Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for humanitarian help has been answered by the European Commission, the government of Canada and dozens of celebrities assembled by advocacy nonprofit Global Citizen, including Oscar winners Billie Eilish and Finneas, actor Hugh Jackman, as well as Madonna and Grammy nominee Jon Batiste.
“Stand Up for Ukraine,” which organizers are calling a “social media rally,” will take place April 8 to raise awareness for a global pledging summit on April 9. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host the pledging summit in hopes of raising funds from governments, companies, philanthropies and individuals for Ukrainian refugees, as well as for refugees from conflicts in Afghanistan, South Sudan and Yemen.
According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, more than 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the war, with 3.5 million already fleeing the country and 6.5 million fleeing their homes, but remaining in Ukraine. Billions will be needed to provide those refugees food and shelter, as well as to support the countries that are currently hosting the refugees.
“A Ukrainian child has become a refugee almost every single second since the start of the war,” von der Leyen said in a statement. “The world must stand up for them.”
Global Citizen hopes its supporters will help encourage donors to act quickly and more generously, with help from a wide range of A-list stars. Celebrities — ranging from Pharrell Williams to Billy Joel, Stevie Nicks to Stevie Wonder, Usher to Juanes -- plan to use their talents and social media clout to direct fans to forukraine.com. At that site, supporters can donate to GlobalGiving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, or take actions to encourage governments or companies to make donations.
“History has shown us that conflict and poverty are closely interconnected, resulting in the weakening of the rule of law, a collapse in economic development and often catastrophic humanitarian situations,” Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans said in a prepared statement. “Global Citizen has a history of responding rapidly to humanitarian crises, and this is no different.”
Throughout the war, Zelensky and other officials in his government have emphasized the power of celebrities to amplify the plight of the Ukrainian people around the world, including in Russia. Recently, Zelensky thanked actors Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher for raising $35 million through a GoFundMe campaign for Ukrainian refugees. Over the weekend, he thanked U2 and its singer Bono for helping organize “Stand Up for Ukraine,” which Zelensky hopes will raise funds “to restore our homes, to restore our Ukraine.”
“Millions of Ukrainians had their own home, had their own dreams, had their own quiet place,” Zelensky said in a video message. “They had their own home until Russian missiles, bombs, shells came in — until the invaders have come and have destroyed and burned down absolutely everything.”
Zelensky said he did not want to call the people fleeing their homes “refugees.” He wants to call them “displaced people,” because he believes it is only temporary.
“We are doing everything possible to bring peace back,” Zelensky said. “We are doing everything possible to help each of our citizens wait for this horrible period to end. Wherever they are.”