Germany houses Ukrainians fleeing war; Europe faces largest humanitarian crisis since World War II

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey said: “We hope that the war in Ukraine will stop but we cannot see it. We have to prepare by giving people what they need, including accommodation, in this very hard situation.”

She added that while the city has “a big target” and is trying to handle the situation as best as it could, it has drawn clear lines, such as not using sports halls for refugees.

GROUND-UP CAMPAIGNS 

Apart from government efforts, campaigns by individuals are also making a difference.

Mr Sergej Sumlenny, director of the European Resilience Initiative Centre, spent years working in Ukraine with non-governmental organisations.

Seeing the vast needs of the country he once called home, Mr Sumlenny used the pre-Christmas period to raise almost US$14,000 through an online campaign.

He used the money to purchase rechargeable power units for people in Ukraine, so that they can be used by civilians to cook a hot meal and keep the lights on, even as the country goes through regular blackouts in the depths of winter. 

“I have a lot of friends in Ukraine. I have my former colleagues there. I know Ukraine well because I lived there and worked there for six years,” said Mr Sumlenny.

Speaking to CNA before he set off on an 18-hour solo train journey from Berlin to Kyiv to personally deliver the devices, he said he was “not anxious” about swapping the safety of the German capital for a conflict zone.