Presbyterians hear how £1.1m spent in Ukraine

Members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s General Assembly have heard how the £1.1m they raised for Ukraine has been used on the ground to help struggling refugees.

By Philip Bradfield
Friday, 24th June 2022, 9:43 pm
Updated Friday, 24th June 2022, 9:44 pm

Launched by outgoing Moderator, Dr David Bruce, it came in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent refugee crisis.

Prof Zoltan Literaty, who was born and raised in Transcarpathia in the south-west of Ukraine, now serves as a minister in the Hungarian Reformed Church and is one of the Presbyterian church’s partners.

Now based in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, he said the population of his home region of Transcarpathia was about a million people, but is now coping with over 500,000 refugees. 

Overseas partners with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland at the 2022 General Assembly in Belfast. Left to rigt Prof Zoltan Literaty a minister in the Hungarian Reformed, Percy Patrick of the Gujarat Diocese of the Church of North India, Amon Chanika, Director of Scripture Union in Malawi with Rev Edwin and Anne Kibathi of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

“Lots of people from eastern and southern Ukraine found their safe place in Transcarpathia, as there is no war there at the moment,” he said.

“It is a safe place and hundreds of thousands of people have arrived in the region. You can imagine one day you see familiar faces in the village and the next day half of the village has escaped and different people have come, so it is a challenge.”

In the early stages of the conflict Prof Literaty took members of his church in Budapest to the Hungarian border with Ukraine to help.

“It was a totally new experience for me, working for 24 hours with no or little sleep.

“Every four hours a train from Ukraine brought thousands of people. Can you imagine that after days or weeks of journey, arriving in a country where they couldn’t speak the language?

“We tried to help these deeply traumatised people,” he said.

The Assembly also heard from Dr Károly Czibere, President of the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, about the support that they had been able to provide through the Moderator’s appeal.

“Since the outset of the war, our vans have been crossing the border daily, and more than 550 tons of in-kind donations have been collected, more than 300 tons of which has already been delivered directly to help with those fleeing the violence,” he said.

The aid included nonperishable food and hygiene products and medical supplies.

The assembly was updated that its 2021 World Development Appeal raised £446,879 to help with several world crises, including climate change, Covid, Ukraine, and the World Food Programme, which faces a shortfall of $10bn to feed everyone globally who goes to bed hungry.

The Assembly also heard from Myanmar churches who are “continuing to reach out with God’s love, despite being caught up in fierce fighting” following a military coup, and from the Gujarat Diocese of Church of North India, with Percy Patrick talking of the challenges facing “a very small Christian minority” among those who are not Hindu.