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British military veterans to sleep outside in Kyiv for homeless fundraiser

This article was first published in The Independent on February 23rd, 2024.

Dan Kaine, Matt Hooper and Mike O’Halloran will sleep outside in Kyiv for two nights, coinciding with the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

Three British military veterans will sleep outside in Kyiv for two nights amid air raid sirens and possible missile attacks to raise awareness of homeless and displaced Ukrainians living in the war zone.

Dan Kaine, 44, Matt Hooper, 44, and Mike O’Halloran, 53, will travel to the Ukrainian capital to sleep outside in sleeping bags on Friday and Saturday – within a secure compound to avoid breaking Ukrainian curfew laws.

The sleep-out coincides with the second anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, which began on February 24 2022.

The experience will raise awareness of Ukrainians “forced from their homes in the middle of the night” because of the ongoing conflict, and those who are displaced and facing homelessness in the middle of the war zone.

The men, whose faces and military career details cannot be shared for security reasons, are fundraising for the charity REACT Disaster Response and have raised more than £5,000 so far to provide aid to Ukrainians.

They will also be delivering medical packs and cold weather equipment, such as face masks and scarves, to community initiatives.

Mr Kaine, based in London, told the PA news agency: “The only thing we’ll have is a sleeping bag and a mat to make it as realistic as possible to experience what homeless people are going through outside in a war zone.

“You have air raid sirens going off throughout the night, you have missiles coming in, anti-aircraft fire overhead, Russian drones.

“We’ll be experiencing all these things, not just the cold, but what it’s like to be outside in a war zone.

“We’re all ex-military and we’ve all been on the front line, but this time around is very, very different.”

Mr Kaine said they also want to raise awareness of the families in Ukraine who are forced to leave their homes “in the freezing cold at all hours of the day” because of the war.

“To experience what it must be like to be homeless is one thing, but to also be a civilian at home asleep in your bed and a missile hits the building you live in, or hits the building next door,” he said.

“To have to evacuate your building en masse in the freezing cold in the middle of the night while shrapnel is still falling around, anti-aircraft fire is overhead and the air raid sirens are going off.

People are thrown out into the cold at all hours of the day, families with young children.”

Mr Kaine said they will be sleeping outside in a secure compound to avoid breaking the wartime curfew.

“We didn’t want to break local laws, but at the same time there’s somewhere in the region of 6,000 homeless people in and around Kyiv and Lviv who obviously have no choice but to break the curfew each night,” he said.

“Some sleep in air raid shelters or underground train stations but some sleep out in the open.”

The men, who are partners at Inherent Risks, a global risk advisory and crisis response firm based in London, went to Ukraine “within 36 hours” of the start of Russia’s invasion in 2022 to help the safe passage of thousands of travellers in and out of the country.

“The morning of the 25th when we end the sleep-out is also the anniversary of when we first entered Ukraine two years ago,” Mr Kaine said.

“That’s our job, we make war zones accessible for NGOs (non-governmental organisations), journalists, war crimes investigators – we provide all of the services they require inside the country.

“We made a promise when we first arrived in Ukraine to do as much good as possible while we were there.

“This time around, we just said this is a perfect opportunity to raise some funds and raise awareness.”


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