Billy Kennedy on Churches: Support for victims in under siege Ukraine

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The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal for world aid and development has committed £10,000 from its emergency funds to assist with the humanitarian response to the current war crisis in Ukraine.

The Bishops’ Appeal project is partnering with Habitat for Humanity Ireland and Christian Aid, and is encouraging parishes across Ireland to contribute to help fund Ukranian refugees seeking refuge.

Habitat for Humanity Ireland says upwards of one million people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries and reports that the charity has strong programmes in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

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Habitat is co–ordinating with governments to add value and ensure there is no duplication of effort.

Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop John McDowellChurch of Ireland Primate Archbishop John McDowell
Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop John McDowell

Christian Aid’s funds will go to sister agencies in the ACT Alliance. This network of Christian aid and development agencies includes the Lutheran World Federation and Hungarian Church Aid. The situation in Ukraine is rapidly changing and there is a high level of violence within the country.

Church of Ireland primate Archbishop John McDowell said: “The tragic and wholly avoidable destruction which we are witnessing in Ukraine leaves many of us in the West lost for words and at a loss to know how best to respond to alleviate suffering. Wars always create refugees and I am grateful that our church’s bishops’ appeal is targeting its immediate aid efforts to assist trusted agencies working in neighbouring countries to help those who have been displaced by this invasion.

“I would urge all our parishes to consider helping the appeal to increase the aid which it can provide by contributing generously in one of the ways outlined.”

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Parish donations can be made, by UK sterling or euro to:

* Meanwhile, Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart has called on the Home Secretary Priti Patel to support Christian missionaries and the church network in Ukraine as they seek to support and get aid to those most in need.

The MP, speaking in the House of Commons, asked the Home Secretary: “Missionaries from Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK are serving in Ukraine and helping those in need. Likewise, the local response of gathering practical aid in my Upper Bann constituency is humbling and commendable. Can the Minister tell us what is being done to work with the extensive church networks in Ukraine to deliver and distribute much-needed aid to those in need?”

In response, Home Secretary Patel said: “The Honourable Member makes a very important point. In fact, that was part of the conversation I had today with the Ukranian ambassador. Aid in Ukraine is absolutely needed; however, getting aid into the country is a challenge.

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“It is not straightforward: with all the restrictions and the situation on the ground, it is very difficult. I thank the missionaries and commend their work and that of all third parties. They are risking their lives to save other people’s lives.“

Ms Lockhart, speaking after the minister’s intervention, said: “It is important that practical aid collected in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK gets to the needy. It is vital that Her Majesty’s government assist those on the ground in Ukraine. The Christian church network in Ukraine is working to help those in need and because of this they are in great danger.”

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