Durbin Honors Chicago Area Medical Volunteers Helping Ukrainians

In speech on the Senate floor, Durbin highlights Marina Ovsyannikova, the brave TV editor who held up a sign on Russian TV condemning the war

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, spoke on the Senate floor honoring various Chicago area doctors, nurses, non-profits, and hospitals that are helping Ukrainians following Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Durbin also highlighted Marina Ovsyannikova, the brave Russian TV editor, who held up a sign on a Russian state news broadcast that read, “don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here. ‘Russians against the war.’” Under a new law, she could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for even using the word “war” to describe Russia’s barbaric assault against Ukraine. Due to Russian propaganda and censorship, many Russians don’t know the actions of Vladimir Putin, like the horrific shelling last week of a children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol. Every one of these attacks is a violation of international law, which forbids attacking medical facilities in wartime.


An estimated 2.8 million Ukrainians—almost all of them women, children, and seniors—have fled to other nations, carrying only a few possessions.


“We’ve seen an outpouring of revulsion at Putin and his war crimes,” Durbin said. “But we’ve also seen an outpouring of compassion as governments and ordinary citizens step forward to aid Ukraine. Last Wednesday, a group of nine doctors and nurses from the Chicago area flew to Poland to volunteer to help Ukrainians fleeing the war.  They brought with them 167 suitcases filled with medicines and medical equipment.”


Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, donated nearly $500,000 in equipment—all paid for in donations raised in just 72 hours. The group included Ukrainians Americans, Lithuanian Americans, Polish Americans, Syrian Americans, and Pakistani Americans. The trip was organized by a non-profit group called MedGlobal, founded by Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a Syrian-American doctor. Over the years, they’ve taken medical missions to Syria, Burma, and other places torn by conflict.


Durbin also highlighted Lurie Children’s Hospital – they shipped one and a quarter tons of medical supplies and PPE to Ukraine. Staff at Lurie’s are now exploring with federal officials how they might help bring some of Ukraine’s most critically ill children to the U.S. for needed medical treatment.


“I applaud America’s children’s hospitals for answering the call over the last several days to provide medical support for pediatric patients in critical need. I urge our federal agencies to assist in the logistical challenges. Together, we can help save some of Ukraine’s most vulnerable children,” Durbin continued.


On Wednesday, all Members of the House and Senate are invited to attend a Virtual Address to the United States Congress delivered by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.


“Tomorrow morning, a truly heroic leader, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, will address a virtual Joint Session of Congress. He will ask Congress and the American people to stand with Ukraine in this terrible time – to defend democracy and human dignity and help bring this horrific war to an end. We must answer that call.  This fight is not Ukraine’s alone.  This is the fight for democracy and the right of free people to choose their own leaders [and] decide their own destiny,” Durbin said.


Last week, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus appropriations bill. The $1.5 trillion package provides $13.6 billion in humanitarian, military, and economic support for Ukraine. Within that amount, $6 billion is provided in State and USAID humanitarian assistance; $100 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food for Peace aid for Ukraine; $6.5 billion in Defense spending; and $19 million for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to support targeted sanctions measures.


 Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.