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7 Canadians, including 3 Albertans, part of Samaritan's Purse relief team to help Ukraine

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A team of disaster response specialists from an international Christian relief organization are headed to Poland and Romania to help the Ukrainian people who have been displaced by the Russian invasion.

The Calgary chapter of Samaritan's Purse says the advance team, which includes seven Canadians, are tasked with rapid needs assessments to determine how the organization can focus its efforts on emergency relief.

Three of the workers are from Alberta, officials said, and one of the members is a doctor who will investigate any sort of health needs that cannot be met by local authorities.

"Samaritan's Purse has been closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine for weeks," said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse in a release.

"We have deployed members of our Disaster Assistance Response Team to surrounding countries and are standing ready to help meet emergency needs resulting from the crisis. Please join me in praying for the people of Ukraine and for this conflict to end quickly."

Meanwhile, the organization says it is still in contact with more than 3,000 churches and associations within Ukraine.

Samaritan's Purse says it is also working to distribute 600,000 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to Ukrainian children.

FEDS TO MATCH RED CROSS DONATIONS

The announcement of support efforts comes as the federal government pledged to match individual donations from Canadians seeking to help Ukraine.

The campaign, scheduled to run from Feb. 25 to March 18, will see the Trudeau government match donations dollar for dollar to the Canadian Red Cross to a maximum of $10 million.

The head of Save the Children Canada also urged Canadians to donate funds as part a US$19-million global appeal to help the humanitarian efforts on the ground as the fighting continued across Ukraine.

Danny Glenwright, the organization's president, said at least three children have been killed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and is calling on both sides to cease their fighting.

"We can certainly be supporting people in Ukraine right now. We should not look away from what we're seeing," Glenwright said in an interview.

"We know that any war is a war against children."

Details on the Samaritan's Purse relief effort can be found here while those looking to donate to the Canadian Red Cross can do so here.

(With files from the Canadian Press)

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