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Ukraine Crisis Response, One Year Later

by Larry Winckles, Europe Area Associate Director | Mar 2023 | Heartbeat, HB Europe, HB Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded the eastern provinces of Ukraine and began a war no one believed could happen in Europe in the 21st century. From the earliest days of the war, Free Methodists around the globe united in prayer for the protection of Ukraine’s people and the cessation of the hostilities. Generous donations to the Bishops Crisis Response Fund allowed us to direct funds to crucial areas of need within Ukraine and other countries where those fleeing Ukraine were seeking refuge.

Our partners in Ukraine have evacuated hundreds of people from areas of high conflict, helping relocate them to the relative safety of northwestern Ukraine or assisting them with their onward journeys out of the country. Nonperishable food, medicine, hygiene products, generators, winter clothing and other necessities have been regularly delivered to transit centers and refugee “camps” within Ukraine by our Free Methodist workers and in partnership with other faith-based organizations. Critical supplies have been sent to high conflict areas, such as Mariupol, Odesa and Mykolaiv.

Several organizations hosting refugees in Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czechia, Germany, Belgium and Spain received financial support. Individual refugee families were assisted with urgent medical and financial needs. The St. John’s Home in Bulgaria hosted several refugee women and their children.

In the early days of the war, FM leaders collaborated with the European Freedom Network (EFN) to produce warning notices (flyers, posters and rollups) about the dangers of human trafficking. These were distributed to transit points within Ukraine and in surrounding countries. Since then, the focus has shifted to trauma care for those directly exposed to the war’s perils and those experiencing secondary trauma. Leaders participated in webinars dealing with trauma care and conflict-related sexual violence and have offered training in Ukraine and Moldova. We collaborated with EFN and several other organizations in developing a storybook project. The storybook is used with refugee children and their classmates, helping them to understand and deal with trauma.

As the war drags on, the current challenge for everyone is fatigue. Refugees need help with legal work. Creative housing solutions need to be found. Aid workers need respite. Infrastructures need rebuilding. The need for funding relief efforts remains strong and will continue long after the war is officially over. And Ukrainians long to return home!

We remain committed for as long as is necessary. How about you?

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Heartbeat MARCH 2023 3