Latter-day Saints from Europe help as refugee crisis deepens in countries bordering Ukraine
Latter-day Saint leaders who oversee four countries hosting the bulk of Ukrainian refugees said Thursday they were providing humanitarian aid and called for a day of fasting and prayer on Sunday.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to those who are hurting and whose lives have been changed,” the Europe Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a letter released Thursday evening.
The church has provided sleeping bags, beds, tents and other supplies to local governments, the Red Cross and other groups helping Ukrainian refugees arriving in border countries, according to a separate statement. released Thursday evening by the church headquarters in Salt Lake City. The presidency of the Europe zone identifies the needs and responds to them with the support of the headquarters, the press release indicates.
“In the early hours, the church began contacting friends and collaborating organizations in the area to assess needs and purchase food and other necessities,” the statement from headquarters said.
The Europe zone of the church includes four countries that share a border with Ukraine and host Ukrainian refugees: Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary. These four countries have accepted more than 800,000 refugees, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
Russia and Ukraine are part of the Church’s Europe East Area.
UNHCR reported on Thursday that more than a million Ukrainians – 2% of the national population – have fled fighting that began when Russian forces invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea a week ago. .
“We invite all members to participate in a region-wide day of prayer and fasting for peace on Sunday, March 6, 2022,” members of the Europe zone presidency wrote to members in all 31 countries. for which they are responsible.
“We are grateful and amazed as we contemplate the generosity of so many of you across the region who have reached out to offer us your support,” said the Europe space presidency. “All who feel a desire to serve and contribute are encouraged to coordinate their efforts with their stake presidency or—for multi-stake projects—under the direction of the Area Seventy in their jurisdiction.”
Stakes are geographic groupings of five to 12 congregations. Area Seventies are leaders who oversee groups of stakes.
The church’s social services department and Latter-day Saint charities use local and regional leaders to identify needs and use church funds to purchase relief resources locally. They also regularly provide financial resources to larger partners like the Red Cross with established footprints in areas of emerging need.
The statement from church headquarters says further help is being arranged.
“Church members around the world have asked how to help or contribute. We invite them to do so through the church’s Humanitarian Relief Fund, which will be used to address this and other crises,” the statement read.
Last week, the church’s highest governing body, the First Presidency, issued a statement saying that senior church leaders “are heartbroken and deeply concerned about the armed conflict currently raging” and that they pray for peace and implore world leaders to seek a resolution. .
The Europe space presidency echoed this message in its letter on Thursday.
“As followers of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we yearn for resolution, comfort and peace in these times,” he said.