An official event dedicated to the AIDs Candlelight Memorial was held on May 15 near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.
Representatives of international and non-governmental organizations, both Ukrainian and German, representatives of key communities took part in the action.
“For the first time, we honor the memory of people who died of AIDS during the war, which adds even more symbolism and value to every human life. Today, access to ARVs and not only must be uninterrupted for all patients, this is what our efforts are aimed at, – said Sergii Filippovych, Director of SoS_project, ICF “Alliance fo Public Health”. – There is a large community of Ukrainians and people living with HIV in Germany, and there are even more of them with military refugees. Germany is one of the three European countries where Ukrainian patients migrate most often to seek shelter from February 24, according to our coordinating service #HelpNow. That’s why we supported the #HelpNowHUB program in Emergence, which is already working hard. In Ukraine, the situation remains difficult. Many medical facilities have been destroyed, and access to medical services has been hampered in a number of south-eastern regions of Ukraine due to Russian aggression and the occupation of cities. Many doctors, social workers and other civilians have been killed, and I want to underline the heroism and resilience of Ukrainians today. It’s unbelievable: doctors continue to save lives under bombings, social workers continue to work, deliver medicine on foot or by bicycle to patients, and the incredible work of the volunteer community can be talked about for hours. I would like to thank the Alliance Consulting, our partners in Germany and international partners for supporting Ukrainian patients, supporting Ukraine and the future. We will definitely restore and even improve our country and the medical structure and health care system in particular.”
As part of the event, a memorial exhibition was organized – The Quilt memorial, which commemorated people who died of AIDS. Everyone wrote the names of their relatives and friends who were taken away by AIDS. The event was initiated and coordinated by the Association of Refugees Living with HIV from Ukraine in Germany (the Association).
“We need not only to remember those who died, but also to take care of those who are alive and need our support today,” said Volodymyr Zhovtyak, one of the leaders of the Association and co-chair of ECUO. – That is why We, Ukrainians in Germany, unite as the community and continue to help each other. Ukrainian refugees went through the war, lost their loved ones and need medical, psychological, social, humanitarian assistance, so today we are here for that. Thank you to Germany for your support and to your partners for their cooperation.”
Jens Ahrens of the Berliner AIDS-Hilfe said it was important to think about people dying of AIDS every day. Today, not all people have access to ARV therapy. And it’s worth talking out loud about. According to him, the international community is well aware of the need to combat stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and representatives of key communities. He said more efforts were needed, especially today, to improve access to HIV treatment and end AIDS deaths.
The participants continued action and marched from the Brandenburg Gate to the Russian Embassy in Berlin, where an appeal was made to the Russian Consulate. “We want to honour the memory of the lost ones and draw attention to the victims of Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine. Because of the war, Ukrainians with HIV were forced to leave their homeland, and faced the problem of meeting their basic needs. Stop yourself, stop your political leaders, because your children will be responsible for this genocide of the Ukrainian people, which is happening in the heart of Europe in the XXI century, “- said the organizers.
“Today is a day of pain for us. We remember those comrades who were with us, who taught us to take therapy, took us to doctors, whom we helped to re-build their lives, cope not only with their illnesses, but also with pressure and repression from the state. This year’s Remembrance Day is unlike any other. Russia’s war against Ukraine has completely turned off the normal life of Ukrainians. We feel this pain. There are 4 people in our organization and we have supported more than 80 people on social support in the last 2 months. These are women, children, elderly people who fled from Russian missiles. People in the 21st century continue to save their lives and we will be happy to help everyone here in Berlin. BerLUN is against the war, We express our support for Ukraine, “said Roman Ledkov, a spokesman for Berlun e-V.
It is an interesting fact that on May 15, 2003 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in an official appeal to the Ukrainian people recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide. Therefore, on this day, the organizers of the action also remembered the people who died in the 1930s from the artificial famine created by the Soviet authorities in Ukraine, which killed millions of Ukrainians. The problem of famine and the humanitarian crisis in general in the current situation, in connection with the war waged by Russia, has again become relevant not only for Ukraine but also for the whole civilized world.
The event was organized by the HIV+ Refugee Association of Ukraine in Germany, together with BerLUN e-V., With the support of Berliner AIDS-Hilfe, ICF Public Health Alliance, Eastern European and Central Asian PLHIV Association, Trans-Atlantic Medical Relief Foundation Inc.