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 2,571 civilian casualties, including 977 killed, as of 22 March. However, the actual figures are probably much higher, as there is limited access to verify them in the worst-hit areas.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that more than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since 24 February. The vast majority of these people are women, children and the elderly. This figure includes more than 2.1 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 563,000 in Romania, more than 374,000 in Moldova and more than 330,000 in Hungary.
The BBC reported that there had been a missile strike outside of Lviv that has many concerned about conflict encroaching westward. The Ukrainian Baptist Union is currently based in Lviv.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) issued a statement urging the international community to do “everything in their power to end the current war that is destroying lives and causing untold suffering.”
The European Freedom Network has reported that human trafficking is a huge concern at the borders with some cases of traffickers posing as pastors.
Updates from Baptists in Ukraine
The conflict continues to be most brutal in eastern Ukraine, where constant shelling has destroyed vast amounts of infrastructure. Many believers are driving regularly to Kharkiv, taking aid and bringing back people fleeing the bombing.
Almost all of the Kherson region is under temporary Russian occupation; it is impossible to leave. Local churches continue to meet for worship and prayer and to organise help for as many people as possible. They are providing meals, distributing bread and finding homes for those injured. Believers from one church are taking care of children from the regional orphanage.
Several towns in the Donetsk region are also under temporary occupation. The port city of Mariupol is under constant siege, and conditions are dire. Baptist ministers in this region are delivering humanitarian aid and using any possible opportunity to help people escape. Believers in one city are baking and distributing bread, helping to save people from starvation. Christians report that “people are searching for God in times of trouble.”
A number of towns in the Sumy region remain under occupation and have been heavily bombed. Churches are providing shelter during air raids, and in quieter times their members are visiting those who are elderly or ill. Christians have helped several hundred residents to evacuate.
Hundreds of churches across Ukraine are serving as centres of welcome and refuge for those fleeing. In the Cherkasy region, more than a thousand displaced people are housed safely in church buildings every night. In Lviv, one local church held a baby shower for three mothers-to-be who had fled the fighting, bringing hope in the midst of suffering.
Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries
Romania — Churches and believers across the country are providing accommodation and a warm welcome for people fleeing Ukraine. They are working with local authorities to help long-term refugees find work, arrange schooling and integrate into society. Christians in Bucharest have set up the Ruth Refugee Centre, which has provided 106 Ukrainians with a safe place to sleep since the start of March. The centre has a fully equipped kitchen, a cafeteria, laundry facilities, a room for children’s activities, and access to computers so refugees can prepare their paperwork. Volunteers are on hand to provide whatever support is needed. One refugee commented, “I have never met people like you in my life.”
Other Neighbouring Countries — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova all continue to respond to the crisis on an incredible scale, housing refugees, transporting those in need and giving out food, clothing and medicine.
Croatia — Although the country does not share a border with Ukraine, the Baptist Union in Croatia has organised two shipments of aid to Ukraine and provided transport for refugees wishing to come to Croatia. They have set up three transit centres for refugees, and a number of believers have offered beds in their homes to those fleeing.
Lithuania — The Baptist Union in Lithuania is organising a financial gift from its churches for EBF’s work in Ukraine. Some refugees have already arrived in the country, and more are expected. Lithuanian Baptists are exploring with local authorities how best to support them.
Across the EBF — EBF has heard similar updates to Lithuania from across the EBF region. Baptists in Spain, Portugal, the UK, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Bulgaria, Italy, Scotland and others have given and are working to house 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 fourth gathering on 23 March, Ion Miron from Moldova shared updates and asked for prayer: For peace in the region, for strength for volunteers and pastors and for a revival among refugees and locals during this time. The next prayer gathering will be on 30 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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