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 3,090 civilian casualties, including 1,189 killed, as of 29 March.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that almost 10.5 million people have been forcibly displaced within Ukraine and neighbouring countries since 24 February. According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 4.05 million people have fled Ukraine; the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly. There are more than 2.3 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 616,000 in Romania, more than 388,000 in Moldova and more than 368,000 in Hungary.
Updates from Baptists in Ukraine
For several days, the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine has been cut off from the rest of the country. On March 23, Russian troops bombed a bridge in the city that was an important humanitarian corridor. Access to aid is difficult and it is impossible to leave the city. However, local Christians are finding alternative means of transport, such as boats, to take food into Chernihiv.
The city of Mariupol continues to experience a humanitarian catastrophe, with constant shelling and blocks to humanitarian aid. According to the city’s mayor, there are more than 100,000 civilians waiting to be evacuated. Bethany Baptist Church in the city was recently bombed.
Despite the brutal conflict, believers in Ukraine continue to meet together to pray, worship and read the Bible. Churches across the country are working together to provide accommodation, food, clothing, medicine and transport.
The shelves of most shops and supermarkets in Sumy, north-eastern Ukraine, are now empty. However, churches in other areas of Ukraine and abroad are sending food into the city every day, and local Christians help distribute it to those in need.
Baptist churches in the Cherkasy region are delivering food to badly hit areas. On the way back, drivers take people out of the war zone, and a team of volunteers help them travel to other European countries.
A youth leader and evangelist from a church in Mykolaiv has started a ministry to local soldiers. Every morning he takes tea and small gifts to encourage troops at 15 checkpoints. The soldiers willingly agreed for him to pray with them and asked him to continue his visits.
There are currently 18,000 displaced children in the Chernivtsi region. Children from local Christian families are donating their toys to help them settle into their new surroundings.
One church in Rivne, western Ukraine, is finding multiple creative ways to serve those in need. One very practical ministry they have developed is a free car repair service. And they provide pastoral care to those they are supporting. The church’s pastor says, “People are open to the Word of God.”
The Coordination Centre of the Ukrainian Baptists says, “Such stories of pastors encourage [us] not to slow down in our common ministry. Their testimonies on the phone [are given] in a lively, cheerful voice, full of enthusiasm.”
Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries
Across the Region — Baptists have the capacity to serve up to 51,000 beds per day for those who have been displaced because of the conflict. In addition to 45,000 beds per day in Ukraine itself, there are an estimated 4,000 beds available for Ukrainian refugees in Romania; 1,600 beds in Poland; and 700 beds in Moldova. Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova all continue to respond to the crisis on an incredible scale, providing food, clothing, medicine and transport.
Hungary — Hungarian Baptists continue to serve those who are displaced including Roma people who fled Ukraine. Many churches and other organisations turned Roma people away as they fled the border, but the Hungarian Baptists are serving those in need, regardless of background.
Romania — The Ruth Refugee Centre in Bucharest continues to offer Ukrainians safe, welcoming accommodation and help with their next steps. The organisers write, “When the Ruth Refugee Centre was established nearly a month ago, the vision was to provide a safe place for guests from Ukraine to sleep, launder their clothing, eat three meals a day, and receive support in resolving various problems with their embassy in Bucharest. After hosting guests for two weeks, it became apparent that for some families a quick transit was not an option. Over the past week and a half, the two apartments in the Ruth School have been renovated and furnished to host two or three families for longer periods of time. With these new facilities, our Ruth Refugee Centre can now host up to 65 guests per night!”
Across the EBF — Baptists in Spain, Portugal, the UK, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Bulgaria, Italy and many other contexts have given generously and are housing refugees with church families.
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 fifth gathering on 30 March, Igor Bandura from Ukraine shared updates and asked for prayer: protection for refugees from traffickers, safety for those in bombarded cities, hope for the future, and comfort for families separated by the war.
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