We started this NGO with a long-term perspective! We know that in crisis situations like this, initially there will be a lot of people and states that will help, but interest will decrease over time. It is in the long run that the civilian population is worn down and the resources are drained that the circumstances become really tough.
We've been at it since the war started. We are all former officers, bodyguards, intelligence or UN people.
On 24 February at 05:00 I woke up to the news that Russia had launched a large-scale attack against the sovereign state of Ukraine. That morning I sat glued to the screen before I had a meeting at 09. As usual, I picked up my latte from Emmerys and drove to the meeting. My head was somewhere else, namely in Ukraine. Having seen war from my broadcasts, I knew very well that this was very serious and that it would have far-reaching consequences for the civilians of Ukraine and ultimately Europeans.
Therefore, I looked at my partner Per (Consultant & former bodyguard) after the meeting and said "we will have to do something". Right there I was happy that we have common DNA from the Armed Forces - because he completely agreed.
In our own company NewNor Consulting, we do consultancy work in complex environments or around complex issues. Where there is rapid change and rapid development is where we navigate best - we operate well in chaos. There was also the contrast with the expensive latte for 48 kroner and the war, it simply seemed pointless.
After that, we called around the network and several people felt the same way. Including Bruno Kalhøj (Head of Security EY), who himself had taken the initiative to try to get some people together in the network with common DNA. This process resulted in us coming into contact with Christian Pejtersen (Former PET), Ebbe Wolff (Former soldier, veteran and Security Manager), Lars Hawaleschka Madsen (Senior Advisor NATO), Søren Poulsen (Bodyguard), Andreas Hemme (Journalist) and Morten LK (Former soldier and veteran), as well as all the other volunteers. Therefore, we quickly put the rags together and got an organization together.
Everyone had the same feeling that everyday life suddenly felt meaningless if you did not contribute to the common task solution. The common DNA meant that people threw away what they had in their hands and were ready to step in where the need arose.
The next day, Per and I were in the car on our way to Poland and Ukraine. We had gathered around 15 volunteers who were to make up what we later founded as the Danish Support Group Ukraine (DSGU).
We spent 3 weeks mapping out which actors were in the area, nations, private individuals, etc. It was chaos to say the least. It was a mix of tons of volunteers from all over Europe, private actors and ministries. We soon found out that the various embassies and foreign ministries were paralyzed. We helped e.g.the German Foreign Ministry with transporting emergency aid across the border when their own bureaucracy prevented them from doing so.
We held a few meetings with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they didn't know where to start or end, as they had just replaced the embassy in Kiev with a hotel in Poland, but they were very open and worked through the chaos they were facing. The Danish ambassador Ole Egberg Mikkelsen was very helpful and has also tried to help us with funds, but we are currently not come through for any public support yet. This resulted in us taking action ourselves. We delivered over a million kroner worth of children's clothing to Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk, which at the time were heavily burdened areas. We supplied generators to hospitals, food, sleeping bags, ballistic vests to Danish companies in Ukraine, extraction of Danish citizens in Ukraine, etc.
We helped fleeing people out, and we coordinated efforts across states and organizations – DSGU was now officially founded and up and running.
We got some really useful relationships down there and found out which players are worth investing more time in and which are definitely not. The US Department of State was very helpful and through this we established a good network which proved to be quite useful later in the process.
But it is unfortunately the case that when the resources are voluntary, there is also a lot of revolving door in it, and to that extent we needed a head office at home in Denmark. Therefore, we returned home after 3 weeks with a bag full of intelligence and information that we could now use in our NGO. Therefore, we were replaced by Andreas Hemme (Former journalist), who drove to Lviv, Kiev and Mykolaiv to help find permanent projects where our NGO would be able to do the most good in the long run.
Now we are where the attention in the media is steadily decreasing, as the situation in Ukraine worsens. Everyone was ready to help in the beginning, but war is debilitating and it is over time that help is really needed.
That is why we are also in this for the long haul, because we have seen it with our own eyes before, and we know exactly what it does to a state and not least to the many civilians involved.
This means that we currently need help to make people aware that we exist and we have 3 established or permanent projects going on.
Throughout our presence in Ukraine, we have constantly been confronted with the fact that civilians, including especially children, are injured, or what is worse, killed by mines and so-called unexploded ammunition (UXO), as well as improvised explosive devices (IED). Therefore, demining just makes super good sense in the areas where the Russians have withdrawn. Up to 30% of all munitions fired do not detonate properly, which leaves enormous amounts of unexploded material, in addition, mines are deliberately laid in and around buildings, fields, etc. The civilians want to go back to their homes, and especially children. goes beyond as they rummage and play in the ruins and on the ground.
That is why we have allied ourselves with Damasec (Danish company) and Andy (Expert), who can contribute the technical skills needed to help solve this complex task. Our goal is to make Ukraine safer for the civilian population so they can return to their homes.
However, it has been very difficult to get the necessary permits to get started, as the institutions during war are overburdened and the bureaucracy very slow. It may seem strange that we have been able to sit with the capacity ready in Ukraine for several months without being allowed to start working, but unfortunately this is the reality most NGOs currently face. has run into, as the Ukrainians must of course have control over who operates in their country, and therefore one must arm oneself with patience.
This is where our American contacts come into the picture. They have provided a contact to an American NGO, which has sent us in the direction of Deming Solutions (Ukrainian demining contribution). Demining Solutions is a member of the UDA (Ukrainian Demining Association). They have the necessary accreditation, but Demining Solutions lacked resources and equipment, but we have that through Damasec, and therefore we could finally start demining on Monday together with our Ukrainian partners. This means that we also use Ukrainian labor, which enables them to solve this task in the future and gives them employment now and here.
We have been allocated an area of 2 million square meters of emergency services in Chernihiv, north of Kiev.
In addition, we will continue to help the residents of Mykolaiv with clean drinking water. Since the start of the war, Mykolaiv has been under heavy attack from the Russians. In mid-April, the city's main water supply was destroyed in the attacks, and several districts of the city have since then not had proper access to clean water. In Odessa, Andreas Hemme (DSGU) met Stanislav, and through this collaboration we have ensured the delivery of 250,000 liters of clean drinking water.
Last but not least, we help with the reconstruction of houses in Chernihiv. Here we have allied ourselves with a local NGO, Iskra Dobra, which is very busy with the reconstruction. It is an association of locals who help locals so that they can resume a normal everyday life. We have helped to get 10 roofs repaired so they can be ready for winter.
However, we lack some media coverage and attention, as we specifically need DKK 2 million to be able to ensure the next period's demining in Ukraine. We are starting as one of the only ones internationally. We currently have finances for 1.5 months, and is therefore looking for donors, private as well as public.
We have raised DKK 2 million ourselves via private donors, which have been used for water, roofs and the initial initiation of demining. This is largely driven by Vita Media Group and Jimmi Meilstrup in particular. For that reason, we now need further attention to these projects.
In addition to the money, we have demining robots on the way that have been donated to us by a Canadian company to the value of 500,000 dollars (they are used but repaired). The robots will save lives. We know that the Ukrainians' own "hero tactic" has cost around 50 deminers their lives.
Now we are there where we are permanently established, we have the necessary permits, equipment, manpower and training. We are here to stay, and the most important thing for us is that we can help as many civilian Ukrainians as possible to move safely in and around their own homes. That is why we seek public funds to that extent, e.g. through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Searching for foundations and private donors is both slow and time-consuming. It simply sucks too much of our overall capacity to constantly have to hunt for funds to keep the shooting going, therefore we hope for help from the Danish state, as we as Danes can thereby be among the first to clear mines, and ensure stability and security in some parts of Ukraine.
About Team DSGU
Team DSGU writes the content for the DSGU website