Bay Area nonprofits fear Russia is targeting aid workers
OAKLAND, CA. – A Bay Area nonprofit providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine said one of its crews was attacked in Ukraine while trying to make a delivery.
“The security problem is huge,” said Ostap Korkuna, director of the Palo-Alto-based humanitarian aid group called New Ukrainewhich raised approximately $8 million in donations.
Korkuna says one of their vans was recently attacked and destroyed while making a delivery. The aid workers survived, but Korkuna says the organization took steps to ensure the security of their operations and prevent Russian forces from targeting the workers.
“We never share any photos of these people in our reports. We never share any locations, specific locations for security reasons. This is real,” Korkuna said.
Russian shelling of civilian sites such as hospitals and theater in the southern city of Mariupol, which served as shelter as well as hospitals and other civilian shelters, raises concerns that Russian forces may use publicly released information online and on social media to target aid workers.
The World Health Organization told the United Nations on Thursday it had verified 43 Russian attacks on hospitals and warned that WHO supply convoys of humanitarian medical supplies had been blocked.
“The Russians started going after civilians and specifically collecting information from the web almost from day one,” said James Hodson, CEO of the nonprofit. AI For Good Foundation based in the Bay Area, “pointing bombs at hospitals, medical centers, grain stores that were specifically listed where people could go for help.”
Hodson says that’s why the AI For Good Foundation is partnering with other nonprofits and Amazon Web Services to launch a mobile app with built-in privacy and security controls to help people locate services and supplies in Ukraine and to obtain emergency assistance when needed.
“The app will allow them to send a beacon for help,” Hodson said, “rather than having to call and explain and give the location, which is stored in the app and we can go there. to access.”
AI For Good plans to hire more workers to provide on-the-ground support in Ukrainian cities and roll out the app in Ukraine next month so aid workers can have a safer way to communicate with people in need.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.