KSrelief Concludes Anti-Blindness Campaign in Garoua, Cameroon, by Conducting 423 Surgeries    KSrelief Dispatches Over 100 Relief Trucks to Yemen Through Al-Wadiah Land Port    Custodian of Two Holy Mosques Congratulates President of Mozambique on Anniversary of his Country's Independence Day    HRH Crown Prince Tour of Egypt, Jordan & Turkiye is not Just a Protocol One, Says Saudi Press    FIFA Accredits Saudi Football Association Among Expert Federations in VAR Tech    Saudi Arabia reaffirms commitment to women empowerment Economic participation by Saudi females up 94% in 3 years    Two killed as electric car falls from third floor of Shanghai office building    US Senate passes first gun control bill in decades    Talking to the Taliban 'only way forward' in Afghanistan    Monkeypox: Amid uncertainty, global situation cannot be ignored, says WHO chief    Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Takes Part in Tunisia Forum for Investment    10-year jail, SR10m fine for distributing adulterated food among pilgrims    Al-Hilal one win away from 3rd SPL title in a row    Anthony Joshua defends Saudi Arabia when asked about 'sportswashing'    Saudi Arabia, Djibouti Sign Joint Cooperation Agreement on Maritime Transport    Blood transfusion at IMC for patient with complex condition qualifies him for surgery    GCC Food Safety Committee Holds its Sixth Meeting    Flyadeal Launches First Direct Flight to Khartoum    Saudi Stock Market Index Ends Down at Level of 11310.67 Points    Energy security crucial to growth of nations, Saudi minister says    Al-Khorayef visits London Metal Exchange    NEOM launches program to develop next generation of Saudi football talent    Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Visits London Metal Exchange    Belgian blogger: Saudi Arabia is safer than America and Europe    Alfanar partners to sponsor the 'Global Innovation Award in Water Desalination'    KAPSARC, SAEE join hands to increase local participation in the 44th IAEE Conference    'Runaway' status can be rectified without employer's consent: MHRSD    US swimmer Anita Alvarez rescued by coach after fainting in pool American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was rescued from the bottom of the pool by her coach after fainting at the World Aquatics Championships.    Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall are to split: US media    SFDA Extends Period for Submitting Requests for Compliance Forms for Food Transportation during Hajj    GASTAT: Saudi Arabia's overall merchandise exports increased by 98.0% in April 2022    CITC Publishes Public Consultation on Regulatory Framework for NTN, Information Document for NTN Spectrum Auction    UN agencies rush to aid Afghanistan following deadly quake    Celebrating the union of body and soul: UN marks International Yoga Day    Jeddah is Set to Host the Finals of World Boxing in August, Organizers Announce    President of AFC Congratulates Saudi Olympic Team on Winning Asia Cup U23    Saudi National Olympic Team Crowned AFC U23 Asian Cup    Samrat Prithviraj: Why did a Bollywood film on a popular Hindu king fail?    Saudi Film "The Journey" Wins Best Experimental Film at Dutch Septimius Awards    ALECSO Director: Islamic Arts Biennale Is Extension of Saudi Arabia's Cultural Movement    Saudi Council of Senior Scholars slams Indian ruling party leader's remarks against Prophet    Diriyah Biennale Foundation Announces Hajj Terminal in Jeddah as Location for First-ever Islamic Arts Biennale    Drug charges dropped against Shah Rukh Khan's son    Shoura members propose equal blood money for men and women, Muslim and non-Muslim    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques addresses citizens and all Muslims on the occasion of the Holy month of Ramadan    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    Council of Senior Scholars: Muslim Brothers' Group Don't Represent Method of Islam, rather only Follows its Partisan Objectives, Violating our Graceful Religion    Eid Al-Adha Prayer Performed at the Grand Holy Mosque    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

How the horror of war inspired this Italian's bid to save 500 refugees
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 27 - 04 - 2022

In March, Italian Alberto Andreani defied bombs and bullets to rescue 40 people from Kharkiv, Ukraine, including his wife's family.
Twenty of those the 58-year-old rescued are still staying with him at his apartment in Vienna, Austria.
One month later, Alberto returned to the war-torn country. This time he's hoping to save 500 people.
Having gathered a team to support him behind the scenes, he worked with the Ukrainian authorities to create a safe humanitarian corridor for the country's most vulnerable.
This is the story of his mammoth effort.
Alberto, who works for the United Nations in post-conflict zones, first went to Ukraine in March to bring his wife's family to safety. He was almost killed during his first trip, after accidentally violating the nationwide curfew.
But Alberto was undeterred.
Describing the war as a "genocide", he was left deeply disturbed by what he saw travelling through Ukraine. It strengthened his resolve to return and do something bigger.
Through the donations of hundreds of people, Alberto raised around €20,000 to fund a second mission. He got in touch with the mayor of Ternopil, a small city in western Ukraine, and started to plan the rescue of hundreds of women, children, elderly and disabled people, especially those without the means to escape.
"I have many thoughts," Alberto said on the eve of his second journey. The fighting had grown more brutal since his first trip, with allegations of Russian war crimes, and he was concerned about entering a war zone.
"But I cannot forget the faces of the people I saw [in Ukraine] who were asking me for help," he added.
Alberto's mission was almost immediately rocked by obstacles.
On 2 April, the first day after he arrived in Ternopil, a strong explosion rattled the windows of his hotel. It was a blast from a Russian missile, intercepted before it hit the city. This shattered his illusions of safety, as he thought Ternopil had been spared from Russian bombings up to that point.
Making matters worse, Alberto's aide -- a fellow Italian -- deserted him. He cut all contact with Alberto and gave him no explanation. Alberto's messages remain unanswered.
Still, Alberto remained.
He worked tirelessly with a motley crew of Ukrainian evangelical Christians and far-right nationalists to locate those in need of evacuation, visiting shelters, filling out paperwork and liaising with officials.
Alberto felt a constant and underlying sense of fear, throughout this time, he said.
"When you go to a town hall, you know you're in an institutional building which could easily be targeted by missiles," he said. "The big question is always: 'Will we be next?'"
Alberto was also forced to set aside his political differences with Ternopil's mayor Serhiy Nadal, who belongs to the ultra-nationalist Svoboda party, and eventually came to praise his efforts to help the city's refugees.
"In situations like these, politics doesn't matter," he said. "Regardless of [Nadal's] views, he's doing his best to help people in need."
This feeling was reciprocated.
"We are very grateful for what Alberto has done," said town hall employee Natalia. "The families have been selected by [us] very carefully, and those that Alberto has saved are happy now."
By 10 April, after more than a week in Ternopil, Alberto's mission was complete. He boarded his bus, loaded with around 50 refugees, and drove to the Polish border, safely reaching Vienna.
Many of those on board were families in challenging situations: mothers with severe psychological difficulties, individuals with epilepsy and the elderly.
"Mothers told me that they saw their door broken down by Russians, in order to destroy towns. And worse," he said.
Among the hundreds of people Alberto and his team rescued are Yulia, 42, and her two sons, aged eight and 11, from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
They have now found refuge in San Carlo Canavese, a small town near the Italian city of Turin, where many of the refugees Alberto helped evacuate are currently staying.
"My sons are happy," said Yulia, who described their new life as a far cry from the dread and terror back home. "They have lessons with their Ukrainian school online, they play soccer outside, we have green space."
"We're ok now. We're safe," she added.
But Yulia still remembers the scars of conflict.
"Back in Ukraine, we had many sleepless nights. We can sleep now," Yulia stated. "But my children told me they will never forget the sound of bombs falling near our home."
She vividly remembers the day Russia invaded Ukraine, and her world was thrown into disarray.
"On 24 February, I was staying with my grandmother and kids in Kyiv," she said. "That day, I heard bombs, loud sounds.
The family stayed put in Kyiv, but after missiles hit a barracks near their house, they decided to head west to Ternopil, from where they eventually left the country.
"While in Ternopil, my dream was to be back in my house for Easter," she said. "But my husband, who stayed around Kyiv, told me it was too dangerous, that missiles could come at any minute."
When Yulia fled with her sons to Italy with Alberto, she had to leave her husband behind.
"Both my children were crying when their father left," Yulia says. "Like other Ukrainian men aged 18-60, Yegor has had to stay in the country and is currently fighting the war.
"I told them: you should be proud of your father. If he doesn't stay, then who will defend our home?"
Since then, Yulia has only managed to speak to Yegor sporadically. "The last time he called me, it was actually to ask if he should come home to water the flowers," she laughed.
Her 86-year-old grandmother also remained in Ukraine.
"My grandmother was six when Hitler bombed Kyiv," Yulia said. "She isn't afraid anymore. She's good, our two cats have stayed with her."
"I have a close friend in Mariupol," Yulia added. "The whole city lives underground, like in a film. So many people have died. What's happening back in Ukraine isn't just a war, it's a genocide."
While reminiscing over the past few weeks and mulling over the future, Yulia is keen to express her gratitude to Alberto, whom she credits for bringing her and her two sons to safety.
"Alberto has been of great support to us all," she stated. "He told us everything would have gone well and that he would have taken care of us to the very end. All Ukrainians are infinitely grateful to him."
Elisabetta Capannelli is one of Alberto's team, working in his office in Vienna.
A professor at Bologna University and a former World Bank Country Manager for Romania and Hungary, Elisabetta heard about the mission through word of mouth after Alberto's first journey in March.
Since then, she has been coordinating the project, conducting a variety of tasks that range from research to speaking with administrators and following individual cases.
"My life has been flipped upside down since joining this effort," she told Euronews. "I can afford it, but I gave up all my plans.
"The people who networked, who heard about [Alberto's mission] and are now working for it, have come for their desire to help this project," she added. "This whole thing has become something bigger than what he intended with his good, generous heart."
Since Alberto's first journey, his aim has indeed metamorphosed into something far greater than what he'd set out to do – namely, he has worked to establish a safe and sustainable humanitarian corridor between Ternopil, Austria and Italy, that can assist Ukrainian refugees without support networks or relatives abroad.
While he took approximately 50 people out of Ukraine on his bus, other evacuations are proceeding in weekly batches. Alberto and Elisabetta have reported that more than 100 people have currently been saved, and that that the team is working to reach its 500-refugee target.
But despite the massive level of teamwork behind Alberto's mission, there's one thing that he's still missing: the support of Italian authorities.
A letter co-signed by Alberto and the mayor of Ternopil on 28 March asked for help from a variety of Italian regional authorities – namely the regional presidents of Piedmont, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, and Liguria, and the mayors of Turin, Ivrea, Florence, Bologna and Genoa – in helping to evacuate and settle refugees. More than a month later, none of them has replied.
It means Alberto's project has to provide for itself and rely on independent organisations, such as La Memoria Viva association, to help allocate and assist refugees in their resettlement.
"We have refugees everywhere. In Piedmont and Abruzzo in Italy, in Krakow and Warsaw in Poland," Elisabetta stated. "We've received assistance, but we don't know how long things in Ukraine will go on for and providing for fragile people can pose many problems. We simply haven't received enough support."
While Alberto is visibly pleased with the results he has received so far, he can't contain the frustration he has felt from the lack of support received from the institutions whose help he was counting upon.
"The purpose of this project isn't to enter into competition with existing evacuation channels, but rather to create a sustainable corridor for those who are vulnerable," he concluded. "The Italian authorities just haven't understood this." — Euronews

Clic here to read the story from its source.