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Maritimers step up to help Ukrainian refugees displaced by war

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A Saint John woman has launched a Facebook page aimed at helping to coordinate efforts in Atlantic Canada to assist displaced Ukranians.

Carol Ailles started the online group called Atlantic Canada Hosts for Ukrainian Refugees in late March after she decided she needed to do something to help those who have had to flee their homes.

“We wanted to provide information,” says Ailles. “We have hosts that have opened their homes so that people can come and get started, the people are offering accommodation, they’re offering food, supplies, whatever they can do.”

The page has now grown to nearly 3,000 people. The goal is to be a hub to ask questions and find important information. Ailles says the purpose of the page can be boiled down to a single sentence.

“To get as many people out of danger, to a safe place,” she says.

“Everything is so confusing, they have to fill out all these papers, which are supposed to take two weeks, right now it’s at least taking a month and people are still not through the process … so our agenda is to get them out, and here.”

Ailles has opened her own home to Ukrainian refugees. She’s made two rooms in her house available, but they have not yet been occupied.

“I started out saying a mother with two children, but a single woman contacted me and so she is getting the single room – she is still waiting for her documents,” she says.

Ailles says the group is looking for corporate sponsors, gift certificates, and donations to arrange individual flights. They are also in need of cell phones and SIM cards, clean socks and underwear, and more.

While there are efforts underway to help refugees get to the Maritimes, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is now working to help those who are abroad, specifically its sister city in Poland, by raising money for refugees who are in Walbrzych.

“The city of Walbrzych has welcomed close to 4,000 Ukrainian refugees so far, 2,200 of them have registered officially with city hall,” says Tom Urbaniak, chair of the Twin City Steering Committee.

Urbaniak says they wanted to show solidarity with their sister city, so CBRM is helping to coordinate donations.

“So, folks can make donations to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality,” he says.

“Those are promptly transferred to a special fund that the city has set up to assist the refugees and to buy basic supplies – that’s how the money is being used."

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