President of Ukraine

Olena Zelenska during her visit to the UK: Strengthening Ukraine means strengthening the entire democratic world

29 February 2024 - 11:12

Olena Zelenska during her visit to the UK: Strengthening Ukraine means strengthening the entire democratic world

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska has begun a working visit to the UK to participate in the Soft Power Index conference.

On the first day of the visit, the President's wife met with Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom David Cameron. She thanked him for consistently supporting Ukraine.

"We highly appreciate that the United Kingdom became the first country with which Ukraine signed a security cooperation agreement earlier this year. You have set a good example for other partners," the First Lady said.

She also noted the UK's consistent position on the confiscation of Russian assets.

Olena Zelenska also thanked the Secretary for participation in the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children Deported by Russia. The return of abducted children is the basis of the Bring Kids Back UA action plan initiated by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy: "We count on the UK to continue to play a leading role in strengthening the international pro-Ukrainian coalition and help us enhance our security and resilience in the face of the Russian threat."

The First Lady also met with Victoria Atkins, the UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Olena Zelenska thanked the UK for its assistance in the medical sector. In particular, about 60 ambulances, 4.2 million doses of medicines, including painkillers and antibiotics, 1.5 million units of other goods, including personal protective equipment, respirators, bandages, crutches and other medical supplies were transferred. In January 2023, the UK sent Ukraine tents to set up mobile clinics in places where medical facilities were damaged by shelling, 80 beds, more than 30,000 gowns, etc.

"You, your team and your country are helping Ukraine a lot. It is not only about equipment, ambulances, medicines and other means to save lives and health. I am grateful for your help with knowledge, grateful for the attention of your healthcare professionals who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. I am especially grateful to those doctors who traveled to Ukraine in the first months of the war to train and consult their Ukrainian colleagues," the First Lady said.

The parties discussed further cooperation, particularly in the area of medical partnership. Ukraine launched the project of international medical partnership last year, during the satellite summit of health ministers held as part of the Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen in September in Kyiv. Then 25 memoranda were signed between medical institutions of Ukraine and the world. This is an opportunity for specific medical institutions to find a partner to share experience, conduct joint training, operations, research, etc. During the summit, the United Kingdom joined the joint ministerial statement on building a sustainable international healthcare partnership to empower healthcare professionals.

As of today, 29 partnerships have been established between 21 Ukrainian and 26 foreign healthcare institutions from 15 countries.

The parties also discussed cooperation in the area of mental health promotion. Olena Zelenska emphasized the importance of the roundtable discussion on mental health to be held on March 1 in London.

"For three years now, Ukrainians have been forced to endure an extraordinary strain on their mental health due to Russia's full-scale military invasion. Realizing that the old system will not be able to cover everyone who needs help, I initiated its transformation through the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program. And I would be happy if British experts and specialists became partners and supported Ukrainian colleagues on this path," the President's wife emphasized.

In London, the First Lady and representatives of the Olena Zelenska Foundation met with the Amazon team, including Tanuja Randery, Managing Director and Vice President (Europe, Middle East and Africa) of Amazon Web Services. The Ukrainian side received confirmation from its partners that 700 gadgets will be transferred to Ukrainian students as part of the Device Coalition.

The President's wife spoke about the activities of her Foundation, which focuses on supporting Ukrainians in three areas: humanitarian aid, education, and healthcare.

"Our goal is to provide access to education for as many Ukrainian students as possible, both offline and online," the First Lady said.

"Unfortunately, in a number of regions, children are not able to attend schools physically. That is why we provide students and teachers with laptops and tablets so that the educational process does not stop. Over the course of a year and a half of work, the Foundation has handed over about 50 thousand gadgets. Together with our partners from the Device Coalition – the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine – we will provide the same amount in the near future," she added.

Olena Zelenska thanked Amazon for cooperation in this area.

"At the end of December 2023, my Foundation received almost 5 thousand tablets and e-books from your warehouse in Poland. These devices will soon be distributed to children from vulnerable categories in 10 regions of Ukraine, where the share of online education prevails. These are Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions," the First Lady said.

The President's wife noted that the need for gadgets is still great and amounts to almost 350 thousand devices for children and 70 thousand for teachers.

During the meeting, the Amazon team announced the transfer of another 700 gadgets as part of the Device Coalition.

Olena Zelenska also spoke about other projects of the Foundation to support education in Ukraine: the construction of shelters for schools (4,800 schools and kindergartens in Ukraine do not have shelters), the creation of educational centers in hospitals ("Superhero School" – spaces where children undergoing long-term treatment can continue their education. Currently, 11 of them have been created in hospitals across the country), as well as a project to rebuild a creativity and sports center in Borodyanka, Kyiv region, designed for 2,000 children, which was destroyed during the occupation.

"I thank everyone who helps rebuild and strengthen Ukraine. This is a contribution to strengthening the entire democratic world," Olena Zelenska said.