Five Benfica footballers took part this Wednesday in the collection of humanitarian aid products for Ukraine, next to the Estádio da Luz, in Lisbon, out of a total of more than 100 tons of goods collected and distributed by five trucks .
Reds Ukrainian international striker Roman Yaremchuk was also due to be present for the action, but flu symptoms advised him to forfeit, according to Benfica.
The volunteers organized by Fundação Benfica and SIC Esperança were Belgian defender Jan Verthongen, captain André Almeida, striker Gonçalo Ramos, midfielder Paulo Bernardo and defender Tomás Araújo, in the giant tent set up between gates 22 and 24 from the enclosure of the eagles.
“It’s good to see so many people involved and obviously Benfica too. We live here in a comfortable situation and there are people going through a crisis at the moment. Whatever we can do, we should always be able to help,” said the Belgium Red Devils centre-back, believing it’s good for Yaremchuk to play as “it can be a bit distracting to focus on football”.
Among dozens of other anonymous volunteers, the Benfica athletes separated the different products, mainly health, hygiene and non-perishable goods, and packed them before being labeled and packed on pallets, in the middle of the freight elevators and hundreds of cardboard boxes.
“We are much more than just athletes or football players. It is important to see the involvement not only of Benfica, but of Portugal, in this cause. It is a situation that no one can imagine, but we are doing our best to help,” said Gonçalo Ramos. .
Paulo Bernardo affirmed his desire “to help a country which is going through a very delicate situation”, stressing that “before being players”, athletes are “people” who want to “contribute and show people that they must also do “”. .
The “We Stand With Ukraine” campaign began collecting on Thursday at 120 locations across the country, including Benfica homes, club shops and schools and 20 non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“We wanted to ship already tomorrow [quinta-feira] the humanitarian caravan, but there is still much to do and settle. We are on our way to the fifth TIR truck (Transporte Internacional Rodoviário). Each one takes around 24 tons, so it will be more than 100 tons,” Benfica Foundation director Jorge Miranda said.
The goods will then be received locally by the Polish army and a Ukrainian NGO.
In the early hours of February 24, Russia launched an attack on Ukraine that killed at least 406 civilians and injured more than 800 and caused the flight of more than two million people to neighboring countries, according to the latest data from the UN.
The Russian invasion was condemned by most of the international community, which responded by sending arms to Ukraine and increasing economic sanctions against Moscow.