Convoy of Hope, a faith-based disaster relief organization headquartered in Republic, is sending a team to Poland this week to lead Convoy’s efforts to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing their homeland.
Convoy will be working with partners in Ukraine and in surrounding countries to offer food, water, shelter, hygiene kits and other necessities to displaced Ukrainians.
“They’re in desperate situations right now,” Convoy’s national spokesperson Ethan Forhetz said of the refugees. “A one-day trip across the border is taking them five or six because there are fuel shortages. Some of the roads have been bombed. … It’s very difficult for them to get out.”
More than half a million Ukrainians are fleeing the war, according to the United Nations.
Some estimates project that at least one million refugees will flee Ukraine because of the Russian invasion, the New York Times reported.
Forhetz said he expects Convoy of Hope will be bringing disaster relief supplies to the region as part of a long-term response.
“The people who have fled Ukraine are not going to get settled anywhere anytime soon,” Forhetz said. “They’re going to need a lot of support. They’re going to need a lot of food and water, because a lot of them left with one suitcase. They don’t have much more than they can carry and that doesn’t include food and water.”
Convoy of Hope routinely sends relief teams and supplies following natural disasters around the world. Rather than sending a large number of volunteers, the teams partner with churches in those affected areas that can get locals to help distribute supplies to those in need.
“That experience has laid the foundation that we’re calling on right now to be able to help in a humanitarian crisis,” Forhetz said. “It’s all kind of the same, except war changes everything. Most of the time, we get to a disaster after it’s happened, and we’re able to do what we need to do to help the people.
“War is such a curveball, that it changes everything. We have to be very concerned about the safety of our people, our partners, as well as the refugees.”
Members of Convoy’s International Disaster Services team have been working with partners in Ukraine, as well as the nearby countries of Poland, Moldova, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Spain and Slovakia to formulate a strategy to help prior to Russia’s invasion.
You can follow Convoy of Hope’s response at www.convoyofhope.org/ukraine.
Springfield church sending team to help orphaned refugees
Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield is also sending a team to assist with orphaned refugees.
The team, which includes the church’s senior pastor, will be focused on providing immediate care and shelter to orphaned children from Ukraine, a new news release said.
Ridgecrest has a years-long partnership with an orphanage in Ukraine. The team is seeking specifically to connect with the families they have built relationships with, but otherwise provide care and resources on an as-needed basis in partnership with the International Mission Board, the release said.
The team is leaving from the Springfield-Branson National Airport at noon Wednesday.