According to United Nations estimates, more than 500,000 people have escaped to neighboring countries Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Moldova, The Associated Press reported Monday.
David Barton, the American historian and speaker, tells AFN he is working with Glenn Beck’s charity group Mercury One and its Nazarene Fund to help the refugees as they arrive on safer ground.
“A lot of those fleeing have very little or nothing,” he advises. “No income, no money. So where do they get food?”
Last fall, Barton and Nazarene Fund were involved in the frantic rescue of stranded Americans and Afghan allies in Afghanistan. That happened when the Taliban overtook Kabul and the world witnessed the bungled evacuation at the city’s surrounded airport.
In the current Ukraine crisis, Barton says Nazarene Fund is facing a situation that is both familiar and different, too. The frantic urgency for help is the same, he observes, but the infrastructure is not there across the European country to copy Kabul's successful missions.
“We don't have the capacity to, for example, be able to take planes and get them out of the airport,” Barton explains.
Matt Herring, speaking for civilian-led Project Dynamo, which also rescued people in Afghanistan, is currently helping people stranded in Ukraine. Twenty-four people were pulled out in a day, he tells AFN, and nine more the following morning.
“In the last 24 hours, we have built a backlog of about 1,000 people that have gone on to our website and asked for help,” Herring, who co-founded the organization, says. "So there's a lot more in front of us than there is behind us.”
In the first hours of the war, when the first artillery shells were hitting, U.S.-based Project Dynamo ramped up its operation in Ukraine. The group used a bus to take 23 evacuees into a safe neighboring country during the first days of the Russian invasion.
According to Barton, what is similar to the Afghan withdrawal six months ago is the innocent people who fled the ruthless Taliban. People are now fleeing from Vladimir Putin.
“The same willingness to kill. The same willingness to come in and destroy people,” Barton says. “We're seeing the same kind of the spirit of the world behind this.”