The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused irreparable damage in Eastern Europe. The armed conflict has taken thousands of lives as millions of people attempt to flee the country.
Data published by the United Nations on April 9 counted 1,793 killed and 2,439 injured since the beginning of the war on February 24.
However, tens of thousands more are feared dead, according to Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko. President Biden has commented that the armed conflict has escalated to the point of “war crimes” and “genocide” from Russia.
This conflict has become a global issue as more than 4.6 million refugees have attempted to escape Ukraine.
This issue has affected the South Florida region and Florida International University, as the census bureau estimates over 20,000 foreign-born Ukrainian individuals living in the entire state of Florida.
Dr. Alejandra Parra, Executive Director of FIU Global Mobility office that houses the Office of International Student and Scholar Services and Education Abroad, is co-chairing the new task force to assist FIU students and faculty affected by the incidents caused by the “senseless war” in Ukraine.
In an email on March 18, the university declared the creation of the task force in order to assist the FIU Ukrainian community, composed of 30 students and 28 faculty and staff members.
The task force’s efforts concern: “the exchange of information and community education, advocacy for international students and scholars, assistance to those in our community affected by this conflict, and relief efforts by members of the university community wishing to help.”
According to Dr. Parra, the task force solely elaborates and provides recommendations for the interim provost and the interim FIU president in order to provide proper assistance for the FIU community.
Despite the current presidential search taking place at FIU, the task force is actively taking steps in disseminating information and communicating with students about updates and resources available on campus.
Their website cites information on recent immigration updates, financial support resources, FIU-hosted events relating to the armed conflict, and external resources from across South Florida.
Additionally, Parra cited an FIU SGA resolution, which the task force passed on to the interim provost and president, to allow Ukrainian students to be charged in-state tuition amid the crisis.
The task force and the ISSS office was also able to assist FIU in creating a separate emergency student fund for the Ukrainian students needing financial assistance during these difficult times, as well as providing micro scholarships for Ukrainian students.
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, Parra is proud of the work and assistance the task force has currently provided thus far, and will continue to work as long as the crisis continues in Ukraine.
Dr. Parra said, “The students have been extremely resilient, while being very sad and stressed because their families are in Ukraine and not knowing what will happen.”