Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be one of the small boat captains who made such a difference at Dunkirk? To do a small thing that was part of something vastly bigger than yourself? To do something that makes a difference?
On Thursday morning I Skype chatted my colleague in Kyiv, Ukraine to discuss a mundane task we are working on. “Are you free”. His reply “No, running West with my family, Russia attacked” was my first knowledge that Putin was deploying Blitzkrieg tactics against the people of democratic European nation of Ukraine. By now tens of thousands of Ukrainians are stranded at the Western Border adjacent to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldovia. Unlike Dunkirk, this 21st Version is not soldiers fleeing West from an aggressive force, it is families, men, women and children, with modern jobs of doctors, nurses, teachers and IT professionals. The spirit of Dunkirk calls us to them.
I have Skype chatted with two colleagues, both IT professionals in Western Ukraine. They are refugees, and they continue to work, even as they plan the next steps for their families and their colleagues. They are you. Imagine giving yourself two hours to pack your life into your car knowing you might never see your home again and then running ten hours to the west in your car. This is not them, this is you.
They believe they cannot come to Europe because they do not have Visas. The ever amazing Amanda Burgauer solved that for me. Thankfully Ireland is showing leadership and has removed the requirement for a visa. Once they are processed in Ireland, they are in the Schengan area and can travel anywhere in Europe, or anywhere in the UK under the Common Travel Area agreement. We need to get these families from the beaches of Dunkirk in Ukraine to Europe. Perhaps the airlines in UK who cannot fly to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine could use those planes instead to shuttle people to Ireland from the airports near Ukraine’s western borders? update – Relocation options for Ukrainians. https://bit.ly/3ss0UcU
Very quickly Ireland will be overwhelmed with refugees. And that is where we come in with our little boats at Dunkirk. Last night my partner turned to me and said “Your colleagues should come here. We have a spare room they can use.” Do you have a spare room? Do you have an empty holiday let? Reach out to friends, family and colleagues via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and let them know #IHaveASpareRoom. Don’t rely on the governments as they will be overwhelmed. Reach out to friends, and friends of friends as it is much safer than dealing with strangers. These fellow Europeans of ours do not need our help long term, they are people who are coming here with their own jobs that they can continue remotely. They just need somewhere to stay now that Putin has stolen their home. They will soon be back on their feet in a new home.
If Putin takes control of Ukraine, he will no doubt take control of its banking system, depriving Ukraine’s citizens access to their bank accounts and financial assets just at the time that they need them the most. Hopefully the European retail banks can respond quickly to this crisis and provide the Ukraine’s citizens with a way to transfer their accounts out of Putin’s control.