need humanitarian assistance this year.
  • Humanitarian needs are particularly acute for internally displaced persons who have been away from home for a long time and for those who have remained in frontline areas during the war.
  • The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, cooperates with 29 partner organizations, such as The Tenth of April, to help people in need throughout Ukraine.
  • With the support of its donors, UNHCR aims to help 3.6 million people in Ukraine in 2023.

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