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BA’s bag-limit hampers aid for Ukraine

05 June 2015


Direct hit: a resident observes damage to his flat by shelling as Russian-backed separatists and government forces fight in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine

Direct hit: a resident observes damage to his flat by shelling as Russian-backed separatists and government forces fight in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine

A SMALL Christian charity working in Ukraine says that it is struggling to get donations of food and money over to the country, after a reduction in the amount of baggage that its missionaries are allowed to take with them.

The charity, Hope Now, based in Southampton, had been taking donations to the 4000 people it works with through churches and other partners in central Ukraine, where it supports orphanages, the elderly, schoolchildren, and prisoners.

Its chief executive, Jon Budgell, said that he had previously been allowed by British Airways (BA) to take three free bags with him as a missionary, but only two were now allowed.

Donations of second-hand good-quality clothing, most of it destined for orphanages, are now piling up in the office, as they cannot be flown out.

Problems transferring money through banks in Ukraine to the charity's staff in the region mean that Mr Budgell now has to fly over the wages and other donations himself.

He said: "People give us donations, but we have now been limited to only two suitcases. I have spoken to the British Embassy in Kiev, but they could only suggest we hired a van to take stuff over, but that didn't work out. We will find ways around it; if necessary, I will fly out more often. I go out there every five to six weeks as it is."

BA said that it tried to be as flexible as possible with charities and did on occasion allow missionaries to take three bags, although its normal policy was to allow two free bags for charity workers.

Its community investment manager, Mary Barry, said: "We get a massive number of requests on a daily basis; so we have to impose a limit somehow. It depends on the nature of the request and what people are bringing. . .We try to talk to them to limit what we give. We work with a lot of charities and try to be flexible."

The charity works in central Cherkasy, a region that, in the past year, has become home to many refugees fleeing the troubled eastern Ukraine.

Hope Now began after its founder, the Revd Vic Jackopson, a Baptist minister, visited Ukraine in the 1980s and saw the huge social problems which the country was facing.

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