A webinar was held today for the European Equestrian National Federations and associated European Equestrian Federation (EEF) members to provide a comprehensive update on the situation in Ukraine.
Jointly hosted by the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF), UEF Charity Foundation and the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the meeting included a thorough overview of the current actions and priorities in Ukraine, as well as an interactive discussion to establish the most efficient processes required to support the equestrian community (including the horses) in Ukraine and those who have fled to neighbouring nations.
The meeting also highlighted the strong collaborative spirit between the National Federations and the willingness from the equestrian community to provide both financial and logistical support through donations of supplies and materials, offers to host individuals and/or horses and employment opportunities.
Since the onset of the war, the FEI, EEF and UEF have worked together and tirelessly to provide support and aid through the UEF Charity Foundation and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.
Current situation in Ukraine
The UEF Charity Foundation, which was set up at the start of the conflict and has the full support of the FEI and EEF manages the logistics and coordination of humanitarian aid, the evacuation of horses and the general information flow to/from the community and those externally wishing to help. Through the website www.helpukrainehorses.eu offers of material aid (feed, shavings etc.), monetary donations and accommodation have been received from across Europe and overseas. To date, over 375 tonnes of material aid have been received at their central hub in Poland and over €75,000 has been donated directly to the Charity Foundation. (Read more about UEFCF here.)
Working hand in hand and funded by the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, the Foundation has also managed the creation of a logistical hub in Granat, located between Lviv and the Polish border, able to accommodate up to 40 horses so they can be prepared for transfer into the European Union. Individuals should contact the UEF Charity Foundation for more information. It is expected this hub will be at full capacity in the coming days.
Whilst the achievements so far have been remarkable, the UEF Charity Foundation gave a stark warning that the requirement for aid is ongoing. Over the next month, an expected 2,000 horses will require support from the Foundation which would equate to triple the number of supplies currently held. As such, there is a need to continue working cooperatively across Europe in order to facilitate the supply of aid.
FEI Solidarity Director Jean-Phillippe Camboulives took this opportunity to urge all National Equestrian Federations “to designate an official representative to first coordinate the offers of support and supplies nationally, and then liaise with the FEI, EEF and UEF to ensure logistical efficiency.”
Among other things, this would entail that offers for accommodation or employment be coordinated through National Federations, prior to reaching the UEF Charity Foundation and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.
Camboulives added, the “FEI Solidarity Relief Fund has been able to provide great support to individual members in the Ukrainian community through neighbouring and European member federations such as the Ukrainian Vaulting team which is currently training and living in Slovakia thanks to the efforts of the host National Federation and the determination of their Secretary General Zuzana Baciak. And there are many examples like this at the moment. We must continue to work together and to coordinate our efforts and use our resources effectively.”
EU Regulations on the movement of horses
FEI Veterinary Director Göran Åkerström provided an update on the situation regarding the transfer of horses from Ukraine into neighbouring EU countries as well as the essential biosecurity protocols and sanitary requirements which must be respected to safeguard horse welfare and horse populations both inside and outside of Ukraine. Among the topics covered, he also informed member nations of recent amendments to the existing Health Certificate published this week by the European Commission and taking effect on 29 March through to 15 December 2022 which could facilitate the transit of horses. Given the recent publication, the documents are currently under review by the FEI and clear guidance will be shared to all relevant stakeholders in the coming days.
Looking ahead and planning the future
Reflecting on the complete collapse of the Ukrainian equestrian industry, the EEF and the FEI gave their full support to help rebuild the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation and the community.
To conclude the meeting, EEF President Theo Ploegmakers said, “the situation in Ukraine is devastating, but the collaboration we have seen across Europe through our members and the FEI is incredibly encouraging. There is still a huge amount of work to be done to help both the equines and the wider equestrian community in Ukraine and I believe through our network in Europe we can continue to provide the necessary support.”