When a small group of university students began protesting a sudden move by Ukraine’s government away from an association agreement with the European Union and towards a closer relationship with Russia last November, nobody thought that the protests would swell to the hundreds of thousands, that in three months the government would collapse after a bloody crackdown that killed over 100 protestors, that Russia would covertly invade and annex the Crimean Peninsula, or that today Ukraine and Russia would be engaged in a bloody conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
In the middle of these whirlwind developments, millions of people have found themselves living in a war zone. Hundreds of thousands of innocent children and families have been displaced as they attempt to flee the cross-fire and find safety outside the conflict zone.
World Renew is partnering with Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM), Association for Spiritual Renewal (ASR) and Russian Ministries, to provide food packages to internally displaced families.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that as of early August, 117,910 people had been displaced within Ukraine and 168,677 people had crossed the Russian border in search of safety as a result of this conflict. These figures are estimates, and the actual numbers are believed to be higher.
In the midst of this conflict, World Renew and its partners are responding with food assistance as well as counseling and employment assistance for those who have been forced from their homes.
The people who are displaced are mostly vulnerable women and children who are fleeing to central and western Ukraine, as well as the Rostov region of Russia. Many are in desperate need of food assistance. In Luhansk city, for example, food supplies are not properly replenished and shops are working with reduced hours to sell the existing stocks of food, and one city supermarket has been shelled.
World Renew is partnering with Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM), Association for Spiritual Renewal (ASR) and Russian Ministries, to provide food packages to internally displaced families. Russian Ministries and ASR are also striving to provide assistance to families that are trapped in the war zones and unable to leave.
“The ASR and Russian Ministries staff are working closely with the local church and community leaders to determine which of the internally displaced people (IDPs) have the greatest need” explains World Renew’s Director of Disaster Response, Wayne de Jong. “They are also working with the Russian Ministries’ School Without Walls program students to assemble and transport food packages to the local churches and IDP sites on a weekly basis. We are so grateful for these dedicated individuals who are risking their personal safely to bless people in desperate need of food.”
In addition to food assistance, World Renew’s partners are providing seminars and materials to pastors and Christian counselors to equip them to provide holistic outreach and counseling to affected families.
ASR is also providing coaching to people in finding jobs in their new areas of residence, to help reduce their reliance on food assistance and help them settle more into the regions where they are currently living.
Please pray for the families who are affected by this tragic conflict, and for the organizations who are responding to the urgent needs.
To support World Renew's response to the conflict in Ukraine, please donate online.*
(select "Ukraine Conflict" from the International Disaster Response category)
Cheques marked “Ukraine Conflict 2014” can also be sent to:
World Renew US
1700 28th St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508
World Renew Canada
P.O. Box 5070 STN LCD
Burlington, Ontario, L7R 3Y8
*If you would like to support World Renew’s response to various conflict situations in addition to the one in the Ukraine, please mark your gift “International Disaster Response – Wherever the Need is Greatest.”
PHOTO: Refugees from the Luhansk region wait to board a train terminating in Kharkiv, at a railway station near the town of Svatovo August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stanislav Belousov