By Laura Studley, CNN
The New York Police Department is partnering with the Russian American Officers Association (RAOA) to gather medical supplies for the people of Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of the country, the association’s president said Friday.
The RAOA and the non-profit organization it is working with are collecting ibuprofen, aspirin, gauze and first aid kits, Ukrainian officer and RAOA Vice President Stanislav Zubyk said.
A full list of desired supplies also includes bandages, acetaminophen and tourniquets. Collection boxes will be placed at all 77 patrol precincts, according to Max Tolentino, NYPD Community Affairs Bureau inspector.
“We’ve always been united, and right now we are more united than ever,” said Artem Kuzmin, a Russian NYPD officer and president of RAOA, during a news conference Friday. “Our goal is to help the people of Ukraine and make sure that we collect as many supplies as we can get to people as quickly as possible.”
Since the invasion began on February 24, more than 1.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations. More than half crossed into Poland, while others went to other neighboring countries including Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said.
In the besieged city of Mariupol, the mayor said civilians are trapped without power and water. Multiple grocery stores have been destroyed and pharmacies are out of medicine, a Doctors Without Borders staff member said Saturday. US officials have warned Russia is increasingly striking civilian infrastructure.
The NYPD’s initiative will last through March 11, Tolentino said. The supplies will be brought to one of NYPD’s warehouses, where they will be sorted, packaged and then taken to New Jersey to be shipped to Poland, he said.
“We not standing for the politics,” Kuzmin said. “We’re standing for the people of Ukraine or the people of Russia and that’s our goal.”
The conflict has been “extremely difficult,” said Zubyk, who added the focus needs to be on what can be done here, and that begins with sending aid.
“We’re united by the fact that we’re all immigrants, we’re all immigrants, we went through the immigrant experience in the United States,” Zubyk said “We share similar backgrounds. … We want to get the help out. This is what we’re focused on. We’re not deterred by anything else.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell commended the efforts in a tweet.
“When people need help the most — in our city or across the world — New York’s Finest never fail to step up and help,” Sewell tweeted. “Always amazed by the compassion and dedication of NYPD officers. Their message of unity is loud and clear.”
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