Is the war in Ukraine becoming "normality"? Not for the people of the UMC in the neighboring countries. Not even if their help is now more routine.
The work with refugees from Ukraine and the support for them by members and friends of the UMC in the countries bordering Ukraine is gradually changing. People still cross the borders and need help. However, their number has decreased. Some refugees return to Ukraine. Others continue to move to Western Europe.
Those responsible for the ministries in the various countries report that the focus of many activities has shifted from emergency aid to longer-term support. "They don't just want to survive," says László Khaled, superintendent of the UMC in Hungary, referring to people in a refugee camp in Debrecen (in eastern Hungary). Its residents want to find work and a rented apartment so they can stand on their own two feet.
Some of them also seek contact with the church, Khaled reports. On the one hand, they want to satisfy their spiritual needs here. On the other hand, they are looking for fellowship. The situation is similar in other countries. The Methodist commitment is therefore increasingly focused on longer-term support.
In addition, support continues to be given to the people in Ukraine. The UMC in Romania has organized two more aid transports to Ukraine. One of the transports went to Transcarpathia in the west of the country. Another brought medicines and medical equipment to a hospital in southern Ukraine.
Some UMC churches in Poland, Czechia and Hungary also continue to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine. They are in contact with Ukrainian friends to ensure that the shipments actually reach those in need, whether in the west of the country or further east - and that the goods sent meet the real needs of the people in Ukraine.
The Methodist commitment to refugees from and in Ukraine is now well structured. But nothing can hide the fact that the war in Ukraine continues to cause terrible suffering. That is why those responsible are not simply turning to other tasks now. They are praying for peace in Ukraine. At the same time, they continue to work for the internally displaced persons in and for the refugees from that country. They are doing this together with numerous helpers who, with amazing commitment, are constantly striving to meet the material, emotional and spiritual needs of those who have lost so much and whose lives have been turned upside down.
Source: Sigmar Friedrich, Zurich / Urs Schweizer, Zurich