I’ve been in Ukraine for two months now and many people have been asking me, what are you doing in Kyiv? Don’t you know there’s a war on? Obviously, I know – you really can’t miss it. However, as a second generation Ukrainian-Canadian, this illegal war has affected me personally. It pains me to see such brutality, especially the effect it’s having on people’s lives. To the 13 million who have fled their homes, it must feel completely hopeless.
That’s why I’m here – to help hope return for the Ukrainian people as soon as possible, once this vicious and destructive conflict ends.
Homeless and helpless
Russian military doctrine seems to have only one approach: destroy as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets first in Syria, and now Ukraine, have left much of the country uninhabitable and created millions of refugees, plus those left homeless in their own country – Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The destruction of people’s homes, land and property (HLP) has sadly become a focus of humanitarian efforts as more and more people living in larger urban centres become targets for aggressors bent on forcing a swift capitulation.
The pictures and videos we see of the destruction are sadly only the beginning. Every war eventually ends, and when that happens the monumental task of rebuilding an entire country begins. Restoring damaged and destroyed cities is not a simple task. First you must ensure it’s safe to rebuild by clearing unexploded munitions and boobie traps, then you must remove all the rubble. However, to accomplish this, you need people to drive the dump trucks, and roads on which to travel!
The long road home
It can take years to even begin rebuilding heavily damaged cities like Aleppo, Syria or Mariupol, Ukraine, and the cost is astronomical. Of course, victim countries are the least capable of rebuilding because of the destruction of government institutions, displaced population, and the total collapse of economic output necessary to generate the funds required to rebuild.
This leaves it up to the peace-loving, democratic nations of the world and their taxpayers who oppose unjustified aggression to finance the rebuilding of war-torn nations. Estimates to rebuild Ukraine range from $349 billion to over $1 trillion dollars. Ukraine doesn’t have that kind of money, so they need our help.
Oh no, Kosovo
Imagine the war has just ended and millions of people return to their homes and lives only to find that both no longer exist. Refugees and IDPs from Mariuopol must have a place to live when they return. If there’s no money or plan to rebuild their homes and lives, desperate people often take matters into their own hands. The reality of a post-war Ukraine without money or a blueprint to rebuild is bleak.
Rebuilding a damaged home at the barrel of a gun is not the way to unite people, it just prolongs violence and promotes distrust between civilians and the government which is supposed to support them. One only needs to look at countries like Kosovo and Boznia-Herzegovina to see what a country without a rebuilding plan looks like thirty years after war.
Let’s get it right
To ensure that the Ukrainian people have a reliable plan to rebuild their country, western donor governments and NGOs need to sit down across the table from their Ukrainian government counterparts and civil society representatives and determine who is going to pay and how the money will be spent.