Tamila Tasheva is afraid the world will stop talking about Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and that, if that happens, future violations of the international order will become commonplace.

Tasheva is a Crimean Tatar and founder of the nongovernmental organization Crimea SOS. She and her friends started Crimea SOS on a Facebook page to report on events in Crimea after Russian forces began their occupation of the peninsula in February 2014.

Tasheva has helped to evacuate and resettle journalists, activists and others from Russian-occupied Crimea and the Donbas region into other parts of Ukraine.

Last year, Crimea SOS collaborated with Ukrainian human rights groups to create an interactive map illustrating human rights violations in Russia-occupied Crimea. They have documented 241 violations — kidnappings, forced disappearances and abuses against Crimean Tatars, activists, journalists and others.

Two people in face masks and military gear standing in parking lot (© AP Images)
Russian forces seized government buildings in Crimea in 2014. (© AP Images)

Meeting challenges

To promote understanding between host communities and newly settled Ukrainians, Tasheva launched a media project to document the personal stories of the displaced. (One young violinist from eastern Ukraine resettled with her mother in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. “We managed to collect funds and buy a new violin for the girl,” Tasheva said.)

Tasheva bemoans the sparse media coverage of internally displaced people. Although an estimated 1.3 million people have been displaced, news about them tends to appear only on anniversaries or when mass repressions occur, she said.

Woman and young boy sitting on bed while baby sleeps under blanket (© AP Images)
A woman and her sons stay at a hostel in Slovyansk after fleeing from their separatist-held hometown of Horlivka. (© AP Images)

Her organization finds that because many displaced people want to settle in their new locations, they need housing, jobs and community support.

To address these issues, Crimea SOS partnered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They provide psychological assistance to victims and enlist communities to welcome them.

“I want my people to feel safe and be confident in their future on the Motherland,” Tasheva said.

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