The report is produced by EBF Communications in collaboration with Baptist partners.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports at least 1,506 civilian casualties, including 549 killed as of 9 March.
OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, especially in the government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that more than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries over the past 14 days, including more than 1.5 million people in Poland alone, along with over 225,000 in Hungary, nearly 176,000 in Slovakia and more than 84,000 in Romania.
Baptist Response in Ukraine
In the port city of Mariupol, the Coordination Centre of the Ukrainian Baptists reports that 300 hundred people are taking shelter in the basement of Mariupol central church, with another 300 people in another city-centre church.
From Mariupol, one Baptist writes, “There are terrible ruins in our city, factories are on fire, stores are closed. Russian forces are destroying houses, apartment buildings and complexes, there are lots of tanks, they are ruining everything. You can’t get out of the city, they surrounded it with tanks. Many people lost their loved ones and relatives. There is no connection, no roads, the disaster is everywhere...”
In Lviv, Baptist volunteers have been helping to erect two mobile hospitals, where local Baptist pastors will be providing spiritual and psychological support to patients and staff, as well as offering training to others to provide such support.
Churches in every region are running as centres of refuge, serving those in transit as well as with overnight care. More than 600 churches are actively responding to the needs inside of those fleeing, including one small church in Yaltushkiv that feeds nearly 800 people every day.
Ukrainian Baptists have organised with the government to receive aid through humanitarian corridors, however, currently, there are issues at the Polish border causing a delay. The Baptists have a number of logistics centres ready to receive and distribute aid. Supplies are beginning to run out in shops, water is becoming harder to access in some cities. As some areas are lost, communication lines are cut to the rest of the country. The needs are direr in the eastern regions of the country. In response, the Coordination Centre of the Ukrainian Baptists is working from Lviv to establish aid distribution warehouses in Eastern and Central Ukraine.
Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries
Romania — The Romanian Baptist Union has mobilised churches for the capacity to take 4,000 refugees. Additionally, the union is coordinating responses with partner churches across the border, sending food and aid across the border. It has been snowing at the border into Suceava all week as more and more refugees cross into Romania, including hundreds of stranded Indian students. All refugees are being fed as soon as they arrive and are then offered free transport and accommodation.
Bulgaria — Bulgaria does not share a direct border with Ukraine. However, the Baptist Union in Bulgaria has established a network to collect Ukrainian refugees from the Romanian and Moldovan borders to help ease the pressure on their neighbours. So far in the capital Sofia, there are around 25 women and children who have been relocated, with dozens more located throughout the rest of the country. The Union anticipates that many more will come into the country should the war in Odessa intensify.
Georgia — As well as financial and aid contributions, the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia has offered accommodation for about 100 people in our retreat centre in Manglisi, which is located about 50 km away from Tbilisi.
This includes only the latest updates but does not exclude other country responses. Please see past reports for how other Baptist Unions are responding. If your union is responding to the crisis, please let us know so that we can include your response in future updates.
EBF is gathering weekly on Wednesday during the month of March to pray for the situation. In our second gathering on 9 March, there were nearly 400 participants who joined to pray. The next prayer gathering will be on 16 March (19:00 CET / 18:00 GMT). Registration is here (if you have already registered, you do not need to register again).
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