Dear friends of UNITED,

On the 24th of February, the people of Ukraine and Europe woke up to military aggression and an invasion by the Russian Federation. UNITED was among the first asking again for peace and diplomatic solutions. Unfortunately, the military actions increased. Since the invasion, around 4 million people have left Ukraine and tens of thousands have perished. Human rights are being violated every day.

It is hard to express in words how we feel about the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. We are based nearby, in Budapest, Hungary, and we took up direct action in Budapest and tried to help. UNITED is a network with many organizations, including organisations from Ukraine and Russia and we immediately asked what we could do directly and publicly. The organisations asked for more and clear information and called out for international solidarity. They raised the concern that their work and lives are in danger.

In Ukraine, people fear for their lives. Many have fled and some stayed to directly help the resistance. In Russia, protesting against the war, which many people in our network did immediately, is banned and prosecuted by law… It is not likely that much can be done to steer the leaders of the country back to a peaceful solution. We are hoping this will end soon and with a resolution that is a compromise and not a total defeat, as even if a side wins a war, too much might be lost to find back a humane path.

Although now everyone sanctions Russia and the Russian people, we feel they are a part of Europe and we have to be ready to make peace with the people. We should judge the ruler, not the ruled. 

Today, it is the 21st of March, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Within this conflict, we have also seen various issues connected to racism. Roma refugees and refugees of colour are being attacked, segregated and mistreated. It is vital we speak up against that. It is also vital that we acknowledge that while Europe - rightfully - welcomes the Ukrainian refugees, people are still drowning in the Mediterranean sea, and dying at the borders of Fortress Europe. All refugees deserve help, deserve a place to be safe, deserve support. All refugees have a right to life. 

With our campaign around the 21st of March, we encourage showing compassion and solidarity for others. Last month, we announced our theme as #ShowYourHeart: wearing your heart on your sleeve: display your anti-racism activity like a badge of honour. Little did we know just how timely this theme was to prove, only a few short days later.

In the past few weeks, we have seen how the people of Europe have come together in solidarity: taking in refugees, donating money, collecting clothes and other necessary items, and speaking out against the war. This is a ray of light in a time of darkness: thank you all for your support. 

If you wish for more information, we have collected various resources about what you can do to help. Below is a collection of links that cover a variety of topics: livelihood, housing, fundraising, immigration information, and more. It has been heartening to see the European community come together to help out neighbours.

Thank you all for your support, and please, keep up the work. 

Above all - remember to microvolunteer, where and when you can. Microvolunteer, micro-campaign, do a random act of kindness and take a picture of it with the hashtag #ShowYourHeart - and don't forget to tag us, whether on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Thank you all. May the times improve. Stay strong!

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