With the conflict in Ukraine continuing, the humanitarian emergency grows unabated. UNHCR reports that almost 3 million refugees have already been forced to flee, with an additional 1.85 million individuals on the move inside the country. An estimated 12.65 million people live in areas worst affected by the conflict.
As the need for humanitarian assistance and aid increase, JRS and the Jesuits continue to be actively involved In Ukraine and in the neighbouring countries to welcome and provide assistance to those in need.
Ukraine: Providing a safe haven to those on the move
The Jesuit refugee house in Lviv welcomes displaced people as they look for a safe place to eat, rest, and warm up after days of travelling in dangerous conditions. It serves as a transit point, as many want to continue their journey. We provide beds, food, medicine, and access to laundry and bathrooms for all. We also accompany them with psychological and pastoral support, as many of them have relatives and friends in the area where hostilities are ongoing, which is a serious psychological burden for them.
Poland: Welcoming refugees where the need is the greatest
With over 1,8 million people, Poland continues to be the country receiving the highest influx of refugees, with reception capacity stretched to the maximum. Jesuit communities have opened their houses from the beginning to welcome arriving refugees and provide them with shelter and initial support, including children with cancer and other serious health concerns. To meet the growing needs, JRS is also collaborating with other religious congregations to find additional accommodation options. We want to provide hope to those whose lives have been abruptly disrupted, so we are already developing long-term plans to provide scholarships to children in Jesuit schools and kindergartens. Necessities and supplies are also being collected with support from Jesuit parishes to be sent to those in need in Ukraine.
Romania: Offering multidisciplinary support at the border
While at first many of the Ukrainians arriving in the country wanted to reach other destinations, more recently there has been a spike in numbers of people that want to stay in Romania. JRS continues to be present in Bucharest and at the borders to ensure accommodation, first necessities, and legal advice for those who want to seek asylum.
The most urgent need remains finding appropriate accommodation for everyone, especially as we look now for medium and long-term accommodation, which is more complicated than provisional shelters. Fortunately, the response from the population has been overwhelmingly positive, with many families reaching out to our office to offer places to stay. In addition to providing essential needs like food and beds, JRS is also assisting with information and legal counselling.
Hungary: Building a network of hospitality
The local population continues to be very welcoming and involved, with the civil society providing accommodation and support. JRS is coordinating a network of different congregations to connect and match needs with accommodation options.
The government Is gradually responding to the needs. As major reception centers are not open due to poor infrastructure, refugees are hosted in smaller facilities. Those who do not want to stay are able to quickly leave the country through organized means of transportation or established connections beyond. Railways are travelling for free all over the country.
As JRS and the Jesuits continue to mobilise resources to provide aid and assistance, we join Pope Francis in calling for the immediate end of the conflict and in praying for the suffering people of Ukraine.