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Situation Report: Ukraine and Eastern Europe (July 7, 2022)

Lutheran Disaster Response has raised over $10 million in support of refugees and internally displaced people in Ukraine and surrounding countries. New partnerships in Eastern Europe include:

  • L’Arche has nearly 60 years of experience supporting people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and knows they are among those most at risk in times of crisis. It is providing immediate relief to refugees with disabilities in Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. Activities will include purchasing accessible vans to transport people with disabilities within Ukraine and along the border, building the capacity of local disability service providers and adaptations for people with disabilities who evacuated under duress without the necessary support for life with disabilities. This project allows L’Arche to live out their mission on behalf of those with disabilities and their surrounding communities as they work to survive and to help others to their greatest ability, even while under the threat and impact of the current war.
  • International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is the international humanitarian aid and development agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. IOCC is providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced peopele in Ukraine, Romania and Poland. This humanitarian assistance includes distributing essential items, securing temporary accommodations, training volunteers and helping students continue remote education.
  • Lutheran World Federation has expanded its programming to the Czech Republic, where it is working with local partners and churches to retrofit multipurpose spaces to accommodate refugees from Ukraine.


Partner Update: Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia (ECACS)

An image of two people, a man and a woman, in a stocked warehouse in Slovakia.

Warehouse in Pozdišovce, Slovakia, where the congregation stocked supplies to shuttle to the hospitality tent. Rev. Denisa Kuruc Vargova, pastor of the church, is pictured with her husband, Andrej Kurue.

Now four months since war began in Ukraine, the ELCA’s partners in Slovakia are assessing their response to date and planning for the medium and long term.

During the initial acute phase of the emergency, the Evangelical Diaconate coordinated a humanitarian tent at the Vyšné Nemecké border crossing, where volunteers from all over the region came to help. Working in 12-hour shifts, volunteers were available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer food, drinks, information and logistical assistance. The ECACS congregation in Pozdišovce, about a half hour drive from the border, stocked a warehouse with supplies that they shuttled to the border, and offered lodging for both refugees and volunteers.

“Some of these people have lost everything,” said Lucka Martonova, volunteer coordinator for the border ministry. “We are here for them, to provide some food, some water … accommodation, transport.”

As the situation evolves, needs are changing. A joint meeting of representatives of the Evangelical Diaconate ECAV in Slovakia and the Protestant Agency for Diaconia and Development – Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe took place in June to evaluate the use of existing assistance, monitor current accommodation needs and prepare for future cooperation. As the needs of the refugees change, so must the response of the church.


Be a part of the response:

Please pray for people who have been impacted by the war in Ukraine. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (Eastern Europe Crisis Response) will be used in full (100%) to assist those impacted by the war in Ukraine.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.

Attitude of an Overcomer

Teen pregnancy is both a personal and a social issue, and teenage mothers often must face personal, psychological effects as well as social stigma.  In the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, managed in part by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), most of the teenage mothers have experienced familial rejection and sexual- and gender-based violence. In the long term, many may also face depression, forced marriage and social rejection.

The LWF child protection department plays a major role in minimizing the factors that lead to teen pregnancy and in working to ensure the well-being of teenage mothers and their children.  The intervention and psychosocial support LWF provides is critical to their safety, health, and wellness. This program at Kakuma is supported in part by ELCA World Hunger.

Nyamok was only three years old when she and her siblings fled violence in South Sudan in 2002. They eventually made their way to Kakuma. Nyamok’s older sister, Nyaduk, cared for her until 2014, when Nyaduk left the camp to return to South Sudan.

In 2013, when she was 14, Nyamok was impregnated by a 25-year-old man from her tribe at the camp.  The man ran away after learning about the pregnancy, despite attempts by the community to arrest him. Nyamok faced both the personal effects of sexual violence and the social stigma of teenage pregnancy.  Shortly after finding out she was pregnant, Nyamok dropped out of Unity Primary School in Kakuma, losing hope of ever being able to finish her education.

Nyamok received counseling support from LWF Child Protection and enrolled in a support group for teenage mothers. This support helped her feel encouraged enough to return to school in 2015, one year after her daughter was born. Returning to school was not an easy choice. According to Nyamok’s cultural traditions, once a girl is pregnant, she is expected to marry. Nyamok did not marry, though, and faced stigma and isolation from other students her age. Still, she remained determined to continue her education.

In 2016, Nyamok sat for examinations for her Kenya certificate of Primary Education and did excellently, scoring in the top two percent of students. She is now trying to enroll in secondary school to pursue her dream of protecting girls and women as a lawyer.

Because of the support she received, Nyamok can now see a bright future for herself and her daughter. “God has a plan for each one of us,” she says. “I can tell that one’s attitude toward education is an important factor to success.” Her message to other child parents is hopeful: “Many people have gone through many hardships, but they have accomplished in life. You, too, can do that.”

Despite the challenges that refugees like Nyamok face, their resilience and hard work and the support of LWF make it possible for them to thrive. Through the LWF child protection department, ELCA World Hunger continues to accompany Nyamok and other teenage mothers as they pursue their dreams at Kakuma.

Photos: Lutheran World Federation