Making a donation to Unicef and the Irish Red Cross will immediately translate into warm soup, a bed and medicine for refugees fleeing Ukraine, according to Irish activist Adi Roche.
The chief executive of Chernobyl Children's Project International called on the Irish public to donate to the two aid organisations as the most effective way of “putting food in mouths” of refugees.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Ms Roche said that both organisations were already on the ground at the border which was “dangerous and chaotic,” where they were offering food, warmth and medical treatment.
The cost of sending supplies via truck would take time and incur transport costs, she said. Her own organisation had been inundated with calls, emails and texts from Irish people asking how they could help. “When you’re in the fog of war, it’s hard to know how to react immediately.”
People were wonderful to offer their help, said Ms Roche, and the best way to do that was through a donation to Unicef or the Red Cross who both had operations on the ground.
Ms Roche also expressed concern for staff at the paediatric unit funded by her organisation in Kharkiv. “We have been calling and texting non-stop but we can’t get through. We know the surgeons are still there, they sent their own children to Lviv.”
Her main concern was the exclusion zone at Chernobyl, she said, urging a no-fly zone over the old reactor. If a plane was shot down and crashed into it, the result would be catastrophic. “I’m calling for it to be a war-free zone.”
The Dáil could act as a peace broker so that Chernobyl was not held hostage in a battleground, Ms Roche said.
Experts on the ground who monitor radioactivity levels had told her there had been increased levels of radioactivity in the last few days, as heavy tanks and troop movements disturbed the soil and unearthed radioactive materials. Staff on site were being held hostage, she added. “What is the purpose of that?”
There would be “incalculable consequences” if anything went wrong at the reactor. “The place should remain untouched.”