Bravery, resilience and solidarity: Ukraine 2 years after the invasion


For the Ukrainian people displaced or still living in the country, ACT Alliance has truly been hope in action. Tirelessly responding to the ever-changing needs of those affected by what has been the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War, for the past two years our members have been a model of holistic and coordinated approach. Our humanitarian aid workers have been operating in a very dangerous and volatile setting, putting their lives at risk every single day.  Regrettably, two HEKS staff recently  lost their lives during a drone attack, sending shock waves across the whole community.Incredible bravery, resilience, and solidarity has marked the Ukraine response all along, following the illegal full-scale Russian invasion in 2022.Since the beginning of the conflict our response has focused on providing lifesaving support to the communities who faced this tragedy, in 2023, ACT Alliance launched a revised Ukraine appeal (UKR221), with Christian Aid joining as requesting member.Our Total ACT reponse for Ukraine is constantly changing to meet the need for psychological, spiritual and practical support, strengthening the Survivor and Community Led Response approach – which relies on the partnership with communities and local organisations to assess the situation on the ground and be in the driving seat of the response. We have prepared a gallery on our Media bank where you can find images, testimonies and interviews that picture the past two years of our work.   Thank you for your unwavering support which is vital to our efforts to help all those affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.Your help matters.UKR 221 appeal informationShould you need assistance please, Communications, Humanitarian Officer Europe

ACT Global Advocacy: for a future where everyone thrives

“We bring members in the Global South to speak to the UN in New York and at other global forums. Equipping them to tell their own powerful stories is a central part of our advocacy work,” says Alison Kelly, right, with ACT members at the United Nations in New York. PHOTO: Simon Chambers/ACT.

We spoke with Alison Kelly (UK) the ACT Alliance Representative to the United Nations, based in New York, and Dr. Marianna Leite (Brazil), ACT Alliance’s Global Advocacy and Development Policy Manager about their goals and hopes for ACT’s global advocacy work. 

By engaging in effective advocacy at local, national, regional and global levels, ACT Alliance contributes to positive and sustainable change in the lives of people affected by poverty and injustice.  ACT’s advocacy work is faith- and rights-based, grounded in evidence and rooted in the experience of forums and members.

Q: Why is advocacy important for ACT Alliance? 

“I think everyone should carve out at least ten percent of their time to think about advocacy,” says Dr. Marianna Leite, ACT’s Global Advocacy and Development Policy Manager.

Marianna Leite (M): It’s our responsibility to fundamentally change how things are now and envisage a future where everyone and the planet thrives. Policy and advocacy are deeply connected to humanitarian and development work. There is also a theological aspect to it – really believing in our prophetic voice and raising a faith voice and the voices of the communities we serve.  

Alison Kelly (A): There’s an increasing sense of urgency.  With climate now being seen as an existential issue, there’s an urgency to advocate for transformational change.  

M: We need to make some waves – positive waves of change. ACT has a role both in attending to urgent needs and striving for everyone to be able to enjoy basic rights in future.  

A: Transformation also means switching our thinking. The economy is a human system that should work for people and the planet. Our advocacy strategy is solutions focused. That’s really important. We know what works from our members’ experience in their communities.   

M: And we are all advocates.  We all try to influence each other; it’s part of being human. One of the things we say in the ACT Advocacy Academy is that advocacy can be as big as your creativity can reach.  

A: It’s opening the discussion. Advocacy can be local, it can be behind the scenes, it can be private; there are all these different mechanisms.  

M: Informal and silent advocacy can be much more impactful than any visible external advocacy. It is crucial for members to consider when to say yes or no to advocacy and to do a risk analysis. 

Q: What are the challenges and opportunities facing ACT’s global advocacy programme?  

M: A major challenge is the toxic anti-NGO or anti-civil action narrative that now permeates society.  Governments are cutting funding for the lifesaving work we do. The same negative undertone comes from fundamentalist groups that are backtracking hard won human rights. It’s hard to avert more damage because a narrative has a life of its own. Yet this is also an opportunity for ACT.  We are a faith actor promoting human rights as part of a transformative approach to sustainable development. We can push back against the pushbacks. ACT is unapologetic about our support to International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, and their principles. 

A: We speak to the moral and ethical dimension of issues, and we have the technical expertise to be credible. Holding faith and rights together gives us a strong platform.  

M: How to maintain hope is also part of our role as faith actors. We can hope for a better future, and we can be the change that we want to see in the world. I see that as part of ACT being prophetic. 

Recent global advocacy initiatives

Addressing COVID vaccine inequity 

By early 2022, it was clear that global COVID-19 vaccine distribution was not as rapid as the virus’ mutation and spread. Most doses of the vaccines were acquired by and administered in developed countries. The most vulnerable people, especially in developing nations, were yet again left behind. 

ACT responded by continuing to advocate for vaccine equity and addressing vaccine hesitancy. We published resources and hosted regional workshops on Vaccine Equity and Hesitancy in the Africa and Asia Pacific regions. ACT called on governments to support the creation of a binding treaty on pandemic preparedness. ACT’s General Secretary, as a civil society representative to the COVAX facility, pushed funders to make sure that vaccines reach those in developing nations.  

New Advocacy Package 

Developed over three years with ACT’s advocacy and policy reference group, an approvals process for all documents produced under the ACT banner was piloted in 2022.  Created for forums and all groups of ACT Alliance members that want to do joint advocacy, it is part of a new advocacy package meant to ensure that ACT always speaks with one united voice with coherent and mutually reinforcing language. Member suggestions led to adjustments and user-friendly resources and design templates along with a forum-centred advocacy guidance, all part of the final package to be launched in 2023.  

This interview appears in the ACT Alliance Annual Report 2022, available in English, French and Spanish.









No home to call her own: Raamineh left without a home, a child and a husband

“I screamed at my husband to get up and run outdoors with the children as the earthquake struck at 1:30 AM,” said Raamineh.

Raamineh rushed outside carrying two of her children. She went back inside and managed to bring out three more of her children. “The roof collapsed and my husband and one son died under the rubble. After the earthquake, I started to dig through the rubble to find my husband and son. There was no help as everyone was searching for their loved ones under the debris. My brothers, who came for my rescue, lost their children in the earthquake too. But they helped me in recovering my husband and son’s lifeless bodies after six hours of digging.”

Raamineh saved two of her sons and three daughters. “One of my sons is severely injured. We lost all the cattle we owned, our home and belongings in the earthquake. I am left with nothing. I do not have any financial support to treat my injured son.”

Raamineh lived in Osam Rogha village of Giyan district with her husband and six children. Her husband worked as a labourer who earned a daily income of AFN 300 (Approx. USD 3.4) whenever he managed to find work. “Life was challenging enough before the earthquake struck. As our income did not meet our eight family members’ needs, it was tough to get through each day. There are no schools in the area. In the morning, my children would attend the madrassa. They would travel to the mountains once they got home to gather wood to use as fuel.”

Osam Rogha has witnessed a death toll of over 15 people after the earthquake. The affected families were provided with AFN 500 by the government. In addition, some humanitarian organisations provided the families basic food supplies, such as bread and biscuits. “We are in need of food, shelter and healthcare for the injured. As we reside in a remote area, there is little help till now,” added Raamineh sadly. “Our houses need to be rebuilt as the winters are approaching and we have to keep our children warm. There is nothing left here, only the injured.” Giyan and Barmal are the two districts which were severely affected by the earthquake. The districts are located alongside the Durand line, where access to transportation and health facilities is restricted. More than 3,000 houses have been destroyed in the earthquake that shook southeast Afghanistan.

This article is re-posted from Community World Service’s website

Hungarian Interchurch Aid consignment reaches Kharkiv

The aid organisation helps civilians living in bomb shelters and subway stations of the city besieged since the start of the war

Article shared by HIA

Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine in close proximity to the Russian border has received its first aid consignment from Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA). Half of the 1.5 million inhabitants have already fled due to the constant attacks on the city since the outbreak of war. Most of those who stayed have nowhere to go, or are unable to flee to a safer environment because they need to care for their small children, elderly and those needing constant medical care. Taking refuge in bomb shelters, cellars, basements and subway stations these people are subjected to 5-6 air raid warnings and subsequent attacks often lasting hours.

Several utility services are out of order, apartments are left without running water, gas or heating. Electricity is also frequently cut. Returning to flats in housing blocks – even if only for a couple of hours and presuming the flats are still intact – is very hard or the socially most disadvantaged civilians with health problems, as elevators have stopped working city-wide. Although in the city some grocery stores are still open, they can be hard to reach since public transport isn’t operational either. Travel is already risky due to the constant fighting, frequent missile attacks and air raids especially targeting infrastructure.

Sergei Babin and his wife have stayed in the city nevertheless. Their association “International Bridge” aims to help the citizens of Kharkiv suffering the effects of the war and is affiliated with HIA partners Zlatograd Foundation of Dnipro. Altogether, they have 50 volunteers helping them in their efforts. Despite all war-related difficulties, HIA managed to deliver an aid consignment to the besieged city on 30 April. The 70 food parcels and almost 100 hygiene kits were distributed to civilians who had been holed up in the subway stations and bunkers for a good part of the two months since the start of the invasion.

„There is a great need for food and hygiene products, potable water and flashlights. We receive a huge number of requests for aid from the hospitals, maternity wards of the different districts of the city, and there is also a shortage of medicine. We are grateful for any kind of help, as the people of Kharkiv have been suffering from this serious humanitarian crisis for many weeks now” said Sergey Babin, expressing his gratitude for the HIA aid consignment.

In the two months since the outbreak of the war, HIA has been able to continuously expand their assistance to new methods and geographical areas. The humanitarian operations now stretch from the extreme west of the country to the Dnieper bend in the east, encompassing 10 regions of Ukraine. Until 24 April, the HIA response has reached 70,921 people, providing emergency access to basic food and non-food items, health & hygiene products, protection and links to transportation services. In total, HIA has sent 40 trucks filled to brim with core relief – every week 4 or more trucks cross the Hungarian border. In addition to the tangible, in-kind aid, in cooperation with partner organisations the aid organisation is also able to provide psychosocial assistance to the traumatised people fleeing the horrors of war. Furthermore, the organisation also supplies over 200 community shelters for IDPs with all kinds of aid.