St Mary's study group assisting with Ukrainian refugee efforts
STAFF and students from St Mary's University College in Belfast on a study visit to Poland are assisting with the Ukrainian refugee efforts.
Dr Gerard McCann and a small group of postgraduate students are in south-east Poland and have become involved in working with Ukrainian and Polish staff and students on ways to assist with refugee relief.
Initially in Poland for the 'Beyond Borders' programme, the focus changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine last month and the resulting humanitarian crisis in the region.
The delegation is assisting with refugee issues and have been part of inter-university discussions on higher education provision through this crisis, including online courses and bespoke support systems for students and staff who remain in Ukraine or are refugees.
Dr McCann said it was important to help the young people caught up in the conflict.
"The humanitarian need of Ukrainian refugees is on a scale not seen since the 1940s," he said.
"European countries and civil society urgently need to direct resources and expertise towards the fleeing Ukrainian families and help the work to end this war.
"Education has its role to play, and we need to look at all options to assist Ukrainian young people to get through this horrendous time."
St Mary’s is also keen to help Ukraine refugees and is appealing to staff to consider making any spare accommodation available to host refugee individuals and families.
The college is also looking at taking in Ukrainian refugee undergraduates to continue their university studies.
A spokesman for St Mary's said the college are "exploring ongoing actions with our key partners" in the University of Lviv, the Catholic University of Lviv and the Lesia Ukrainka University.
"We expect concrete plans to be proposed on the return of the St Mary's study group," he said.
The college is also assisting the Catholic chaplaincy at Queen’s University to provide English language courses, while students are being encouraged to put themselves forward to help with this vital support for newly arrived refugees.
Staff and students have also been working with QUB and St Brigid's Parish in south Belfast to support the chaplaincy's Ukraine Appeal for supplies as well as continuing a fundraising drive for charities working inside Ukraine.
:: The Irish News has partnered with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – which brings together charities including Concern Worldwide, the Red Cross and Save The Children – to raise money for refugees fleeing Ukraine.
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