There has been much written about Ukraine and what's happening but little about how important phones are in this crisis. There has been one European wide announcement but so far that hasn't translated much to what's happening on the ground.
theunconnected.org (charity number 1198420) is a UK charity focused on ensuring people who need it have a connection to the internet. We have been working hard to keep communication channels open between people who have fled Ukraine and those who remain behind.
By raising funds and donations in kind theunonnected.org firstly went out to the Ukrainian border in Siret to distribute SIM cards, power banks, chargers and devices in addition to seeing first hand the necessity for this telecom equipment. As suspected the demand for this was huge and our stand was the first port of call for most people crossing the border. Keeping their phone working was the top priority for people fleeing the crisis.
We made a second visit to Berlin as it's a major destination and transition hub for refugees delivering more equipment to the people in need and there were a great many of them.
Since returning to the UK we have been raising funds to top up the phones of Ukranian's left behind in Ukraine. 92% of the mobile phone market in Ukraine is prepaid, requiring a balance to be on the phone to make it function. As the situation deteriorates it has become more and more difficult to purchase this credit in Ukraine but it's something we can do from the UK.
We have been communicating with the people we met on the border, in Germany, NGO's and other Ukrainian organisations both in the UK and Ukraine to collect numbers and this is now going viral with more being added every minute.
We have been posting credit on thousands of phones to ensure that people in Ukraine can continue to communicate and keep their life functioning as normally as possible. We have been doing this with both corporate and individual sponsorship but funds are now low just as the need is growing and the situation getting worse.
If you think you can help please go to https://donorbox.org/connecting-ukrainian-refugees