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Las Vegas native shows efforts, challenges in the refugee crisis in Ukraine

A Las Vegas native and Clark High School graduate gives a detailed look into the challenges facing millions of refugees fleeing from war-torn Ukraine, and the e
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 9:20 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) -A Las Vegas native and Clark High School graduate gives a detailed look into the challenges facing millions of refugees fleeing from war-torn Ukraine, and the efforts of volunteers trying to help.

“Once they crossed the border, there’s the immediate feeling of relief and safety because they’ve been through hell. But unfortunately, their journey can’t actually stop here. There was the need for buses to be taking people out of the country,” said Alex Stepanenko, 33, who graduated from Clark High School in 2007. Her family still resides in Las Vegas. FOX5 recently profiled her mother’s efforts to deliver $7,000 of medical equipment to Poland and bring back refugees to Las Vegas

Stepanenko has stayed for weeks on the Polish border with group Russians for Ukraine, assisting other organizations, and working at a shopping center and former Tesco that has now been converted into a humanitarian aid center. She has been helping coordinate bus trips for refugees to Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium..

“There’s never enough translators. A lot of the Ukrainians that are coming through don’t know English, or Polish or some of the other languages,” Stepanenko said.

“Thousands of other people that are here volunteering, that’s basically everyone’s story: everyone felt like they couldn’t just sit at home and watch what was happening,” she said. Stepanenko also notes that many refugees have trouble obtaining aid, due to the lack of mobility of larger organizations. “The lion’s share of work is falling on the shoulders of regular people,” Stepanenko said.

More than 5 million people have fled Ukraine so far, with millions more displaced from their homes within the country.

“These are the people that have been under bombs and under a constant psychological, if not actual physical threat for much longer. So they need a gentle approach. And they need a personal approach,” Stepanenko said.

Here are the organizations Stepanenko has been working in conjunction with, on the ground, that need support: Operation Sunflower, World Central Kitchen, Global Disaster Relief Team