The help-a-refugee way to save Ukraine

Generosity toward the war’s refugees, especially non-Ukrainians, helps counter Russia’s excuse for the invasion.

A student covers herself in blanket at the Medyka border in Poland after fleeing from Ukraine, Feb. 28.

One video that’s gone viral out of Ukraine shows volunteers on a train giving food to university students of various countries trying to reach the Polish border. Some 76,000 students from 155 nations were in Ukraine when Russia attacked Feb. 24. They, like nearly 1 million Ukrainians, have fled a war that is more than a clash of armies or the preservation of an independent nation.

The act of generosity toward the non-Ukrainian refugees is a reminder of why so many countries oppose this war. Certain values such as individual rights are globally embraced and rooted in principles made practical anywhere. They are not tied to a specific culture or “civilization.”

On the other hand, President Vladimir Putin says “Russia is not just a country, but a distinct civilization,” one that includes Ukraine and many other Slavic peoples. For him, Ukraine’s drift toward the European Union’s project of implementing universal values must be stopped.

As the war escalates, the EU is rushing to help innocent civilians from Ukraine who are pouring into the border states of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, and Romania. In Romania, for example, 175 Egyptian students who fled Ukraine were airlifted to Cairo this week. Moldova aided the evacuation of nearly 1,000 Chinese students. Polish soldiers helped nearly 150 Zambian students reach the Warsaw airport. In the United States, a Texas-based nonprofit, Sewa International, has launched a help line to evacuate international students stranded in Ukraine.

The EU’s 27 member states have united like never before in preparing for a flow of refugees from Ukraine. “We must show the power that lies in our democracies,” says Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU’s executive arm. “We must show the power of people that choose their independent paths, freely and democratically. This is our show of force.”

The people who remain in Ukraine to fight Russian forces, adds Ms. von der Leyen, are “also fighting for universal values and they are willing to die for them.”

There’s nothing more universal than strangers feeding other strangers in a crisis, just like those desperate students on the train to Poland.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to The help-a-refugee way to save Ukraine
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today