Ukraine (MNN/WR) — While the world continues watching ISIS take control of part of Syria and Iraq, much of the world has forgotten about the conflict in Ukraine. It hasn’t eased any. Satellite imagery late last week appears to show Russian artillery troops crossing the border into the Donetsk region to bolster separatists.
Many military strategists say this is a Russian invasion. Casualties in the fighting between Russian separatists and Ukrainian soldiers exceeds 2000. Those displaced continue to grow.
According to World Renew, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that as of early August 2014, 117,910 people had been displaced within Ukraine, and 168,677 people had crossed the Russian border in search of safety as a result of this conflict. These figures are estimates, and the actual numbers are believed to be higher.
In the midst of this conflict, World Renew and its partners are responding with food assistance as well as counseling and employment assistance for those who have been forced from their homes.
The people who are displaced are mostly vulnerable women and children who are fleeing to central and western Ukraine, as well as the Rostov region of Russia. Many are in desperate need of food assistance. In Luhansk city, for example, food supplies are not properly replenished and shops are working with reduced hours to sell the existing stocks of food; one city supermarket has been shelled.
World Renew is partnering with Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM), Association for Spiritual Renewal (ASR), and Russian Ministries to provide food packages to internally displaced families. Russian Ministries and ASR are also striving to provide assistance to families that are trapped in the war zones and unable to leave.
“The ASR and Russian Ministries staff are working closely with the local church and community leaders to determine which of the internally displaced people (IDPs) have the greatest need,” explains World Renew’s Director of Disaster Response, Wayne de Jong. “They are also working with the Russian Ministries’ School Without Walls program students to assemble and transport food packages to the local churches and IDP sites on a weekly basis. We are so grateful for these dedicated individuals who are risking their personal safely to bless people in desperate need of food.”
In addition to food assistance, World Renew’s partners are providing seminars and materials to pastors and Christian counselors to equip them to provide holistic outreach and counseling to affected families.
ASR is also providing coaching to people in finding jobs in their new areas of residence, to help reduce their reliance on food assistance and help them settle more into the regions where they are currently living.
Please pray for the families who are affected by this tragic conflict, and for the organizations who are responding to the urgent needs.