UKRAINE’S AGONY

Seeking refuge from war                           Conscience International Photo

As the war in Ukraine intensifies, atrocities against civilians are capturing news headlines. Conscience International teams are traveling Ukraine’s war-torn roads and rocket-filled skies, carrying humanitarian aid.  The trips are dangerous, with convoys stopping at distribution centers inside Ukraine where the cargo is unloaded and disseminated to cities most in need around the country.

It takes 15 hours to travel 660 km from the Romanian border by convoy to Termopil and then west to Berezhany in Ukraine to deliver food, medicine, baby products, bedding, and clothing.  A book museum in Berezhany has become a supply storage facility and temporary shelter for 200 Ukrainians fleeing the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

 In a church near Chernivtsi our team found some 140 children and women, some quite elderly, who had fled the Port city of Kherson on the Black Sea, from Kyiv (the capital), and from Melitopol in eastern Ukraine—an area now under Russian occupation. Every room in the church is utilized, with mattresses in the balcony, in the Pastors’ offices, classrooms, and in the basement.  A staircase is stacked with supplies.

Conscience International is also rushing more than a thousand new blankets packed into a truck in Istanbul, Turkey for the four to five days-long drive to Suceava, Romania, where our team there will unload and distribute them to incoming refugees as well as to citizens inside Ukraine who have lost everything.   

Most of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children.  They want to be safe, but not go too far from their husbands and fathers who are required to remain in country and fight the Russian military.  Many Ukrainians are therefore deciding not to leave, but are moving as far away as possible from the conflict, reports Conscience International Engineer Robert Smucker.

For now, however, Romania has absorbed nearly 600,000 refugees who have crossed the border by land at several places, and by ferry across the Danube River. Most humanitarian operations in Romania are supported by local churches, as well as by international agencies and ordinary people opening up their hearts and homes.  Many of the refugees are traveling on to other countries in Western Europe, not knowing where their future will take them or whether they will ever be able to return to Ukraine.

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