On the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine and the bitter year that has followed, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) has renewed its call for a ceasefire and negotiations for a lasting peace.
ICN President Pamela Cipriano said: “Nurses around the world are a force for peace and they continue to stand in solidarity, condemning this horrific aggression and the attacks on innocent people. Nurses are also a symbol of peace, and we know that health and peace go hand in hand, and that neither can exist without the other.
‘ICN is doing all it can to support those affected by the conflict through its #NursesforPeace campaign and the Humanitarian Fund. Thanks to the generous donations of our NNAs and other partners, we have been able to get aid into the hands of the nurses in Ukraine and the surrounding countries.
President of the Nursing Association of Ukraine Tetyana Chernyshenko sent a message to ICN saying:
“The Association of Nurses of Ukraine sincerely thanks the International Council of Nurses and all the nurses of the world for their immense help and support for Ukrainian nurses. It is extremely important for each of us to feel that our colleagues are ready to help.
‘A terrible and brutal war is going on in Ukraine, as a result of the full-scale invasion by Russian troops on the territory of our country. Many women were forced to leave for other countries in Europe, to Canada, and the USA to save their children, and many women joined the thousands of men who joined the ranks of our armed forces.
‘Alongside the military front, the People's Medical Front was set up for our doctors, nurses, paramedics and health instructors.
‘Since the start of the war I have not left my city, Kyiv, for a single day. The war continues and almost every day we face missiles and planes in all corners of Ukraine, destroying the civilian population, our houses, hospitals, schools, universities, infrastructure buildings, factories, and kindergartens, which have nothing to do with military operations.
‘Thousands of civilians have been killed in territories that have since been liberated from the invaders. It is impossible to imagine what Ukrainians experienced, what torture and abuse. It is impossible to write or even talk about it.
‘The work of our nurses, doctors and paramedics holds a special place in our hearts. Nurses constantly provide medical care at the front, in hospitals, in fact everywhere it is needed. Many of our staff now live in the hospitals they work in, and many of the medics, after being wounded and treated, are urgently returning to the front to liberate our country.
‘We thank all peoples and countries for the great support and help they provide us in this difficult struggle. We understand that Ukrainians are fighting for the entire democratic world, but it is difficult and almost impossible to imagine this cruel struggle without the help of other countries.
‘The help of the International Council of Nurses to Ukrainian nurses has a special page in today's history. It is difficult to overestimate its importance. Ukrainian nurses feel the support: we are not alone in our struggle. Our colleagues - nurses from many countries - are standing with us. This is invaluable: it gives Ukrainian nurses new strength in the struggle on the way to victory.”
Tales of courage and tragedy from Ukraine’s nurses
Ms Chernyshenko also passed on the following messages from ordinary nurses who had received support from ICN.
- Taisia Lutsenko: "During the bombing of the Polonsk railway substation, my building was damaged and the money I received helped to restore the roof and windows. I am very grateful to the International Council of Nurses for their help. Peace and goodness to all."
- Svitlana Yatsenko: "My son died near Kherson, defending the Motherland, leaving his two children orphans who had to be sent to school. This was not a small amount of money during the war, so the help of the International Council of Nurses was very timely. May the Lord help your organisation in all your good deeds. Thank you."
- Marina Ostash: "I am pleasantly surprised by the fact that the International Council of Nurses takes care of the nurses of my native Ukraine in such difficult times for us. I have an oncological disease, for the fight against which a lot of money is spent. I am sincerely grateful to you for your help, which may extend my life for several years. Peace and health to all for many, many years."
- Olga Bashuk: "I am the mother of the fallen soldier Bashuk Oleksandr Yuriyovych, who died on August 16, 2022 in eastern Ukraine, defending the city of Soledar. I express my great and sincere thanks to the International Council of Nurses for the financial assistance provided to our family. A peaceful sky for all of us, harmony and a happy future."
- Vita Atamanyuk: "My husband is on the front line. Thanks to the International Council of Nurses for the help. In such a difficult time, this is much-needed money. With their help, we were able to buy the necessary equipment and the necessary medicines."
- Tetyana Kaskova: "My son was seriously injured in June 2022, he was treated in Lviv, in the Netherlands, underwent many operations, and is currently in the Khmelnytskyi military hospital. The allocated money was used for treatment. Thank you for your help. We are all people of the beautiful planet Earth, and it is very good that, at a terrible moment for our country, our plight was heard far beyond its borders."
- Alina Sherstyuk: "I work at the Primary Health Care Center No. 2 in Zaporizhzhia as a nurse of Outpatient Clinic No. 2. Until February 24 2022, I lived in Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia Region. My house was destroyed by a missile. Now I live with my five-year-old son in a rented apartment in the city of Zaporizhzhia, registered as an internally displaced person. I am very grateful to you for the financial assistance provided to me. This is a huge support for my son and me. Once again, thank you very much. Glory to Ukraine."
- Nataliya Harkava: "I am a senior medical nurse of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Antitumor Center. I personally, and on behalf of my family, express my sincere gratitude to you for this help. It is good that our world is supported by such sensitive people as you, who find themselves next to us in a difficult period. Your help is an invaluable and undoubtedly tangible support for our family. Good deeds do not go unnoticed - they shine like beacons to those who are waiting for help. By providing help in this difficult time for all of us, you give not just material values, but hope that, together, we will overcome any difficulties. May your kindness and generosity return to you a hundredfold. I wish you all the best, health, prosperity and more warmth on your life path. Glory to Ukraine!"
- Svitlana Leonchuk: "I am a nurse of the Zaporizhzhia Center of Primary Health Care No. 5. In this difficult time for Ukraine and the entire Ukrainian people, I express my sincere thanks for the financial assistance provided to me. I have a large family, an old mother in my arms. It is a great support for me and my family. It's hard for everyone now, but we're holding on to victory. Victory will be ours, we all believe in it. I wish everyone good health and peace."
- Svitlana Totska: "I am a nurse at the Maternity Hospital, one of the many medical workers who lived in the occupied territories and fell into the zone of active hostilities. I was forced to move to the territory controlled by Ukraine, leaving my home. Your financial assistance helped me to settle in a new place of residence. In addition, the sense of moral support from the nursing community helped to overcome the psychological trauma caused by the war. Now I work in a medical institution, actively communicate in the professional sphere and live with faith in victory!"
- Olga Veryovkina: "I am from Dergachi, Kharkiv region, but since April 2022 I have lived and worked as an anaesthetic nurse in Poltava. I was forced to leave home with my children and husband due to the constant shelling of our town. For two weeks, we had been forced to hide almost constantly in the basement with our daughters, aged four and 13. Then, thanks to volunteers, we managed to move to Poltava. We arrived with very few essentials, rented an apartment, and I was lucky enough to find a job almost immediately. ‘In this most difficult and most frightening period of my life, I received great moral support from my new team and, unexpectedly, substantial financial assistance from the International Council of Nurses. ‘At that moment, our family needed help more than ever, because we had to pay for rented accommodation, laboratory tests for my youngest daughter, who has congenital metabolic disorders and needs regular monitoring of some blood parameters, and, of course, our daily living expenses of our life in a new place. Therefore, I sincerely thank you for the very timely financial assistance from the International Council of Nurses. ‘I am also grateful for the opportunity to work in my specialty, for the warm and cordial attitude and care for me and my entire family from the hospital administration, and all my new colleagues."
- Lidia Danelia: "I spent money on the treatment and rehabilitation of my son, who was seriously injured. He is still in rehabilitation. After two difficult oncology operations, I lost so much weight that with the money I received, I bought not only medicine, but also winter clothes."
- Marina Kravchenko: "I would like to thank you very much for the financial assistance, which I needed after the damage to my house in Ochakiv. I work as an emergency medical assistant in the city of Ochakiv, and every shift I save the lives of our citizens. Your help is very important to me. Thank you."
- Oleksiy Homych: "I work as a paramedic in emergency medical care in the village of Shevchenkivo, in the Vitovsk district. The terrorists left me and my two children in my house, and my wife and I were forced to leave our village and move to the city of Mykolaiv. We really needed your financial support and it helped my family in difficult times. It is very important to know that we are not alone and you are helping us. Thank you. Ukraine will win. Together to victory".
- Olena Ponurenko: "I work as a nurse in an emergency medical center with my husband. We lived in Snigurivka, Mykolaiv region, but were forced to leave our damaged home and move to Mykolaiv with our eight-year-old daughter. Thank you very much for your support and financial assistance, which helped to solve our financial problems. Glory to Ukraine!"
- Inna Hayduk: "I work as a nurse in the center of emergency medical care and disaster medicine. I would like to sincerely thank you for your financial assistance and for your kind hearts, because my house in Pervomaiske was damaged during artillery shelling. I was forced to leave it and look for housing in another place. Thank you."
- Inna Vladykina: "I work as a nurse at Mykolayiv City Hospital No. 3. We dream of war and destruction. My house was damaged by the shelling, and my son and husband were injured. Thanks to you, the International Council of Nurses, many needy and disadvantaged people receive the help they need. In a hurry to help others, you do not spare your own strength, time, and health. You are an example of humanity and charity for us. I salute you, dear colleagues, for your care and kindness."
- Sofia Yanova: "I lived in the Donetsk region in the small town of Lyman and I was at home when the full-scale invasion started on February 24 2022. At the beginning of April, I had to leave my home, as the occupiers came close to the city. My husband decided to stay because we thought everything would pass. My grandmother and grandfather were evacuated under heavy enemy fire. On April 29 phone calls from my husband stopped because all the mobile towers were damaged and there was very heavy shelling. On May 5 my husband miraculously escaped the city and that is how my whole family got to Poltava, where I now work as an operating room nurse. We later learned that an enemy missile had destroyed our house. "
- Tetyana Grigoryeva: "I lived in Kreminna city in the Luhansk region. Between February 24 and March 31 2022 we were under enemy fire in the basement. My brother was killed by an enemy shell when he came out of the cellar to fetch water. My husband did not want to leave, but when the situation became unbearable, we finally left. 15 days after our departure, the city fell under enemy occupation and our apartment was burned down by an enemy rocket. Our life is divided into "before and after". I currently live in Poltava and work as a ward nurse in the ophthalmology department. I am grateful to the International Council of Nurses for providing material assistance and support in such a difficult time. Thank you for your help.”
Living in dire conditions
ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said the messages from the Ukrainian nurses demonstrated their courage despite the dire situations they have been forced to live in.
Mr Catton said: “What comes through in these messages is the indomitable spirit of Ukraine’s nurses living in such terrible circumstances, and their gratitude for the little help that ICN has been able to send them. I want to pass on my thanks to everyone who has contributed to our #NursesforPeace campaign and our Humanitarian Fund which, as you can see, is making a real difference on the ground and helping to enable nurses to carry on working, despite the terrible situations they find themselves in. The insights they provide enable all of us to have a glimpse of their lives, which have been turned upside down by the conflict, and to empathise with the conditions they are being forced to live in by this unnecessary war. I repeat our President’s call for a ceasefire and an immediate end to hostilities in the name of the humanity, which nurses so clearly represent.”
Since the start of the conflict ICN’s #NursesforPeace campaign, launched on March 3 2022, has been a focus for nurses all over the world to contribute funds to help with the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine and in the surrounding countries.
ICN acknowledges the generous contributions from ordinary nurses, National Nursing Associations and others, which have been used to provide basic necessities for nurses, including food and medical aid. Social media aspects of the campaign have brought nurses’ efforts to ease the situation in Ukraine to the attention of the world.
ICN is also funding bridging courses for Ukrainian nurses who have been forced out of their country and want to work in the countries where they are now living as refugees.
Click here for more information on the #NursesforPeace campaign and the ICN Humanitarian Fund.
Download the communique here