The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, begun by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, has led to an immediate and worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and its surrounding countries.
The invasion began the largest conventional military war in Europe since the end of World War II.
The world is witnessing for the first time in decades, through media outlets and social media, the devastation and hell-like conditions that war brings.
According to the Ukrainian emergency service, over 2,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed so far during the invasion.
And more than 1.7 million Ukrainians have fled the country, crossing into Central Europe, the United Nation’s refugee agency said on Monday. Over one million of the refugees have fled into Poland.
“This is a million human tragedies, a million people banished from their homes by the war,” the Polish border guard service tweeted over the weekend.
Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union (EU), said recently that the EU “could see as many as five million Ukrainian refugees if Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine continues.”
Yael Eckstein, president and CEO of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, recently told Fox News that even though she has “worked in the humanitarian aid field for over 16 years … in the past seven days, I have witnessed suffering and desperation that I have never seen in my lifetime.”
One orphanage in Zhytomyr, Ukraine that The Fellowship supports recently had to evacuate and transport the 60 children in their care out of the country by bus.
The woman running the orphanage, Malcki Bukiat, said that during their evacuation, “it was very difficult to keep the children calm. They were not used to seeing tanks, military vehicles and soldiers. They were very scared and some of them cried.”
After crossing into Romania, the children were then flown to Israel and greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Without a doubt, the conditions and circumstances that millions of Ukrainians are facing right now are dire.
And yet, it is precisely when the night is darkest that light shines the brightest.
Over the past week and a half, we have seen an outpouring of support worldwide for these refugees, with numerous examples of individuals, charitable organizations, companies and governmental organizations stepping up to the plate to help.
Goya Foods has announced that it is delivering hundreds of thousands of pounds of food to the people of Ukraine, with the company stating, “This is a historic attack and genocide on innocent civilians and we cannot sit back and do nothing.”
Celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have started a fundraiser on GoFundMe to raise money for the people of Ukraine. According to Fox News, Kunis “was born in Ukraine and moved to America shortly after the Soviet Union fell.”
They’ve set a $30 million goal and pledged to match up to $3 million. Through their fundraiser, over 30,000 individuals have donated more than $17 million so far, including Kunis and Kutcher’s $3 million donation which has already come through.
The money raised from their fundraiser is going to Flexport, which is “organizing shipments of relief supplies to refugee sites in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova,” and Airbnb, which is “providing free, short-term housing to refugees fleeing Ukraine.”
Samaritan’s Purse has deployed an emergency field hospital to Ukraine, where it can “provide specialized trauma care to people impacted by the conflict.”
“We are deploying life-saving medical care to aid people who are suffering,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse.
Additionally, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is deploying staff and resources to Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and Poland to help distribute food, support evacuation centers and help evacuate vulnerable children from conflict areas to centers in safe zones.
“The scale of the suffering is devastating, said Sean Callahan, CRS’ president and CEO. “As we pray for peace, we must continue to do everything possible to support the survival and dignity of Ukrainian families.”
The U.S. Department of State announced on February 27 that, in conjunction with the U.S. Agency for International Development, it was sending provisions of “nearly $54 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by Russia’s further invasion.”
The assistance “will flow through independent humanitarian organizations” and “includes the provision of food, safe drinking water, shelter, emergency health care, winterization, and protection.”
Also, the Polish government has passed a bill creating a special $1.75 billion fund to “help war refugees from Ukraine.”
Make no mistake, the circumstances faced by the millions of Ukrainians displaced because of the war are dire. And yet, it’s heartening to see the compassionate response of so many to help others whom they will likely never meet this side of eternity.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
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Photo from Reuters.