A woman is overwhelmed by emotion in the backyard of a house damaged by a Russian airstrike, according to locals, in Gorenka, outside the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 2. Russia renewed its assault on Ukraine's second-largest city in a pounding that lit up the skyline with balls of fire over populated areas, even as both sides said they were ready to resume talks aimed at stopping the new devastating war in Europe.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

As the horrors of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the suffering caused by war are broadcast around the world, protests have been held throughout Los Angeles County and relief efforts are underway.

Local politicians are passing motions and resolutions calling for divestments from Russia and protection for Ukrainian immigrants and refugees. Many are asking how they can help and have turned to the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

This historic center has been a hub for the community as a central meeting spot where events have been held and traditions are celebrated with a Saturday school and Ukrainian arts. It’s a place where music and dance are kept alive, and beautiful Ukrainian clothing is proudly worn.

But since Russia has invaded Ukraine, the center’s phone has continued to ring nonstop to ask, “What can be done?”

Those at the center encourage people to contact their representatives and the White House and to turn to relief organizations to donate. They are keeping people informed through their website, which lists organizations where donations can be made.

Those who work at relief organizations stress the importance of doing research to ensure the organization is legitimate and recommends that the group be “on the ground,” and have a history of charitable support in Ukraine.

Those who are interested in donating are encouraged to refer to the center’s website. One Los Angeles-based organization on the list is the International Medical Corps which provides health and medical services and humanitarian assistance in conflict disaster zones.

“People need food, water, medications sanitation services, and shelter — they need all of the basics inside the country,” said Margaret Traub Head of Global Initiatives for International Medical Corp.

Andrey Goncharuk, 68, a member of the territorial defense stands in the backyard of a house damaged by a Russian airstrike, according to locals, in Gorenka, outside the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 2. Russia renewed its assault on Ukraine’s second-largest city in a pounding that lit up the skyline with balls of fire over populated areas, even as both sides said they were ready to resume talks aimed at stopping the new devastating war in Europe. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

“We have been in Ukraine since 2014 and currently have a team of about 30 people there,” she said. “Our primary goal is to keep them safe and many [of our workers] are on the move — we are now supplementing with additional teams that are being deployed to Ukraine.

“We are also helping [refugees] in Moldova, Poland, Romania, where those who have fled Ukraine are — there are 12 million people inside the country who are in need of immediate urgent assistance and an additional 600,000 to 700,000 who have fled; the needs run the gambit. Many who have fled across the border have been able to seek refuge with relatives, but as time goes on, transition centers are expected to fill with many people unable to find shelter.”

While people look for ways to donate, they may have an impulse to gather goods to donate. But as Traub points out, that actually makes it more difficult for relief organizations.

“It’s very expensive to ship and send supplies and better to support organizations who are on the ground. It’s a war zone and the groups on the ground that have a presence who are able to procure supplies locally. There are import/export issues and it is better to have groups that have a history there,” Traub said.

City Council Introduces Resolution

As relief efforts are underway, both the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council this week formally condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The five Los Angeles City Council members introduced a resolution that calls for international or federal divestment of all holdings from and investments in Russia and condemns Putin’s actions or that of any country that supports Russia, publicly traded Russian companies, real estate, and private equity.

“The city of Los Angeles stands firmly with Ukraine and its people and strongly condemns President Putin’s reckless actions against Ukraine,” the resolution states.

Council President Nury Martinez co-introduced the resolution with Councilmembers Paul Koretz, Kevin de León, Monica Rodriguez, and Nithya Raman. Councilmember Joe Buscaino, who seconded the resolution, also introduced a motion aimed at declaring Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv a Los Angeles Sister City as a gesture of solidarity.

If Kyiv is declared a Sister City, Los Angeles would be able to send retired city goods, including fire trucks and ambulances.

“The world continues to be horrified by the images and videos coming from Kyiv, Ukraine; however, people across the globe have also been inspired by the resilience and fortitude of the people of Ukraine including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — everyday citizens who have taken a stand for their country, democracy, and freedom,” Buscaino said.

“A sister cities relationship is a `people-to-people’ program aimed at establishing greater friendship and understanding with peoples of other nations and that relationship enables the city to donate retired city goods such as fire trucks and ambulances,” he continued.

“Los Angeles should do everything in its power to support the people of Ukraine in their fight for our shared values of self-determination, democracy, and freedom.” It was unclear when the resolution will come up for a vote.

Supervisors Adopt Motion

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted a motion to formally condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and urged federal elected leaders to take steps ensuring support and protection of Ukrainian immigrants and refugees.

“We must condemn this unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression by the Russian military against Ukraine, assist any Ukrainian-Americans in Los Angeles County who have been impacted by this crisis, and offer our support to refugees fleeing the violence,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who introduced the motion.

The motion specifically called for a letter signed by all five county supervisors to be sent to Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, urging the Russian government to immediately begin peace talks to resolve the conflict.

It also called for another five-signature letter to be sent to President Joe Biden and members of the county’s congressional delegation asking that temporary protected status be provided for Ukrainian nationals in the United States and providing support for relatives of Ukrainian-Americans to relocate to the US In addition, the letter requested additional funding for nonprofit groups working with the US State Department to resettle refugees.

The board’s action also directed the county Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Office of Immigrant Affairs to assist county residents searching for information or help for relatives and friends impacted by the conflict.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, with support from Hahn, amended the motion to request that the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association divest any Russian holdings, and ask the county CEO to report back in two weeks on the possibility of canceling county contracts with companies that do business in Russia.

In a released statement, US Senator Alex Padilla and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chairs of the Senate and House Judiciary Subcommittees on Immigration, called on the Biden administration to designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Ukraine.

“Ukraine is under assault in a brazen and unprovoked invasion by Russia that has the potential to create the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. The Biden administration must work with allies in the region to provide refugee and humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression, and should take immediate action to designate Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure to protect Ukrainian nationals in the US.”

For information on LA’s Ukraine Cultural Center go to: ukrainianculturecenterla.com.

For more information on how you can help and donate to relief organizations go to: https://stopwarinukraine.com/stand-with-ukraine-los-angeles/#donate For more information on the International medical corp go to: internationalmedicalcorps.com.

City News Service contributed to this story