Blake Lively and husband Ryan Reynolds have said they’ll match up to $1million (£745,711) in donations to the United Nations Refugee Agency to help support Ukrainian refugees affected by the ongoing conflict.
Ukraine officially severed diplomatic ties with Russia and declared martial law after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on the neighbouring nation on February 24. Many Ukrainians are now trying to escape the war zone as fighting continues.
Lively and Reynolds took to Twitter and urged their followers to donate to the UN charity. A post on the site reads: When you donate today, your compassionate gift will be matched by Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds — dollar for dollar. Double your impact to send lifesaving aid to Ukrainian families in need.”
.@VancityReynolds & I are doubling every $donated to @UNRefugeeAgency up to $1,000,000 click below if you can join us @UNRefugeeAgency is on the ground providing lifesaving aid, & working with neighboring countries to ensure protection for the 50,000+ who were just forced to flee https://t.co/EbmrMTDzxh
— Blake Lively (@blakelively) February 26, 2022
In 48 hours, countless Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes to neighboring countries. They need protection. When you donate, we’ll match it up to $1,000,000, creating double the support.⬇️ https://t.co/xCFL1Lptuw https://t.co/CHp48E1KLQ
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) February 26, 2022
Reynolds added: “In 48 hours, countless Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes to neighbouring countries.
“They need protection. When you donate, we’ll match it up to $1,000,000, creating double the support.”
Lively added: “@VancityReynolds & I are doubling every $ donated to @UNRefugeeAgency up to $1,000,000 click below if you can join us @UNRefugeeAgency is on the ground providing lifesaving aid, & working with neighbouring countries to ensure protection for the 50,000+ who were just forced to flee.”
198 Ukrainians – including three children – have been killed at the time of writing, according to Health Minister Viktor Liashko. A further 1,115 people have reportedly been wounded, including 33 children (via Al Jazeera). Russian authorities have not released casualty figures for their forces.
The actions of Putin, who has claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine and that his country’s actions amount to a “special military operation”, have drawn widespread condemnation from across the globe.
US President Joe Biden has pledged “severe” sanctions on Russia, saying in a statement that Ukraine is “suffering an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces” and that “Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering”.
Johnson said that the outbreak of conflict in the country was a “catastrophe for our continent”.
However, the UK as received fierce criticism yesterday (February 26) after it was revealed that it had failed to set up a direct refugee route for Ukrainian’s seeking asylum.
The UK has stopped accepting visa applications from Ukrainian’s stuck in the country, meaning there is now no safe nor legal route for them to find asylum in the UK unless they have British relatives (via The Independent).
Sharing a news article about the situation, Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds wrote: “The government is making it very difficult for Ukrainian refugees to take safe haven here in the UK, but it has always been glad to take Russian money & allow Russian oligarchs to buy British citizenship.”
He continued: “Support the wealthy[,] abandon the struggling” before adding “Tories are consistent at least.”
The Independent Rescue Committee urged states to support the refugee crisis publicly. Senior representative and former French minister Harlem Desir told The Independent: “This should not be looked at as another migration crisis. This is a crisis of war. It should not be business as usual, we need real support from the Ukrainian people.”
On the Home Office website, a post reads: “Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine (who aren’t immediate family members of British nationals normally living in the Ukraine, or where the British national is living in the UK), are currently unable to make visa applications to visit, work, study or join family in the UK.”
It went on to add that the UK visa application centre in Kiev is now closed and related services in the capital were also suspended. Dependents of British nationals can now only apply for a visa if they reach similar services in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova.
Despite offers of help relating to resettlement from other countries, the UK has not offered similar, with Priti Patel only announcing visa extensions for Ukrainians already in the UK.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “In terms of refugees, obviously it’s relatively early time at the moment. But we have provided support already to help at the border should we start to see a humanitarian crisis emerge, and obviously we are ready to deploy that.”
Meanwhile, Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks spoke out to say that her “heart was broken” over the situation and compared Putin to Hitler, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos paid tribute to the “open and welcoming” people of Kyiv, and Foals honoured the Ukrainian crew of their recent ‘2am video‘, while both Miley Cyrus and Yunblud were among the artists to issue statements of solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Ukraine, which has a population of 44million people, borders both Russia and the European Union. As the BBC reports, Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards embracing European institutions like NATO and the EU.
Putin is now demanding guarantees from the West and Ukraine that it will not join NATO, a defensive alliance of 30 countries, and that Ukraine demilitarise and become a neutral state.
You can donate here to the Red Cross to help those affected by the conflict, or via a number of other ways through Choose Love.