United Methodists and local partners respond to variety of needs.
As eastern Ukraine’s violent upheavals continue, the United Methodist Committee on Relief aids people forcibly displaced from their homes.
The area’s heavily damaged infrastructure continues to be battered. Hospitals, schools, grocery stores and pharmacies are destroyed.
UMCOR works with the Union of Young Christians of Ukraine to address people’s needs within the contested territories of the east, and with the United Methodist Church of Ukraine in the capital, Kyiv, to which many flee in search of refuge. UMCOR also works with the United Methodist Church in Eurasia, helping families that flee to Russia.
“We are supporting humanitarian efforts irrespective of ‘sides’ in the conflict,” says Francesco Paganini, UMCOR executive secretary for International Disaster Response. “We help in solid, practical ways while upholding our important guiding principle to be both humanitarian and impartial.”
To the displaced and fleeing families of Luhansk and Donetska provinces, the UYCU distributes food and hygiene kits at the City Aid Center, located in the safer urban location of Zaporizhzhya.
However, many cannot get there, says UYCU Director Dmitry Matyukhin. “These are the most vulnerable and socially unprotected groups – the elderly, the disabled and bedridden people, or families with many children,” he says. “Our commitment is to go directly to their village homes and through our local partners, provide them what they need.”
Meanwhile across the border, people flee from embattled Ukrainian cities such as Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Lugansk and seek temporary shelter in the Russian city of Sochi. There, with UMCOR support, the United Methodist Church in Eurasia provides food and rent support.
In Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, the United Methodist Church of Ukraine assists residents fleeing the Crimea region. Russia annexed the disputed peninsula in March 2014. The aid, backed by an UMCOR grant, provides much-needed food, as many of the displaced cannot find work and have no income.
The region’s harsh winter weather presents challenges in all these locations. In the battered villages of Luhansk and Donetska provinces, for instance, Matyukhin reports power outages and water shortages. “There is a great need for power generators and heating materials such as coal and firewood,” he says. “And in the spring, people will start to rebuild their damaged houses, so there will also be a serious demand for construction materials.”
David Tereshchuk, journalist, media critic and regular contributor to www.umcor.org
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