HHLA takes its responsibility for its employees seriously – no matter where they work for the company. The biggest concern was therefore the safety of workers on the ground when Russia attacked Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Operations at Container Terminal Odessa (CTO) had to be discontinued at first. While a crisis team coordinated operational measures, a cross-departmental team at the company‘s Hamburg headquarters organised support for HHLA employees in Ukraine and their families.
Cohesion and reliance on one another are distinguishing features of our corporate culture. They stand the test in difficult times, as they do in our everyday working lives.
This made an unprecedented relief effort possible: approximately 180 Ukrainian employees and their relatives were bussed from the war zone to Hamburg. Here they found temporary homes with colleagues and their families and friends before their own apartments were found for them. The aid team organised language courses and interpreters, assisted with visits to authorities and helped with the search for schools. Through an appeal in the company, clothes, toys, and items for the new apartments were collected. We are supporting a second group of refugees in Romania. HHLA employees donated nearly 70,000 euros through an inhouse request for donations. On the Executive Board‘s initiative, an aid fund totalling one million euros was also set up for humanitarian and medical support for people affected by the war, especially in the Odessa region.
Before Russian troops advanced into Ukraine, Anna Bolliger-Fussner was already nervously following the unsettling news about the increasing threat of war. Bolliger-Fussner comes from Poland and has many Ukrainian and Russian friends.Read more
“Cohesion and reliance on one another are distinguishing features of our corporate culture. They stand the test in difficult times, as they do in our everyday working lives,” says Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA‘s Executive Board. Part of its solidarity with the people in Ukraine was HHLA’s reliable fulfilment of its supply mandate. During the time that the CTO remained closed for seaborne container handling, the team took over the handling of grain. In addition, a land bridge was established via the European HHLA network through which goods could be transported to or from Ukraine just a few weeks after the start of the war. In this way, HHLA also transported several containers carrying medical supplies such as surgical gloves and bandages to the Ukrainian port city; these were purchased through HHLA’s aid fund. HHLA supports additional measures with its transport network, including aid shipments for German Food Bridge, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
In Hamburg, we received a warm welcome from my HHLA colleagues, who we thank from the bottom of our hearts for their great help and support.
Many Ukrainians had to flee when Russian forces attacked their homeland. Bombs also fell in Odessa, where HHLA employee Olena Ptashenchuk lived until the war began. In an interview, she talks about how she had to flee, and why her work at HHLA in Hamburg helps her to deal with the situation in her homeland.
How has the Russian attack affected you personally?
2022 was a challenging year for all Ukrainians, and I was no exception. When fleeing the war, one of my most difficult tasks was to organise my disabled father’s evacuation. In the beginning we stayed in Bulgaria, still hoping the vicious attack on peaceful Ukrainian cities would soon be over so we could go back home. But two months later, I had to face reality and drove with my father all the way through Europe to Germany. In Hamburg, we received a warm welcome from my HHLA colleagues, who we thank from the bottom of our hearts for their great help and support.
What was your job in Odessa?
I have worked as a local Compliance Officer at CTO for more than five years. I have also been actively involved in the regional coordination of the compliance teams in Estonia, Georgia and Ukraine with my German colleagues since 2019.
Where and what do you do at HHLA today?
I continue to be part of the Group compliance team, including for Container Terminal Odessa. In addition, I do my Ukrainian tasks remotely. This means that I continue to provide regional support for the local Compliance Officers in Estonia, Georgia and now also Italy. I am glad that I have been able to focus on my daily work despite the circumstances and difficulties. My work definitely gives me the strength to overcome all obstacles with a positive attitude, and to hope for the best.