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Factory Records co-founder Alan Erasmus speaks out on Lviv humanitarian mission

In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone UK, the Factory Records co-founder outlines why he's gone to Lviv to help

By Nick Reilly

Alan Erasmus in Ukraine, 2022
Alan Erasmus in Ukraine, 2022

Factory Records co-founder Alan Erasmus has provided an update after he headed to the Ukrainian city of Lviv last weekend to assist in humanitarian efforts following the ongoing invasion of the country by Russian forces.

The 72-year-old travelled to the country’s west from the Polish city of Krakow on Saturday evening after his original plans to head to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv proved unsuccessful.

Erasmus has now told Rolling Stone UK how he spent his first night looking for a place to stay, before eventually finding a spot in an office block that has been used to house refugees.

“I’d had a number of cancelled bookings. I was in the street for three hours and it was freezing. Soldiers came in groups of three by three, but they told me everywhere was full,” Erasmus recalled.

“These five guys eventually came around a corner at 3.30AM and they took me to an office that had been used to house refugees.”

Once inside, Erasmus personally experienced the stories of those seeking shelter, but also individual stories of bravery. One photo taken by him shows a young man’s emotional farewell with his wife and children before he prepared to head off to fight against Russian forces.

Erasmus, who previously headed up a humanitarian mission to Liberia during the Ebola epidemic of 2014, now plans to raise educational funds for displaced Ukrainian refugee children in Poland.

“The elementary system in Poland will require extra books, pencils and computers so it’s been set up for them to receive money,” he said.

While on the ground in Lviv, Erasmus also says he has handed out sanitary towels and baby powder. He has been in contact with fundraising organisers for orphanages affected by the war, but says that part of the mission is in its earliest stages.

Other potential fundraising endeavours include plans for New Order to release a charity t-shirt designed by renowned artist and frequent collaborator Peter Saville, who was responsible for the artwork to Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’. The band previously released a live video of the gig on Factory Records titled Taras Shevchenko in homage to the late Ukrainian poet. 

Erasmus now plans to stay in Lviv for at least the next days, but says that the health of his elderly mother could affect any plans to stay there for a longer amount of time.

He added: “From the Ukrainian locals I’ve spoken to, there’s a sense of both defiance and anger about what’s happened and they will fight very hard. I think Putin has well and truly f****d up because he essentially thought they were going to give him flowers as he came across the border.

“He’s been surrounded by people telling him ‘yes Vladimir for years’. The dangerous thing now is that he has to win this and he’s not going to pull out. But these people are ready to fight.”

Russia was widely condemned earlier this week after an airstrike on a hospital in the southeastern city of Mauripol killed three people, including a child.

Tthe attack also wounded at least 17 people, including pregnant women, doctors, and children who became trapped under the rubble.