The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is committed to providing humanitarian assistance for those affected by the fighting in eastern Ukraine. In January, Lutheran Disaster Response disbursed $85,000 to its partners from ACT Alliance, Hungarian Interchurch Aid and the Russian Orthodox Church to help support almost 20,000 survivors in the areas of conflict.
“The humanitarian assistance from the ELCA is critical for those who are still in the conflict areas, particularly in light of increased needs during the winter months,” said Vitaly Vorona, ELCA program director for Lutheran Disaster Response International. “The ELCA supports dialogue, peace and reconciliation between those most involved in and affected by the conflict. Our church should also stand with the ordinary Ukrainians who speak out against human rights abuses and injustice in this country.”
Lutheran Disaster Response is working with its partners to provide food, diapers, blankets, water, health kits, hygiene kits and psychosocial services to assist those who have fled their homes.
A Feb. 20 United Nations report states that, although the Feb. 15 ceasefire “led to a considerable decrease in hostilities in most parts of eastern Ukraine,” clashes have continued in some areas. According to the report, there are more than 1 million people who are internally displaced within Ukraine. The report says more than 5,000 people have been killed and more than 14,000 have been wounded since April 2014.
“Much of the refugee work of Lutherans began in European conflict over a century ago, and the relief expertise was built some 70 years ago, again related to conflict in Europe,” said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal. “It is distressing to see old divisions renewed, with such destruction and disruption of lives. It invites despair, but we are a people who stand in hope. We invite others to live in hope and to the confidence that support extended through Lutheran Disaster Response follows that hope with real help and care of those who have been driven from their homes and livelihoods by this atrocious situation.”
Information about Lutheran Disaster Response is available at www.ELCA.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Ukraine-Conflict.