As a devastating humanitarian crisis unfolds in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands are fleeing the war zone seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. This includes thousands of Indian nationals, mainly students, who are desperately trying to return to their homes.
It once again brought the global Indian diaspora efforts to the fore, including student groups as well as charity organisations such as BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and Sewa International, who have been working round the clock to do their bit in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. This has involved the distribution of food, coordinating evacuation logistics and relief and rescue efforts across the eastern European region.
Keyur Bhatt, a lead BAPS volunteer from London, said: “The situation in Ukraine is desperate and tragic. The priority is to support those seeking refuge by providing them with food and shelter. We are working closely with transport networks and logistical agencies to ensure the safe and timely delivery of essential services to those in need.
“Our volunteers are inspired by the ethos of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who personified the motto ‘In the joy of others lies our own’, and there has perhaps never been a more opportune moment to embody this selfless spirit of public service by providing the basic needs for those severely impacted by the conflict.”
The organisation, one of the largest and most active Hindu charities in the UK popularly known as Neasden Temple – after the iconic temple in London, has had volunteers from Britain, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria and Poland swiftly spring into action to support the emergency relief effort on the ground. This has included setting up a mobile field kitchen in the south-eastern Polish city of Rzeszów, which has been feeding around 1,000 hot vegetarian meals daily to refugees of all faiths and nationalities.
BAPS is also arranging accommodation and coordinating medical assistance, and says it is working closely with the Indian government as well as local partners to further expand the humanitarian efforts as the situation escalates.