The year of unbreakable strength: How world celebrities contribute to the reconstruction of ruined cities of Ukraine
Who and how much has already invested and who else may join in
During the year of full-scale russian aggression, Ukraine has undergone terrible destruction. The infrastructure of Bucha town was destroyed by 30%, Irpin by 70%, and Izium by 80%. In the Kyiv Oblast, almost 27,000 objects have been damaged, the lion's share of which are residential buildings. Several thousand objects were destroyed in Kharkiv's Pivnichna Saltivka district alone. Before February 24, 2022, more than 300,000 people lived there. This is seven times more than in the Principality of Monaco or as many as in Iceland or the Maldives. In total, according to the Kharkiv City Hall, more than 4,500 buildings were damaged in the city, 500 of which are beyond repair.
Kherson has suffered significant damage, with its infrastructure damaged by 30-40%. Some cities in eastern Ukraine have been almost completely destroyed: Severodonetsk, Popasna, Rubizhne, Schastia, Kreminna, Mariupol, Lysychansk, Vugledar, Volnovakha – the scale of destruction there reaches 90%.
No one is currently able to give an exact number of damaged facilities in Ukraine, as the russians are shelling Ukraine every day. According to preliminary data, the buildings destroyed worth 50 billion euros.
Read also: Who is to rebuild Ukraine: Key recommendations by the German Marshall Fund
When presenting the Rebuild Ukraine Programme, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmygal emphasised that it would be the largest reconstruction project since World War II. However, the entire civilised world has already joined the rebuilding of the affected areas. And while government delegations are reaching multibillion-dollar agreements at the highest level, everyone can help Ukraine survive and recover.
Mind found out who among world celebrities help rebuild Ukraine and how they do it.
What sources of funds are being used to restore Ukraine?
As of January 10, 2023, the total amount of money needed to rebuild Ukraine, which should come from already known sources, was about UAH 110 billion. In total, this year the government expects to receive $17 billion, or UAH 680 billion, for the priority restoration of damaged and destroyed property.
Four key sources of funding for recovery projects have been identified so far:
- Confiscated russian assets. The government has already allocated UAH 17 billion of confiscated funds from russian banks to the government's budgetary Fund for the Elimination of the Consequences of Armed Aggression. The process of confiscation of russian assets in Ukraine continues. We are now aware of a court decision in the United States that authorised the seizure of $5.4 million in the bank account of russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev. In addition, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Melanie Joly, announced the arrest and confiscation of $26 million of Granite Capital Holdings Ltd, owned by russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
- Budget funds. This year, UAH 35.5 billion from the state budget will go to the Fund for the Elimination of the Consequences of Armed Aggression by paying the NBU a portion of its profit.
- Funds from international partners. Many countries, including Norway, Japan, France, and others, have already declared their readiness to contribute to the restoration of Ukraine's infrastructure. As well as the world's largest investment banks.
- Donor funds raised on the UNITED24 fundraising platform. It is this platform that attracts world celebrities to rebuild Ukraine's infrastructure.
The first facilities to be restored under the UNITED24 project are going to be 18 buildings in the Kyiv Oblast: in the towns of Irpin, Borodianka, Gostomel, and the villages of Buzova and Myla in the Dmytrivska Amalgamated Territorial Community. According to the platform, this will allow 4,237 Ukrainians to return to their homes.
"It is impossible to calculate the exact amount of funds raised by UNITED24 ambassadors, because one mention of a fundraiser by a famous person can bring a large donor to this or any other fundraiser. However, in general, we can talk about millions of dollars," UNITED24 explains.
MunHausen Residential Complex in Irpin, which is being restored with the help of Michel Azanavicius and Elina Svitolina
What celebrities join the rebuilding of Ukraine?
The first houses were selected through the UNITED24 platform by a special interagency commission. The request for reconstruction was submitted by the Kyiv Oblast Military Administration. "The funds raised through UNITED24 will be used to restore first the apartment buildings that were partially damaged, so more people will be able to return home as soon as possible," explained Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction of Ukraine.
"The celebrities who have taken the houses under their patronage are ambassadors of the UNITED24 fundraising platform, with whom the project team already has a warm relationship. The topic of reconstruction appeals to them because it is an opportunity to help people return home and start their lives anew. Residents of Irpin and Bucha have experienced horrors that the whole world has learned about. Their stories have left no one indifferent, and supporting them is a mission that resonates with many," the UNITED24 team explained to Mind.
Footballer Andriy Shevchenko became one of the first UNITED24 ambassadors. In the summer, he visited the city of Irpin and saw the state of the local Champion Stadium. The sports facility was destroyed by russian shells back in March 2022. There were marks on the field after no less than 12 "hits", and the stands and support facilities were completely destroyed. But children played at the stadium despite the destruction.
To rebuild the stadium, Andriy Shevchenko raised the first 150,000 euros of the required 600,000 thanks to the Italian football club AC Milan. The rest was raised through the UNITED24 programme. The fundraising is now almost complete.
A five-storey building at 14-G, Lysenko Street in Irpin was damaged during the occupation of the town by russian invaders. Before the war, this building housed a boxing gym where a famous Ukrainian boxing coach Oleksiy Dzhunkivsky trained children. The russian military shot him dead right in the hall where the children used to train.
Oleksandr Usyk, the absolute heavyweight boxing champion of the world, became an ambassador of UNITED24 in October 2022, and on his birthday, January 17, 2023, he announced the start of fundraising for the restoration of this Irpin house. Usyk chose from 18 houses and intuitively chose this one. And when he inspected the building, he learned that his friend, coach Oleksiy Dzhunkivsky, had died here.
Oleksandr Usyk made the first donation of $205,000 out of the required $330,000. By early February, $243,000 had already been raised.
Michelle Azanavicius and Elina Svitolina
French filmmaker Michel Azanavicius took under his patronage the reconstruction of two houses in Irpin – the Zatyshny Dvir and the MunHausen residential complexes. He was assisted by the famous Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina.
Azanavicius organised a charity auction. Dozens of film industry representatives from all over the world donated lots. In particular, Catherine Deneuve donated her own cosmetic bag, Natalie Portman donated several rare posters with her autograph. Tom Hanks donated a typewriter from his personal collection, Alain Delon donated a photo from the movie "Swimming Pool" printed on wood, and Thomas Bangalte, a member of Daft Punk, put up for auction a robot helmet from Daft Punk's Electroma. Thanks to this help, the residents of 130 apartments from the residential building destroyed by the russian occupiers in Irpin at 42, Davydchuk Street will be able to return home.
In addition, Michel Azanavicius contributed to the reconstruction of the Izium Town Hospital in Kharkiv Oblast, which was partially destroyed and looted by the russian military. During the occupation, four operating rooms and an intensive care unit were devastated, a tomograph was destroyed, and the lift shaft either. Windows were smashed in all the buildings, and the walls were damaged by shell fragments. During her visit to France, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska presented her charitable foundation and called on the international community to join her in rebuilding the hospital. Azanavicius donated half of the proceeds from the auction mentioned above to the UNITED24 initiative and the other half to Olena Zelenska's foundation. He made a contribution of 125,000 euros.
Demna Gvasalia, Creative Director of Balenciaga, has also joined the Rebuild Ukraine project. He understands what war is and its consequences. At the age of 12, Demna lost his home during the Georgian-Abkhazian war and became a refugee. To support Ukrainians, he released a sweatshirt with the print "Glory to Ukraine!" and a QR code for fundraising on UNITED24. The sweatshirts have been sold worldwide, bringing in over €1 million. 100% of the proceeds will be used to rebuild Ukraine.
Outside of the UNITED24 platform, there are also activities of world sports and show business stars. In particular, the famous Polish basketball player, NBA star Marcin Gortat held a charity match to help Ukraine. On June 16, 2022, the Gortat team played against Wojsko Polskie in Łódź. The funds raised were donated to rebuild Ukrainian homes.
Who can help rebuild Ukraine?
As UNITED24 told Mind, anyone can become an ambassador of the platform. The project team offers several options to choose from – the houses differ in the amount of money to be raised, the number of people who lived there, and their stories. "Everyone chooses what is to their liking, what they feel most strongly about," the initiators say.
After choosing a specific investment object, the platform helps ambassadors find potential donors, organises interviews and broadcasts, accompanies fundraisers, and does everything possible to achieve the goal together.
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