The Clinton Global Initiative has announced a new organization to help rebuild Ukraine and provide humanitarian aid to those impacted by Russia’s 18-month invasion.
In New York, officials at the Clinton Global Initiative 2023 announced the CGI Ukraine Action Network, as well as numerous financial pledges, to support nonprofits working in Ukraine, as the two-day annual conference opens on Monday.
The new organization, which will be formally announced Tuesday, is designed to mobilize existing CGI partners and other leaders from around the world, to create and finance new commitments for Ukrainians.
It is the result of a collaborative effort between Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate, and Olena Zelenska, first lady of Ukraine.
Russia first invaded the eastern border of Ukraine in February 2022. Moscow’s military has remained in the country, decimating its infrastructure, compromising its energy grid and shelling schools and civilian locations.
Political, business and philanthropic leaders who attended CGI hope the new organization will provide the nonprofits working in Ukraine a spotlight to magnify their impact and subsequently increase monetary commitments to their efforts.
The nonprofit Save Ukraine, which has opened community centers across the country to help families – and especially children – traumatized by the war, and rescue Ukrainian children who have been detained in Russia, is set to receive commitments of support during the conference.
The nonprofit said it intends to use the money to open more centers, said Olga Yerokhina, spokeswoman for the charity.
“We know that we have no choice – we must work hard and we are ready for that,” said Yerokhina, who is based in Kyiv. “But we also have this feeling of, ‘Guys, please don’t leave us because we want to be with you.’ If we are not with you, Russia is going to just erase us from the map of the world.”
Actor Liev Schreiber, co-founder of BlueCheck Ukraine, which vets small Ukrainian nonprofits doing humanitarian work in their communities so that donors can learn about these smaller organizations and feel comfortable funding them, said a major goal of any nonprofit aimed at helping Ukraine is to remind people that Ukrianians are still suffering and struggling.
“The best possible outcome is keeping people aware that they are still [in] an existential situation,” Schreiber said. “Democracies are designed to push back against impossible odds. And it’s worked. It’s been a miracle in many respects…. It really is a David and Goliath story. It’s extraordinary. And it’s not just them. It’s us supporting them. How can we give that up now?”
Schreiber spoke during a panel Monday morning about Ukraine’s short- and long-term needs, along with Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Fran Katsoudas, Cisco’s chief people, policy and purpose officer, and actor Orlando Bloom, who serves as UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador.
“I’m super proud of the global community,” Schreiber said. “This is a test for us. Do we really care? I think so far we’ve had remarkable success so far in supporting them. So many countries did something extraordinary to help. That’s significant. We can’t forget that.”
Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton announced last month that the conference would seek more commitments to address the war in Ukraine, climate change, health care issues, gender-based violence, and other issues.
“Every day, billions of people around the world, even in the face of the most dire circumstances, make a profound decision to choose hope and keep going,” the former president told The Associated Press in an emailed statement. “At CGI, we’re focusing on how to move forward in the face of daunting challenges – to act now, find new partners, and stick with it to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
The commitments are part of CGI’s theme of “Keep Going” this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.