The report is produced by EBF Communications in collaboration with Baptist partners.
The human cost of the current conflict continues to rise. Between 3 p.m. (EET) 5 March to 3 p.m. (EET) 6 March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported at least 1,123 civilian casualties, including 364 killed, a more than 410 per cent increase compared to 26 February when OHCHR reported 240 civilian casualties. (OCHA)
UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries over the past 10 days, including more than 855,000 people in Poland alone, along with over 169,000 in Hungary, nearly 113,000 in Slovakia and more than 84,000 in the Republic of Moldova. (OCHA)
Baptist Response in Ukraine
Ukrainian Baptists continue to respond to the war in their country. 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.
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.
Life continues despite struggles. Baptist churches have held Baptisms, weddings, and there was even one report of a woman giving birth in the basement of a Baptist church. Sunday services are held wherever they can (some underground) with churches gathering to worship, pray, and serve communion.
Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries
Poland — Polish Baptists continue to respond to the growing needs of refugees who have poured across the border. At least 40 churches have joined in the efforts and the Baptist seminary and retreat centres are being converted to house refugees on a longer-term basis. Poland has by far seen the largest number of people crossing the border.
Slovakia — There are fewer reports of refugees coming across the border to Slovakia, however, the Baptist Union has a humanitarian ministry team working with the 26 churches closest to the border. These churches have the capacity to care for 300 people and are in contact with church leaders across the border in Ukraine.
Hungary — Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid) is working as a designated government partner, coordinating response at the border with Ukraine and channelling humanitarian goods to a distribution centre inside Ukraine. A Baptist run school near the border, as well as churches and holiday camps, are taking in refugees. The church members offer shelter to hundreds of people in their homes.
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. Churches are giving generously to directly send money to churches in Ukraine as well.
Moldova — Although Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, they are responding with astounding generosity. 90,000 refugees are being cared for in Moldova and a further 150,000 have continued through to Romania. Currently, 50 local churches have welcomed 1,200 refugees and a Baptist clinic is serving as many as it can. The financial needs of a sustained response will be acute as government funds are very limited.
We recognise that there are likely many other countries involved. 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. During the first gathering on 2 March, there were more than 300 participants who joined to pray. The next prayer gathering will be on 9 March (19:00 CET). Registration is here (if you have already registered, you do not need to register again).
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