This report is produced by EBF Communications in collaboration with Baptist partners.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports 5,121 civilian casualties, including 2,224 killed, as of 20 April. OHCHR believes that the actual figures are likely to be much higher, as data from the worst-hit areas are still being verified.
According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 5 million people have fled Ukraine; the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly. There are more than 2.8 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 763,000 in Romania, more than 476,000 in Hungary and more than 428,000 in Moldova.
Russian forces have now withdrawn from northern Ukraine and are focusing on a massive offensive in the eastern Donbas region.
Updates from Baptists in Ukraine
The escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine has made it more difficult to evacuate local people. Baptist volunteers have been risking their lives trying to take humanitarian aid into the region and bring people to safety. Christians from Cherkasy have recently helped 90 people to evacuate, but fear this may be their last trip for some weeks.
Ukrainian forces have retaken control of the north-eastern Sumy region, and daily life is slowly resuming. Dozens of volunteer teams from across Ukraine have been bringing aid into the region. Almost all the churches in the area have restarted their Sunday services.
The Chernihiv region has also been liberated from Russian forces, though many homes have been destroyed and there is still a threat of rocket fire. Churches are beginning to resume their services. “People here are in great need, both physical and spiritual,” says Volodymyr Vysotsky, head of the Chernihiv Baptist Association.
A church in the city of Irpin was badly damaged in a bombing raid as the occupying forces left. The congregation had bought the building a year before and had spent eight months converting it. Although this is a blow for them, the pastor remains optimistic. “We believe that the Lord will give us the opportunity to rebuild the church building and make it even more convenient to serve the Lord,” he says. “But most importantly, we pray for our people in Irpin and try to serve them, so that they will see that in the most difficult times, the Lord is near.”
The team of volunteers from Irpin Bible Church did not leave the city even while the war raged. Now that the Russian troops have left, they are working intensively in Irpin and nearby Bucha, delivering food to survivors and helping with the clean-up operation. They are even assisting sappers in the dangerous task of de-mining the area. The Coordination Centre of the Ukrainian Baptists asks for prayers for their strength and safety.
Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries
Baptists continue to provide food, clothing, medicine, transport and pastoral care to people forced from their homes. The number of refugees entering neighbouring countries has significantly decreased since the first few weeks of the war. However, as Russia begins its re-asserted attacks in the east of Ukraine, the most desperate who were not able to flee earlier will be pushed out. Likely the second wave of refugees, many with significantly fewer resources than some of those fleeing earlier, will come further west and into neighbouring countries.
Slovakia — Churches across Slovakia faithfully continue to offer hospitality to Ukrainian refugees. The Slovak Baptist Union is contributing more than €1,300 each day towards refugees’ food needs. A number of churches have launched services in Ukrainian, and the Union has arranged for Christian resources in Ukrainian to be printed and distributed. The Baptist church in Košice has experienced the largest influx of refugees, but recently the flow of new arrivals has slowed. This has allowed the church to shift its focus to delivering humanitarian aid to Ukraine, where believers distribute it to people in the worst-hit areas.
Czechia — To date, the Czech Republic’s Baptist Union has raised approximately €44,300 for their Ukraine crisis fund. They have divided this into three parts: a donation to the Ukrainian Baptist Union for humanitarian aid in the country; help for churches and individuals they have direct contact with within Ukraine; and support for refugees who have arrived in Czechia. Within Ukraine, these funds have been used for food, hygiene, transport, medicines and medical equipment, and larger purchases such as a generator for a city church. Churches in the Czech Republic are providing refugees with food, accommodation and help with obtaining the documents they need. The Baptist Union has produced Christian literature in Ukrainian, including a translation of the New Testament. They are also supporting a mission worker among refugees in the city of Brno.
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 has been proud to lead the global Baptist effort to support those inside and around Ukraine affected most by the war. Currently, over €1.9 million has been raised to provide food, fuel, bedding, heating, and more to support Baptists who are serving those displaced in the region.
Ukrainian Baptists pass along their deep gratitude to those who have gathered weekly to pray during the Lenten season. EBF will continue to host monthly prayer calls on the last Wednesday of the month via Zoom at 19:00 CET (18:00 UK time). You can use the same registration link.
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