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UKRAINE

How people in Austria can help Ukraine

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has left many people facing war in their hometown, and hundreds of thousands of others have become refugees overnight. There are ways to give concrete help from Austria.

How people in Austria can help Ukraine
You can help Ukraine by showing solidarity, by donating money, time or needed items. Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP

When considering making a donation or lending a hand, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Before you think about what to donate, take a look at what is needed. Most organisations publish lists of the items or type of support they need or share these via volunteers, and these needs may change over time, so you should check these to make sure your help is effective.

If you’re giving material donations, organise them as best you can to help save volunteers time on logistics – for example by using separate, labelled bags for clothing for different ages, for medicines, and food. Make sure you aren’t donating food that’s past its best before date or clothing which is soiled or unsuitable for the season.

This list includes some of the well-established organisations and charities in Austria and further afield, which have long been working with people in Ukraine and/or with refugees arriving to Austria. There may also be people in your local area who are working directly and independently to support refugees.

If you give money to an individual claiming to be helping, do what you can to verify they are legitimate, because unfortunately scammers may take advantage of a crisis. Austria’s Interior Ministry advises against bringing supplies to the borders of Ukraine or into Ukraine yourself, instead recommending making donations to recognised aid organisations to ensure the items that are actually needed get there.

International and Austria-wide organisations

Supporting Ukrainian media: Reporters and journalists on the ground in Ukraine are working under extreme condition to keep their population and the world updated on the war.

Several media partners and media support organisations across Europe have organised a fundraiser on GoFundMe to support the country’s independent media, and you can also donate directly to independent news organisation the Kyiv Independent.

Two Austrian charities with long-standing work in Ukraine are Volkshilfe and Nachbar in Not.

Voices of Children is a Ukrainian organisation which supports children affected by war, in particular through psychological support.

The charity Caritas is distributing food and fuel supplies, and a €25 donation provides an emergency aid package.

The Red Cross is also supporting people in Ukraine with much-needed supplies and you can send a donation.

SOS Kinderdorf has been active in the region for over 20 years giving support for children.

And the NGO Doctors Without Borders has an Austrian branch, where you can donate to support their efforts in Ukraine.

Host a displaced person from Ukraine

The war has turned hundreds of thousands of people into refugees overnight, and one way to help is to offer accommodation if you can. 

The Elinor network as well as Facebook groups such as Host a Sister (international) and the German-language group Wohnraum für die flüchtende Ukrainer*innen/ житло для бiжинцiв з Украïни have been used to find accommodation for displaced people, as well as Austrian Facebook groups for international residents.

However, in Austria, there is now a nationwide coordination centre which you can email at [email protected] to indicate that you have space. If you host a refugee, ask Austrian authorities about information you can give them about the process for registration in Austria.

It might be crucial for them to be registered as a refugee in order to receive necessary help, including medical care, and avoid them falling through any bureaucratic gaps.

Vienna

Train of Hope – organisation supporting refugees in Austria and asking for donations. On their Facebook page they are asking for donations to provide accommodation for refugees, which is being provided at cost price by a Vienna hotel.

St Barbara’s Church, a Ukrainian church in central Vienna, is also collecting donations. There is currently no information on their website about the collection, but volunteers on the site are collecting a range of items including medicines and food.

Salzburg

Salzburg’s Polish Cultural Association has been coordinating donations to be sent to Austria’s border with Poland, with updated regularly shared on their social media platforms.

The organisation Flüchtlinge – Willkommen in Salzburg is also sharing updates on how you can help in the city.

Graz

The Ukrainischer Kulturverein in Graz (Ukrainian Cultural Association) has organised an anti-war demonstration in the city and is collecting donations.

Join demonstrations to show your support

Demonstrations in solidarity with Ukraine are being held across the country, and these are a way to show your local Ukrainian community that they have support (and people in Ukraine, since the reports of international demonstrations will reach them too), as well as to put pressure on Austrian lawmakers to continue doing what they can to support Ukrainians.

What is The Local doing?

In the wake of Russia’s invasion, accurate information is more important than ever. But journalists working in the country are facing unprecedented challenges. 

As a result, media partners across Europe are joining forces to give Ukrainian outlets all the financial, operational and technical support they need at a very difficult time. 

The Local is convinced that this solidarity with Ukraine is not just right but crucial, and thanks to the support of our members we are happy to be able to make a €20,000 donation to the fundraiser.

If you would like to know more about efforts to help Ukrainian media – or want to help out yourself – please check out the following link. 

READ MORE: How you can help Ukrainian media 

Fact-checking and raising awareness

Alongside actively supporting the victims of the violence and displacement, one way everyone can help is by being a responsible user of social media. Try to verify the source of any information you share and avoid sharing unconfirmed reports. The Ukrainian government has asked everyone to avoid sharing photos or videos showing Ukrainian troops to avoid revealing their location.

By sharing verified information about the war and the ways that people can help from Austria and/or other places where you have ties to, you can help raise awareness. 

Anything we’ve missed?

If you’re organising aid for Ukraine or think we’ve missed something important in this article, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

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UKRAINE

REVEALED: What is Austria’s emergency plan if Russia cuts gas supply?

Amid fears about what would happen if gas supplies to Austria were disrupted, the Federal Government has put together a package of measures to create a strategic gas reserve.

REVEALED: What is Austria's emergency plan if Russia cuts gas supply?

It has been well reported that Austria is heavily reliant on Russian natural gas – but what would happen if supplies were suspended or stopped altogether?

Austria sources 80 percent of its gas from Russia, so the country would be seriously impacted if supplies were disrupted due to the war in Ukraine, a breakdown of diplomatic relations or any other unforeseen event. 

This is why the Federal Government has now unveiled a package of measures to protect Austria’s gas reserves in the event of an energy emergency.

READ MORE: ‘An unprecedented situation’: How would a gas embargo impact Austria?

What is in the package?

Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler and Finance Minister Magnus Brunner presented the plans following a meeting in the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, May 18th.

The most important points include an increase of the strategic gas reserve by 7.4 terawatt hours (TWh) to 20 TWh. This would cover Austria’s gas consumption for two winter months but the additional gas would not be sourced from Russia, according to the Kronen Zeitung

Gewessler said: “This measure will significantly reduce dependence on Russian gas.”

Increasing the strategic reserve with non-Russian supplies will reduce Austria’s dependence on Russian gas to 70 percent, Gewessler added.

Additionally, gas storage facilities located in Austria – such as the Haidach facility in Salzburg – must be connected to the Austrian gas grid. Haidach, which is supplied by Gasprom, is currently only connected to Germany’s pipeline network and has not been refilled for some time.

Finally, any unused gas in company storage facilities should be surrendered to the government if needed. Companies will be financially compensated for this.

READ ALSO: Austrian Economy Minister says gas embargo would be ‘red line’

What about next winter?

Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer has already said that gas storage facilities in Austria have to be 80 percent full before the next autumn and winter season.

The storage level is currently at 26 percent, reports Der Standard.

Gewessler also appealed to the Austrian public to make changes to help reduce the dependence on gas for energy, calling for more gas boilers to be replaced with other heating systems.

She said: “Together we are strong and together we can achieve this feat.”

READ MORE: What would an embargo on Russian oil mean for Austria?

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