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War in Ukraine

Dear Colleague,

As President Michael Higgins stated in his recent St. Patrick’s Day message, a ‘dark shadow’ has been cast across the world, brought about by the ‘unfolding events in Ukraine’ – specifically Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine and all the death and destruction that has resulted. 

The IASW supports President Higgins’s call then for all of us to ‘stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and… unite our voices in demanding an immediate ceasefire, respect for humanitarian law, and the withdrawal of Russian troops.’ 

The IASW also stands particularly strongly in solidarity with our colleague social workers in Ukraine, as well as in the countries bordering Ukraine and who are receiving those who have fled for their lives from the war. 

A number of IASW members have been in contact with IASW Board members and Office staff over recent weeks, with a range of questions and suggestions in relation to the IASW response to the war in Ukraine. I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the actions we have taken in IASW.

At the IASW Board meeting last week, it was decided unanimously by the Board to donate €10,000.00 to IFSW (Europe) in response to a request from IFSW (Europe) for financial support. This fund is specifically assisting social workers in Ukraine and surrounding countries to help meet the immediate needs of people directly affected by the war and working with them to ‘to make hope for a positive change a reality.’

The following insert to this email is part of the text of the appeal made by IFSW (Global) Secretary-General, Rory Truell, on behalf of Ana Radulescu, President of IFSW (Europe) and to which IASW has responded:

CALL TO SUPPORT SOCIAL WORKERS!

 

#Social Work # Refugees #Ukraine

In Ukraine, almost everyone is on the run. Those who are most resourceful will get by on their own or with the help of others. Most of them will travel further alone after a first shelter. Thousands of mainly woman and children have fled the fighting in fear for their lives. Thousands more are likely to follow in the coming days and weeks. All are now suddenly refugees, often with few belongings and deeply traumatised by the terrible events inflicted upon them.

Many are sick and in need of urgent medical attention. Many are without documentation because of the speed of the terrible events.

Our social workers colleagues, in the countries having border with Ukraine, have responded directly to people affected. Social workers are working long hours in very difficult circumstances, at the border with the Ukraine to offer help to individuals and families.

To get to the border and to the camps, social workers and students in social work must travel long distances. Their work is voluntary. However, there are travel costs and accommodation.

Therefore, IFSW Europe decided to open a call for donation:

International Federation of Social Workers/ Europe

IFSW Europe

Name of the account: DBSH eV

IBAN: DE63 660 908 000 014 451 910

SWIFT-BIC: GENODE61BBB

One way that individual or groups of IASW members could provide practical help is by making donations to the above IFSW (Europe) fund, adding to that provided by IASW.

Other suggestions that have been made by members is to consider hosting refugees from Ukraine and particularly to offer to accommodate social workers or those studying social work. 

Other specific actions taken by IASW since the start of war in Ukraine, have included the following:

  • Chair wrote to DCEDIY Minister Roderic O’Gorman TD, and had contact with senior Departmental officials, in relation to the need for adequate safeguarding measures to be in place regarding the hosting of refugees in Ireland, and including practical suggestions in that respect.
  • IASW media statements in relation to need for Government bodies to ensure adequate child protection and welfare, as well as safeguarding more generally, for those arriving from Ukraine. 
  • Media statement on the issue of racism experienced by some people fleeing the war and denouncing such behaviour. This statement was included on the IFSW (Europe) website.
  • The above two media statements were carried in a number of outlets and also followed up by a number of others. 
  • IASW identified to DCEDIY – Government department coordinating the Community and Voluntary sector response - as link to social work profession via Association membership and expertise.
  • IASW Office compiled database of community-based organisations in Ireland, and sent to IFSW (Europe).
  • John Brennan in role as IFSW (Europe) Vice President, contributed to IFSW (Europe) webinar on Voices from the Border.
  • A number of members/social workers are of course directly involved in managing and delivering services to those arriving in Ireland from Ukraine. 

Information on Ireland’s Response to the crisis is available at the following Government webpage:

Irelands response to the situation in Ukraine

I am conscious that – tragically – the invasion of Ukraine by Russia shows no sign of ending any time soon. Either way, its tragic consequences will continue to be widely felt for many months and years to come. 

Many of you will have first-hand experiences of those consequences in the context of the organisations in which you work and the communities where you live, not to mention if you or family members or friends are already directly impacted by the war. 

In that context, our response as a profession, as well as a country, will need to be long-term. While IASW’s resources as an organisation are limited, it is heartening to hear members’ responses so far and to appreciate that we can make a positive impact.

We will all need to hold on to that hope, positivity, and resilience, as the conflict continues. In the longer term, and even after peace eventually comes, the enduring effects of this war will require a long-term response, in which social work and colleague professionals will all have a role to play.

In the meantime, as well as doing what we can to help, we will also continue to make relevant updates, resources, and other information available to you on our website. 

Yours sincerely,

Vivian Geiran

Chairperson, IASW