Refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine are receiving help from TEN’s partners in Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria.
We are currently raising money for our Crisis Fund, enabling ministry to the vulnerable and support for partners during crises such as the war in Ukraine.
James Vaughton brings the latest news from Moldova on the huge effort to support thousands of refugees arriving in the country.
10th May 2022
As you will be aware the war in Ukraine continues. In the east of the country things are intensifying. A couple of weeks ago there were explosions in the breakaway region of Moldova, Transnistria. The situation is complex and there is the possibility that either Ukraine or Russia could escalate the war by bringing war to this small sliver of land on the south western border of Ukraine. This morning there is news of bombing in Odessa.
Over the last couple of weeks TEN has continued to stay in touch with our partners.
Ken and James caught up with Serghei, from Beginning of Life, last week. They are concerned about what is happening in Transnistria but continue to plan for the medium term and supporting refugees coming and staying in Moldova. Serghei and the team at Beginning of Life continue to send aid in Moldova, work with the UN to support refugees coming to the MoldExpo centre and the Baptist Union placement centre. They have also now appointed a worker to be responsible for work with refugees.
They are planning on renovating a building that is next to the church to provide support for refugees. The current space is now well above capacity. If they are able to renovate the building then they will be able to both continue their work to help Moldovans and provide more support for refugees.
Our partners in southern Moldova continue to host refugees as needed. We received reports from Ruslan, one of our partners near Cahul, that they had refugees staying with them last week.
Partners in the Constanta region continue to host refugees and send aid into Ukraine. TEN has sent funds in the last few days to support this effort. Partners have worked with TEN and friends of TEN in Northern Ireland to help five refugees travel to Dublin, with a view to going to Norther Ireland to live. These are folk that James, our CEO, met when he was in Romania a few weeks ago. Please pray that they settle well and that all the paperwork is sorted quickly so that the two families can begin to make Northern Ireland their home. Your support has helped fund the flights to Ireland. Thank you.
In Bulgaria, Sofia Baptist Church are hosting refugees too. Ami Oprenova was in the TEN office in early May and gave us an update on how they are responding. They are using a space owned by the church to give safe hospitality to Ukrainians who make it to Bulgaria.
James, our CEO, was interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol about the situation in Ukraine. Listen here.
25th April 2022
Beginning of Life, Moldova
The influx of refugees has started to increase again. Although most are now being encouraged to pass through Moldova into Romania and Western Europe.
Whereas in the early days of the war there were various NGOs running things at the border, the Moldovan government, alongside the EU is now running the support for refugees at the border and agencies like Beginning of Life are not permitted to. This is primarily to protect refugees from those with malicious intentions. There remain just under 100,000 refugees who are staying in Moldova.
Beginning of Life have settled into a pattern of support. They have recruited a refugee work project leader and the work has three main strands:
- Mobile teams working at the Baptist Union run placement centre, just outside Chisinau and the government run Moldova Expo centre in the capital city. The teams are providing activities for young people, art therapy and supporting those running the centres. Yesterday (21/04) Serghei met with UNHCR to discuss how they can support their efforts in MoldExpo in a more official capacity.
- Providing interventions for refugees at the Beginning of Life centre and Light to the World church building. They are offering their youth, family and therapy programmes to refugees. Some of these are integrated with Moldovan beneficiaries but some activities are specifically for Ukrainian refugees.
- Humanitarian aid – they are currently sending a van of food and aid supplies into the Odessa region once a week. One full van has a value of about €5000. This is not a long-term plan but whilst it is possible and needed they continue to send the aid in. They have sent 5–6 trucks in the last three weeks.
The medium and longer term
As the war grinds on BoL are planning ahead. They have adapted their programmes to incorporate and serve the needs of the refugees. They not establishing new programmes but rather, using the expertise and experience they have and applying it in the current crisis circumstances.
The bigger picture is that they recognise whilst media attention is on Ukraine there are ‘wars’ going on along the southern boundary of Russia in the Caucuses and into central Asia. Serghei said, “the region is on fire.” BoL have experience in reconciliation work and are looking ahead and building links with Ukrainian pastors who, when the time is right, will want to work towards reconciliation with Russians.
They also have the opportunity to use a building next door to the main church and BoL centre to turn into a refugee restoration centre. It could also be used for the reconciliation work. They have received $20k towards the refurb work that needs to be completed and require a further $40k.
This work may well be a fruitful channel for further TEN support in the coming months and years, as part of our response to the war in Ukraine.
Partners in Constanta region
James caught up with our partner in the Constanta region. This week. Refugees continued to be housed in the hotel, kindly offered by the local hotelier. However this accommodation is likely to be more vulnerable as the holiday season begins in May. The implications might be that the refugees have to move out and be housed in homes or that the church has to try and pay a contribution towards the accommodation costs. One family of refugees, that James met on his recent trip, has now gone on to Austria.
The border in SE Romania remains quieter at the moment. However, the threat of the war moving across the south is likely to send another wave of refugees into the region. Once the Easter weekend (23/24 April) is over more aid will be sent, if safe, into Ukraine.
TEN is working with a small organisation, Starfish – run by a TEN friend, to bring up to five refugees that James met when in Romania to Northern Ireland. They are currently working on the paperwork. TEN will fund flights for these refugees. Starfish run the administration and visa application process. Starfish also identify Christian homes for the refugees to live in and help orientate them into the UK.
11th April 2022
In Moldova, over the last couple of weeks the numbers of refugees have continued to slow. However, just under 100,000 remain in Moldova. This puts a significant strain on the country’s resources. The refugees are being hosted in homes, churches, community centres and rented facilities. 70% of them are being looked after in the private sector, which underlines the generous response of Moldovans to Ukrainian refugees.
Beginning of Life (BoL) have continued provide a 24/7 hour helpline for refugees seeking help. Working with local churches they have helped 300 people in the last couple of weeks. The team have continued to transport refugees to placement centres and provide tickets to get to other countries. A lower influx of refugees means the team are not on the border, although they have been taking aid into Ukraine. BoL and Light to the World Church have joined other evangelical Christian organisations and churches to support refugees. One example has been a playground zone for children and art therapy. The BoL team continue to serve refugees on a weekly basis in the Baptist Union placement centre in Baltsata. Due to the demand of those staying in Moldova, BoL have had to open new programs specifically for children and mothers.
“We are so thankful that we have brothers and sisters who invested so much time and energy in serving children and broken women, what they can use now, during this crisis. Many others needed to change their approach and programs while BOL team was already doing that. Thank you for helping us here…” – Anna Petrenko, coordinator of children’s engagement at Baltsata Refugee Centre
In Romania, over 650,000 refugees have come into the nation. Our partners in the Roma community of Tinca welcomed a group of Ukrainian Roma into their homes. After a few days the refugees wanted to return to Ukraine to be with the wider family and so were taken back to the border with Ukraine by TEN partners.
James (our CEO) has been in Romania with our partners (Oradea and then Constanta region). In Oradea, our partners at CASA Grace have also been getting supplies to the Northern Romanian border with Ukraine. These have included medicines, hygiene and clothing.
In the Constanta region of Romania weekly supplies of clothes, medicines and food are going into Ukraine through TEN partners . The latest delivery was Wednesday 6th and there is likely to be another one this week. These leaders met with pastors in Ukraine and have been able to pass them supplies to get to Odessa. Whilst there, one of our partners reports that he met young men from bombed communities in the Kyiv region whose fathers have been taken by the Russians. The church in the Constanta region continues to provide a Ukrainian language service.
In Bulgaria, our partner in Svistov reports that, refugees continue to arrive in growing numbers. The church reports they are helping serve those who are staying in municipal and student housing. They had a couple join them at church.
Please use these notes as a source to guide your prayers.
There is lots of support going to our partners and that includes yours. All the partners highlighted above have been helped by funds raised through the current crisis fund campaign. Thank you.
If you want to help refugees…
Love Bristol are helping on the Poland-Ukraine border and are looking for volunteers to join them for a week to serve by supporting families and refugees. They say, if you have some time and a current passport, they can use you. Email: email@example.com or click here to go to their Facebook page.
Further useful information:
The Sanctuary Foundation are running a webinar on how you can help refugees. Click here for information. The following websites may also offer further help:
25th March 2022
In Moldova, we are told the number of refugees has been less intense this last week. However, with 100,000 refugees Moldova is stretched to breaking. Nearly half the refugees are children. Beginning of Life (BoL) continue to transport refugees to placement centres, western borders and transport terminals. They have, in the last week, supplied an additional 75 beds and linen for refugees in four churches. They continue to supply hygiene, medical and food supplies for those coming into Moldova and have used their centre for the provision of activities for children and parents who are traumatised. BOL have also helped get some children into local schools and find employment for some adult refugees.
Elsewhere in Moldova partners continue to help where they can. Mark McCormick, a friend of TEN, currently in Moldova, reported on a call that those he and church leaders are helping where they can. The Baptist Union (which support from TEN has helped) in Moldova are looking after around 240 guests. Mark also reported a great openness to the gospel and churches are seeking to serve both the physical and spiritual needs of those coming into Moldova.
In Romania, church leaders continue to transport refugees from the Odessa border in SE Romania. There are reported shortages of transport. TEN has sent funds for a minibus which has been purchased, thanks to TEN supporters, and will be helping refugees get to where they need to. One pastor reports that the situation is very dynamic; some refugees stay, some move on. One of the Ukrainian pastors we had been helping get aid into Ukraine has had Covid and been in hospital. James Vaughton, our CEO, will be visiting SE Romania in early April.
Elsewhere partners further afield in western Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia are also helping refugees; receiving them, providing somewhere to stay, meeting needs and providing transport. Support raised through our crisis fund has gone to help these partners where support is needed.
James Vaughton continues to liaise with various other mission agencies to both share updates of what our partners are doing and get the picture from elsewhere. James spoke on on BBC Radio Bristol on Sunday morning about the crisis. We know some have been asking us about providing homes for refugees. The UK government sponsorship system does not seem to be working quite in the way many imagined. If and when we can offer further guidance we will.
In the meantime, the following websites may offer some help:
Thanks for your prayers and support.
17th March 2022
In Moldova, Beginning of Life continues to support refugees coming into the country with transport, support to find accommodation and provision for basic needs. They are also getting aid back into Ukraine. They have helped hundreds of refugees directly and thousands indirectly, working with local churches and the government. Pastors in the south of Moldova are providing support for those moving through the country to Romania. This includes a bed for a few nights, hot meals and transport. To date over 300,000 have come into Moldova and 100,000 have stayed. The numbers have slowed in the last week.
In Romania, our focus continues to be with partners working together in the Constanta region in southeast Romania. Several thousand cross the border daily. Churches continue to work together to provide accommodation for the medium term. Refugees can stay for three months while they decide what they do next. Partners are having to provide beds, clothing and equipment like washing machines for churches hosting refugees. One pastor has made room for a Ukrainian language church service on Sunday afternoon! They also continue to get supplies into the Odesa region of Ukraine. 5-6 shipments have now been sent. Romania has now had about 500,000 refugees.
Other partners further west in Romania are helping provide accommodation and meet basic needs. We now know of partners in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Montenegro who are helping Ukrainians.
TEN is supporting our partners in all the activities above. Funds given are being sent out in response to partner needs. Supporters have helped us raise or pledged about £80,000. TEN has provided support of about £50,000 so far. In addition to this TEN has funded the purchase of a second-hand minibus to enable partners in Romania to transport refugees, this will mean they can stop renting a minibus and paying drivers.
In the UK James, our CEO is talking with other mission agencies across Europe as agencies work out how to collaborate not only for now but over the longer term, in the best way to serve refugees.
Thank you for your support and prayers.
Useful sources of information on data can be found at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (general statistics on Ukrainian refugees) and on the Moldovan Government website (statistics related to refugees in Moldova).
8th March 2022
We report on the amazing response of TEN’s partners in Romania and Moldova who are reaching out to refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and attempting to reach the borders of friendly nations. There are stories of refugees being taken from the border crossings to safe accommodation with Christian families and locally sponsored hotel rooms. Efforts are being made to bring medical and food supplies into southern Ukraine thanks to local pastors who remain in the country.
In Moldova, the evangelical churches are all working together to offer support to refugees. Beginning of Life organisation in Chisinau is working alongside the government to process thousands of refugees, offering short-term accommodation and providing day camps for many children.
TEN has launched a Crisis Fund www.ukrainecrisis.org.uk and already raised over £45,000 enabling grants to be made quickly to assist TEN’s partners on the frontline of support for refugees.
Thank you for your prayers your generous support, your church collections and the interest you have shown. Please continue to pray.
3rd March 2022
The main focus of TENs activity in relation to the crisis is among partners in Moldova and Romania. Specifically, we have been supporting Serghei at Beginning of Life in Chisinau, Moldova and some of our partners in Constanta in Romania.
We have also been in ongoing communication with Rachel Graham in Northern Ireland who is trying to do what she can to support pastors in Ukraine and get some funds into Ukraine.
Beginning of Life, Chisinau, Moldova
James spoke with Serghei this morning. BoL is working with the Moldovan government to support refugees entering the country mostly en route to other countries. There have been 114,000+ refugees have arrived and about 75,000 have already left Moldova so far.
It has been snowing which means it is very cold and wet for those queuing at the borders. www.mai.gov.md/ro/news
There are too many for the Moldovan government to cope with. The MoldExpo exhibition centre is full to overflowing. BoL has taken families to the Urban Centre and other churches are also helping to house refugees. This was not part of the original plan but it is what is needed.
Serghei highlighted that there are lots of conflicting reports on what is actually happening in Ukraine. It depends on which media you watch. They are having to encourage their team to look at a variety of media sources to try and maintain a balance. This is also a war of information Serghei stated.
There is a growing fear that if Odesa and Western Ukraine fall then Transnistria and Moldova itself may be next!
A couple of vignettes…
Serghei: BoL team were driving and saw a car with two Ukrainian women in, being hassled by Moldovan men. They got out, asked the men to leave or they would call the police. Then men left. It is not 100% clear what exactly was happening but it may have been human traffickers pretending to offer help, so as to exploit women and girls.
A Romanian partner knows of a story of those trying to exploit the situation. The sister-in-law and daughter of a friend of his had paid €5000 to be taken safely through the border. They were taken to the border. Dropped before and left to wait. They waited in the cold and wet for 3 days with no food. Upon getting in to Moldova they took a lift with some men. These men robbed them of all their money and left them 20km inside the Moldovan border. They are now safely on their way to Romania.
Serghei also highlighted the plight of a Russian family stuck in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine. Their mother, in Russia, had got in touch with BoL to ask for help. The family has no money and doesn’t seem to be able to go East, because of the fighting. Serghei was surprised at this but it was interesting to hear this insight into life for Russians stuck in Ukraine. According to Guardian newspaper statistics about 50,000 refugees have fled to Russia.
Our Romanian partners have been very quick to respond to the crisis in Ukraine. He has now established two routes for support. Local Christians and townspeople are providing homes for refugees to stay in. When we spoke on 3rd March 40 families had been offered accommodation. His church people are at capacity. They will be receiving around 16 families from Ukraine today. They will stay in the hotel that has donated rooms for up to two months for folk to stay in. They happen to be a Korean community that is also Ukrainian.
Another route of support is via pastors of a group of 30 churches in the Odesa region of southwestern Ukraine. They were army chaplains and so are able to cross the border into Romania and return.
Our partners used funds from TEN to provide a van full of food, sanitary products and medical supplies. Those supplies made it safely back to Ukraine and this morning (4th March) we received photos of the supplies in the hospital.
Another partner got in touch on Monday 28th February to ask for help as they support refugees. We have now sent money for this work. The church pastors are all talking to each other to coordinate the offer of car/van lifts for the refugees.
Other partners are also supporting refugees. In Oradea, CASA Grace has been sending supplies to help families of refugees and both Emanuel University and Emanuel Baptist Church are receiving increasing numbers of refugees. We have (4th March) received an email from a partner in Bulgaria to let us know refugees have reached them too.