A really heartbreaking, yet powerful update has come through from our partner agency Habitat for Humanity on hearing the news that Bishops’ Appeal is immediately releasing €20,000 from our Ukraine Appeal to support the humanitarian efforts.
Jenny, the chief officer of Habitat really captures both the desperate situation and the array of practical short and long term responses already in place. She says:
“We are so thankful for that support which was mobilised by Bishops’ Appeal, and for all the support from churches.
When conflict threatens to overwhelm I am drawn to the words of Clarence Jordan, the spiritual father of Habitat who said ‘It is not enough to limit your love to your own nation, to your own group. You must respond with love even to those outside of it …This concept enables people to live together not as nations, but as the human race.’ In the pain of war we are praying that God’s peace and presence would be real, and that there would be a welcome wherever refugees need to find safe places to stay.
The numbers of people fleeing from the place they call home is growing by the hour. UNHCR now estimate more than 2 million people have already fled their homes and many more are on the move.
My colleagues on the borders are sharing heartbreaking stories of the women and children arriving with only what they can carry.
Our focus is both on supporting people on the move and the longer term shelter needs in host communities.
Immediate needs: heat for camps, as well as temporary beds and emergency basic care kits which include power banks for phones, travel vouchers, some local currency and other essentials.
In Romania many of the refugees will move onto other destinations and we are working in partnership with estate agents and hotel chains to ensure families have a safe place to rest, catch their breath and make plans for what is next.
Our longer focus is already being put into place:
Across the 4 neighbouring countries Habitat is helping coordinate what we are currently calling ‘Solidarity Shelter’ in partnership with local government and cities to help match and support refugees with shelter in private homes and in empty apartments.
We also expect the scale up our ‘empty spaces’ programme across the region which will require renovation of currently unused spaces, for example, in Poland we already deliver this in unused attic spaces of apartment buildings.
Once funds are transferred, we will send on immediately.”