Bay Area nonprofit plays key role as Ukraine evacuation efforts escalate

Tara Campbell Image
Monday, July 11, 2022
Bay Area plays key role in Ukraine evacuation efforts
In the Bay Area, a local nonprofit Nova Ukraine is helping to fund Ukrainian evacuation missions, providing everything from fuel to vehicles.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Russian missiles killed at 15 people Sunday, striking an apartment building in Eastern Ukraine.

TAKE ACTION: Local and national support for people in Ukraine

"It's unexpected circumstances and you never know where the airstrike could come from," said Alex Voronin, director of Help People, a nonprofit in Ukraine working to evacuate people.

"We're all a little bit crazy and the drivers especially, I call them angels, our angels," he said. "Every day they go into that location, they may not come back."

At times, they are a target with some of their vehicles being hit by artillery, and a passenger was recently killed. "It is something that is happening during the war, but we ascertain that one driver saved hundreds of lives and they understand that," said Voronin.

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Their efforts are often on evacuating some of the most vulnerable. "There is still a large amount of elderly, people with conditions, and limited abilities that are waiting and praying for the last chance," he explained.

Back in the Bay Area, a local nonprofit is helping to fund these evacuation missions, providing everything from fuel to vehicles.

"We funded mostly gasoline, paid for drivers, pay for repair, in some cases we funded replacement vehicles after vehicles were destroyed," said Igor Markov, director of Nova Ukraine, which most recently paid for a mobile fuel tank.

"This will decrease the cost of fuel. This will allow them to refuel without waiting because sometimes at gas stations there are long lines, and it will allow them to refuel at night," said Markov, noting they will need all the help they can get. "Now the front lines are approaching a couple of large cities, and Ukraine is determined to occupy those territories, which would require fighting."

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The drivers at Help People are heading right into Russian-occupied territories. "Basically where the Russian army and soldiers are and we're passing through the points and getting people out from the cities," said Voronin

They're trying to bring people to safety before the fighting begins. "Every time I speak with our drivers, I ask them one question: 'Why are you doing this?' And, they're saying once you get the young kid in your hand and out - this is all you need and you understand this is something you have to do."

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