Registered Charity -
Founder Director: Rev. Tony Budell. Director: Philip Edmonds. Accounts: Valerie Budell.
British Humanitarian Aid (BHA) actively seeks monetary and material donations in order to ease the suffering in Chernihiv Region, Ukraine, where the collapse of the economy in 2014 and the huge refugee problem, caused by the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the war in the Eastern States, have led to an impoverishment of individuals and families, with which the local authorities are ill equipped to cope. We work throughout the huge region wherever we find positive people who care about their communities.
“Why are you taking aid to Ukraine?”
Recently, on several occasions, we have been asked just this. For some reason the problems of Ukraine are not news in the UK. Apparently 1.6 million “internally displaced persons” are not news. Nor are the 14,000 who have arrived in Chernihiv Oblast seeking sanctuary. Despite a supposed cease fire, Ukrainian forces have lost over 2500 combatants with a further 8000 plus injured. Many civilians have also died. This war has also had the effect of forcing the economy into a complete meltdown with the currency being devalued by 70% in late 2014.
Chernihiv was once a state of real significance, second only to Kiev during the “Middle Ages”. It may be rich in history but these days, it is one of the poorest in Ukraine. It is without major industries and many areas have really poor soil that limits the opportunities for profitable farming. Its position, right up in the North of Ukraine is also a handicap as it is not on any major transport routes, especially now that trade with Russia has virtually ceased.
The rural communities which still draw their water from wells, suffer an unreliable electricity supply in winter and have no gas supplies have a tough life, especially as their climate can be really severe. To a point, they may be slightly better off than those in the cities as they can at least grow some food and keep animals but the chances of any regular work are very limited. In December 2016, the minimum wage for those fortunate enough to have work was 1600 hrivnas per month, about £50. This is roughly the cost of the “utilities” for a single bedroom apartment in the city, while the rent is double it.
The refugees for the most part arrive by bus, and a family of mother, two children and two grandparents often arrive with their entire belongings in a couple of laundry bags. The flats they are allocated are usually unfurnished and any financial help is derisory.
The organisations that we support throughout the region are often embarrassingly grateful for what little support we are able to give, as no one else gives any!