Bernese musicians evacuate Ukrainians: “Escape to Romania costs us 15 dollars”

published13. May 2022, 14:47

44-year-old Bänz Margot organizes evacuations by bus in Ukraine and offers humanitarian aid on site. But declining solidarity, a lack of donations and expensive diesel prices pose challenges for his association.

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Since the beginning of the war, the 44-year-old Bernese musician Bänz Margot has been helping people fleeing the Ukraine with his aid organization “Human Front Aid”.

Human Front Aid

In the meantime, they have been able to enable almost 3,000 people to emigrate to Moldova, Romania or Poland.

In the meantime, they have been able to enable almost 3,000 people to emigrate to Moldova, Romania or Poland.

Human Front Aid

On site, the association also supports the local population with the supply of supplies, medicines and hygiene products.

On site, the association also supports the local population with the supply of supplies, medicines and hygiene products.

Human Front Aid

  • A musician from Bern has already helped 3,000 Ukrainians to leave the country.

  • With his association “Human Front Aid” he also organizes help for the local population in Odessa.

  • But the association lacks donations, which poses financial challenges.

Since the beginning of the war, the 44-year-old Bernese musician Bänz Margot has been working in the Ukraine with his aid organization «Human Front Aid» for people who are fleeing. “We help people to leave Ukraine, we organize bus trips across the border,” says Margot. In the meantime, they have been able to enable almost 3,000 people to emigrate to Moldova, Romania or Poland. According to Margot, a flight to Moldova costs the aid organization around nine US dollars per person, to Romania around 15 dollars and to Poland around 50 dollars. For the refugees, the exit is of course free of charge.

On site, the association also supports the local population with the supply of supplies, medicines and hygiene products. “We work closely with local aid organizations, authorities and the police,” says the Bernese.

“People need me here”

Ukraine is his second home; he had been there almost more often than in Switzerland in recent years. «When the war broke out, I was in Odessa. The night before I was sitting in a bar with friends – the next day I had to leave Ukraine in a hurry,” says Margot. He fled to Moldova, where he campaigned for Ukrainians who had arrived there and founded “Human Front Aid” together with colleagues.

The 44-year-old has been back for a week now. «I went to Odessa again. I just couldn’t stand being away,” says Margot. “People need me here.” Going back to Switzerland was never an option for him. “I had the feeling that on-site help was the best solution,” says Margot. But the situation is not easy, there have been several bombings and rocket attacks in recent days, with a shopping center and a warehouse on Tuesday were destroyed.

“I can’t stop until the war is over”

The experiences of the Ukrainians concern the 44-year-old: “You can’t put it into words, there are other dimensions of suffering.” The only way to deal with it is to help and save people. Just watching is not an option. “I’m lucky that I have a Swiss passport and could leave at any time, and at the same time I have the support of friends and family. The people here don’t have that luxury,» says Margot. It is therefore particularly important to take the problems and fears of the refugees seriously.

“It’s good to put a smile on people’s faces – even if it’s just for a moment,” says the Bernese. Many would thank him, but for him and his team it was a matter of course to help. For him it has almost become a kind of compulsion, because: “If I don’t help, then nobody will.” He could only stop when the war was over.

Lack of donations and expensive, rare diesel

According to Margot, the work of Human Front Aid does not always go according to plan. There is a lack of donations. “We are experiencing less financial solidarity than a few weeks ago. But we are still dependent on support, there is no other way,” says Margot. At the moment the organization is mainly supported by private individuals and companies, meanwhile money is regularly running out. “Recently, for example, we tried to somehow scrape together 900 francs so that a bus could drive across the border again,” says the Bernese. The diesel for buses is currently the most expensive, and Ukraine is particularly short of fuel at the moment.

“We have the privilege of receiving vouchers and priority to diesel, but we pay for everything ourselves,” says the musician. Over time this will cost you money. A liter of diesel currently costs $1.90. “Everyone in the club works on a voluntary basis. We pay wages to the Ukrainian bus drivers,” says Margot. “When I share a call for donations on social media and nobody responds, it hurts me,” says Margot. According to the 44-year-old, people in Switzerland no longer see the seriousness of the war. “But here in Odessa he is always present.”

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