Speech of the international secretary at the ETUCE Committee meeting
Unfortunately, for my country already for more than a month – mornings are not good. And I’m here to speak on behalf of all Ukrainian educators, all Ukrainians.
It's been a month of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion. It's been a month of our defense against attempts to destroy our country. It’s not a military operation as Russia states, it’s a large-scale violent bloody war on our territory aimed at destroying our families, our cities, our nation!
During this month of war, Russia fired more than a thousand two hundred different missiles on our cities. Hundreds of air raids have been carried out. They destroy everything they can reach – from schools to churches, from bridges to hospitals.
It is extremely difficult to assess the impact of the war on the education sector, especially due to the unpredictability of further developments and problems with the collection of information. All the educational processes stopped on 24 February. On March 14, in 8 regions of Ukraine where the situation is more or less safe, the educational process was resumed online.
Despite the fact that the invaders continue to claim that they target exclusively military facilities, about 500 educational institutions have been damaged, 78 schools were completely destroyed by bombing and shelling.
Yesterday It was reported that thousands of civilians including 140 children were killed, but today they are 148.
220 children have been wounded. The exact figures will certainly be much higher, because of the situation in almost obliterated cities like besieged Mariupol where thousands of people died under buildings destroyed by russian troops. Teachers are being killed only because they are teachers. It’s a real genocide of Ukrainians.
It is scary to hear these stories, but all this is happening now, and people are going through it now, at this very moment, when I’m speaking to you.
After this nightmare I can’t really imagine what psychological wounds caused by Russian barbarities our children will have. Russian soldiers kill parents in front of their children, rape their mothers in front of them. Thousands of people and children have already been taken out of Mariupol to russian territory illegally against their will. It’s an act of kidnapping by the state, all these are crimes against humanity.
Because of the hostilities thousands of people have lost their homes and livelihood, and do not have any food and clothes. Catastrophic humanitarian situation has occurred in the cities of the Eastern and Central parts of Ukraine: Kharkiv, Mariupol, Chernihiv, Izum and other cities and villages. Whole families are hiding and living in the basements in completely inhuman conditions without food, electricity, internet or mobile communication.
Just imagine - women are giving births there. Those who were lucky to leave these places alive had lost everything they had.
The Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine, as many other trade unions in Ukraine, receives a lot of requests from our members to get any assistance.
The Trade Union provides direct financial assistance to those trade union members whose houses were totally destroyed. We provide humanitarian aid to those who don’t have any clothes and food and organize temporary places for living for internally displaced people at schools and educational facilities.
Our staff continues to work actively from different parts of Ukraine, processing appeals from our members for help.
However, because of the Russian invasion to Ukraine the payments of membership fees to our Trade Union became very unstable and their collection became more complicated.
At this point, first of all, I would like to thank all our colleagues and friends for your support, for your solidarity letters. I thank the countries that help and provide shelter for Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing from the horror of the russian war looking for safe place for their families and children.
In this difficult period of time for all Ukrainians our Trade Union, all educators of Ukraine are very grateful to the Education International, ETUCE and all educational trade unions from other countries for the establishment of the Solidarity Fund and for their support that is utmost needed to provide humanitarian and financial assistance to those Ukrainian education workers who suffered from this horrible war.
And last, but not the least, I think, the whole of Europe should understand that if Putin is not stopped in Ukraine than neighboring countries will be next. Now Ukrainians at the cost of their lives are fighting for the safe future of the whole Europe deterring the aggressor from invading other countries.
Together we are a force that cannot be defeated. Let us remain united!
Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine