Churches respond to growing humanitarian needs in Ukraine and bordering countries
Hosting refugees, providing food, helping in hospitals, and ringing church bells as a warning when shelling starts—these are some of the many ways churches are responding in Ukraine and bordering countries as the war continues.
23-year-old mother Paulina closes her eyes for a moment as she and her children spend time in their new temporary home in Nyíregyháza, Hungary, 9 March 2022. With the recent influx of refugees arriving in Hungary following the Russian invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, the Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Nyíregyháza Kertváros is working hard to accommodate and support people arriving in the city. 23-year-old mother Paulina alongside her husband, a new-born baby and two daughters are staying in a house offered as accommodation for incoming refugees by congregants from Nyíregyháza Kertváros. Being 8-months pregnant when starting the journey from Ukraine to neighboring Hungary, Paulina gave birth to her third child the same day she and her family crossed the border. Having started going into labour while still being on the way, Paulina was rushed from the border crossing to a nearby hospital in Fehérgyarmat in order to give birth. Hospital staff reportedly said it was a miracle the child
and mother are both healthy and well. Photo: Albin Hillert/LWF
11 March 2022
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate reports that it is helping all those in need—the military, hospitals, and refugees all over Ukraine.
Monasteries are providing all possible humanitarian aid to refugees, internally displaced persons and all those affected by the war. Refugee reception points have also been organized at churches through joint efforts of the clergy and volunteers. Some provide 24-hour aid, giving out warm clothes, mats, sleeping bags, water and medicines.
Queues and checkpoints at the borders of Ukraine are overflowing with refugees, with 10-kilometer lines formed at some points.
“We are trying to help everyone,” reported one parish in Lviv, as packages of food were taken to a centre for refugees, which was operating at the Arena Lviv stadium. There, churches are working with the Department of Social Protection of the Lviv City Council.
“The clergy and all the employees of our churches are making every effort to help all those who need it,” the Volodymyr-Volyn Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate reported.
Many retired doctors among parishioners also are pitching in to help.
Ukrainian Orthodox Churches are also providing basements for the possibility of shelter from shelling and bombing, with churches helping to sound the alarm of impending attacks by ringing the church bells.
Fr Mykolay Danylevych, deputy chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, has reported that priests are also accompanying many with prayer. ““Priests pray, comfort and reassure people, and provide spiritual and even psychological help,” he said.
Needs are growing
There is an urgent need for humanitarian support in Ukraine and in the countries to which many refugees are fleeing — Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, as well as Belarus and Russia.
ACT Alliance members are responding to these needs for humanitarian support. Churches are organizing fundraising; collecting clothes, food and hygiene items; and organizing accommodation for refugees.
ACT has issued an alert and is supporting national members through its Rapid Response Fund, while an appeal for multi-country support will assist in scaling up the response in Ukraine and neighboring countries.
WCC appalled by escalating impact on civilians of conflict in Ukraine (https://www.oikoumene.org/news/wcc-appalled-by-escalating-impact-on-civilians-of-conflict-in-ukraine) (WCC news release, 11 March 2022)
Patriarch Kirill responds to WCC acting general secretary’s letter urging voice for peace (https://www.oikoumene.org/news/patriarch-kirill-responds-to-wcc-acting-general-secretarys-letter-urging-voice-for-peace) (WCC news release, 10 March 2022)
WCC acting general secretary to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow: “raise up your voice so that the war can be stopped” (https://www.oikoumene.org/news/wcc-acting-general-secretary-to-patriarch-kirill-of-moscow-raise-up-your-voice-so-that-the-war-can-be-stopped) (WCC press release, 2 March 2022)
WCC urges President Putin to stop war, restore peace to Ukraine (https://www.oikoumene.org/news/wcc-urges-president-putin-to-stop-war-restore-peace-to-ukraine) (WCC press release of 25 February 2022)
WCC statement: WCC urges to stop this war, and to restore peace to the people and nation of Ukraine (https://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/wcc-urges-to-stop-this-war-and-to-restore-peace-to-the-people-and-nation-of-ukraine) (25 February 2022)
In Ukraine, “such a war has no excuse, neither from God, nor from people” (https://www.oikoumene.org/news/in-ukraine-such-a-war-has-no-excuse-neither-from-god-nor-from-people) (WCC press release, 25 February 2022)
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