UMCOR and local partners respond to the needs of those impacted by ongoing violence in Ukraine
By David Tereshchuk*
February 10, 2015—As eastern Ukraine’s violent upheavals continue, UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, continues aiding communities forcibly displaced from their homes.
The area’s infrastructure has been heavily damaged, and it continues to be battered. Hospitals, schools, grocery stores and pharmacies are among the many buildings that have been destroyed.
UMCOR is working with the Union of Young Christians of Ukraine (UYCU) 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 have fled in search of refuge. UMCOR also is working with the United Methodist Church in Eurasia, helping families that have fled 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.”
Food and Hygiene
For the displaced and fleeing families of Luhansk and Donetska provinces, the UYCU is distributing food and hygiene kits at the City Aid Center, located in the safer urban location of Zaporizhzhya.
But many are unable to even get there, says UYCU Director Dmitry Matyukhin. “These are the most vulnerable and socially unprotected groups—the elderly, the disabled and bed-ridden 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 have fled from embattled Ukrainian cities such as Slavyansk, Kramatorsk or Lugansk and sought temporary shelter in the Russian city of Sochi. There, with UMCOR support, the United Methodist Church in Eurasia is providing them with food and rent support.
Displaced in Need
In Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, the United Methodist Church of Ukraine has been assisting residents fleeing the Crimea region since the disputed peninsula was annexed by Russia in March 2014. The aid, backed by an UMCOR grant, provides much-needed food, as many of the displaced have been unable to 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 there are 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.”
This year, UMCOR marks 75 years of being with those in times of crisis. Your gift to UMCOR International Disaster Response, Advance #982450, supports UMCOR’s work in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world where people are overwhelmed by natural or human-caused disaster.
* David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media critic who contributes regularly to www.umcor.org.