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Ukraine’s Postal Service, Ukrposhta, has launched a historic program to bring large amounts of humanitarian aid into the country. It is inspiring, essential, and dangerous work. And Ukrposhta is also valiantly continuing its daily postal operations as best it can.
On March 4, Ukrposhta announced it is resuming flights to the United States to deliver commercial items to American customers from small- and medium-sized Ukrainian businesses. These are e-commerce companies selling goods on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and other websites. The flights leave from Warsaw and arrive at Kennedy Airport.
Return flights will have up to 40 tons of humanitarian aid, especially food and medical supplies. In the United States, DNIPRO LLC in Roselle, New Jersey is collecting goods for shipment to Ukraine. They worked all weekend to get the first 40-ton shipment ready to be flown to Warsaw on Wednesday, March 9, before it goes to Ukraine.
Lexington Institute’s Paul Steidler corresponded with Julia Pavlenko, Director, Department of International Operation for Ukrposhta. The discussion, and information on how to help this important cause, is below.
STEIDLER: What percent of the humanitarian aid that you are flying to Warsaw do you expect will be brought into Ukraine and go to those who are in dire need?
PAVLENKO: Ukrposhta’s main goal is to deliver humanitarian aid (mainly medical supplies and equipment and food) to Ukraine itself, to the affected hospitals, military units, schools etc.
Ukrposhta will collect the goods from the airport by its own trucks along the green corridor through the border, then sort them. Working in close cooperation with local administrations in Ukraine, Ukrposhta will know where which goods are most needed.
Ukrposhta is planning five or more trips (Ukrposhta is bringing export mail to Poland at its own expense and is looking for financing of the return trip to bring humanitarian aid to Ukraine).
STEIDLER: What supplies are especially important to get?
PAVLENKO: The most needed goods are food, clothes, hygiene products, (and) medicines.
STEIDLER: As a postal service, what are some of the advantages that you have over other organizations in distributing aid? Can anyone distribute aid as well as Ukrposhta can within Ukraine?
PAVLENKO: Ukrposhta is the designated postal operator of Ukraine with 65,000 employees and 11,000 post offices across the country. Although now we have difficulty accessing some regions (Luhansk region, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Kherson, Mykolayiv).
Ukrposhta’s employees are doing their best to perform their duties even in the dangerous circumstances. And as soon as the aggressor’s army stops firing (at) civilians, Ukrposhta will restore regional routes with sorting centers in these regions because it is very important to access all customers.
Ukrposhta continues its work to provide services whenever possible and its employees are working in extremely dangerous conditions. Three (of) Ukrposhta’s employees have been killed while performing their duties (two of them were trying to deliver pensions to people in Zaporizhzhia region in a branded Ukrposhta “mobile post office” van, which was attacked by the occupant troops).
Therefore, Ukrposhta is one of the best partners to deliver humanitarian aid.
More information is available here.
A lot of partners have already launched free delivery to Ukraine (Gibraltar, Georgia, Slovenia). Several partners are also collecting humanitarian aid for Ukraine at special warehouses, from which parcels will be delivered by Ukrposhta: Greece (two warehouses), Poland, USA.
Several postal operators introduce special charity activities and send tonnes of aid to Ukraine (Georgian Post, Romanian Post).
STEIDLER: You have certainly faced enormous challenges with the war. How well has Ukrposhta been able to provide regular services and operate on a day-to-day basis?
PAVLENKO: As (of) now Ukrposhta has difficulty accessing some regions (Luhansk region, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Kherson, Mykolayiv), the network is operating (except Luhansk region), but on a local level. Unfortunately, these regions have no regular connection to Kyiv, so Ukrposhta cannot guarantee timely delivery.
In the rest of the country Ukrposhta is operating in the normal format, with linehaul routes (every day or every two days) connecting them to Lviv OE, so all import mail received from Poland or Slovakia is processed in Lviv or Chop and then delivered by linehaul routes to destinations in Ukraine. But connection between Kyiv and Lviv can be about 48 hours due to check points and heavy traffic (many people are trying to go to the western part of Ukraine + several roads are broken).
Some of the 40 tons of humanitarian aid being shipped to Ukraine that will be distributed by Ukrposhta. Source: DNIPRO LLC.
Despite the complicated conditions, Ukrposhta has sent about 46 tonnes of outgoing mail (60% of which is on its way to Poland). On 8 March, a charter flight (Airbus 330 by WindRose Airlines) is scheduled to fly from Warsaw airport to New York JFK airport. More information is here.
On the way back Ukrposhta trucks will receive import mail at the office of exchange of Poczta Polska, and Ukrposhta will perform customs procedures and deliver the mail within its network.
As about 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine to foreign countries and about three to four million are now moving to western parts of the country: Ukrposhta has introduced the possibility to re-address (re-direct) postal items within Ukraine (customers can contact Ukrposhta’s call centre or Ukrposhta’s social media).
In addition, postal items are stored at post offices for free until the end of the martial law in Ukraine. Ukrposhta is introducing all necessary steps and doing its best to deliver postal items and money payments to the people in Ukraine in a safe way.
STEIDLER: What if a U.S. company or high-net worth individual wants to provide a cargo plane to you, could that be used to transport more goods back?
PAVLENKO: This would be very helpful (as mentioned above, Ukrposhta is bringing export mail to Poland at its own expense and is looking for financing of the return trip to bring humanitarian aid to Ukraine).
STEIDLER: What do you want people to know about what is going on in Ukraine now?
PAVLENKO: The Russian troops are attacking Ukraine in a cruel and unacceptable way, launching missile strikes on Ukrainian settlements, killing civilians with all kinds of heavy weapons, destroying the infrastructure of cities and villages, residential buildings, damaging critical facilities, which can lead to terrible environmental disasters.
The Russian troops have destroyed 211 schools, 38 hospitals have been destroyed or are under constant attacks, there have been 350 casualties among civilians, including 24 children, and 707 have been injured.
For more information on contributing humanitarian aid to Ukraine through this Ukrposhta program with DNIPRO LLC, please see here and contact Mr. Nazar Kolodka, firstname.lastname@example.org, 908-241-2190. Thank you.
Note: Paul Steidler is a Senior Fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.
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