In Ukraine, at least 12 million people have fled their homes since the Russian Federation offensive, the United Nations say, of which 6.3 million are displaced across Europe, while 6.6 million people are still thought to be displaced inside Ukraine itself. Among them are, according to UNICEF, at least 1.5 million children are among those displaced outside their home country, facing risks described as ‘real and growing’.
‘We are witnessing a new war in the heart of Europe, where humanitarian needs are multiplying every day. Children are witnessing violence and conflict that no child should ever see,’ says Country Director Hector Carpintero from DRC in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In response, many individuals feel compelled to help somehow and have begun various support initiatives. One of those initiatives is in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a city whose citizens suffered through the longest military siege in modern history for 1,425 days.
Alida, 11 years old, has so far baked almost 1000 ‘Cookies for Peace’ between March and June 2022 to raise funds for displaced children. Her sister Elia, 15, designed a logo and packaging including a blue and yellow ribbon, and Adnan Smajić has been selling the cookies at his ‘Franz und Sophie’ Tea Shop in Sarajevo. Alida’s classmates and teachers from Bloom School in Sarajevo took the fundraising to the next level, holding their own bake sale.
‘Together, we hope to send a message that while we cannot stop the war, every small act by individuals and groups across the world can hopefully make a difference on some level while also showing empathy, unity, support and constructive action aimed at Ukrainian children and all other children suffering in conflict,’ said their parents Ivo and Nicole.
Alida and Elia’s grandmother is from Mariupol, Ukraine. Their great grandfather worked at the Azovstal steel factory, and the entire family had to evacuate the city in 1943 because of World War II. The trauma of their grandmother who experienced being a child refugee during the war, never left her.
“If only organisations like DRC existed when our grandmother was a child, her life might have turned out very differently. And of course, many people in Sarajevo know exactly how difficult it is to endure such desperate circumstances as children in war or as children displaced, which is why many Bosnians and Herzegovinians have given generously to this fundraiser over these past months.”
Together with Adnan Smajic and their friends and family around the world, Alida and Elia have raised more than 3,500 Euro of which 1,000 Euro were directed to DRC Danish Refugee Council headquarters to support activities which improve the quality of life of displaced children from Ukraine and other parts of the world. Donations were also directed towards UNICEF and Voices of Children Ukraine.