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Read about latest humanitarian efforts from across Europe aiding refugees


When the refugee crisis along the borders of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints immediately established a framework for Church member refugee integration.

The effort has included the creation of gathering hubs to provide for immediate needs, as well as a process to connect displaced individuals and families with a timely connection to local Church congregations where they can find temporary housing, food, other supplies and social and spiritual refuge.

It follows the pattern of Church response when a calamity or disaster strikes anywhere in the world, as the Church and its leaders assess needs for missionaries, members and friends. Most often, the vast majority of those receiving provided assistance are not Church members, but rather friends and neighbors in the local communities.

Since the onset of the Ukrainian crisis, the Church’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Services has been proactively involved in hundreds of humanitarian outreach efforts throughout Europe.

Together with local Church leaders and members, Welfare and Self-Reliance Services is coordinating assistance for those of all faiths at border crossings, gathering hubs and local Church buildings.

The Church’s Newsroom in the United Kingdom has been providing weekly updates highlighting recent efforts.

See how rolling suitcases, border meals, painted furniture and maternity wards provided by European Saints are helping Ukrainian refugees

Missionary volunteers serve food to refugees in Poland.

Missionary volunteers serve food to refugees in Poland.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Poland

Humanitarian missionaries are supporting volunteer efforts at the large Tesco refugee reception center, with several young missionaries busy there cleaning, serving food and providing language assistance.

The Church has donated a laptop to help the volunteer coordinator keep track of information on volunteers. It also donated a washing machine to help expedite the cleaning of mops, towels and supplies.

Two former senior missionary volunteers in Slovakia have recently come to Poland for several months to help with refugee efforts, working as technical representatives and coordinating projects with other non-governmental organizations.

One example: Save the Children is transporting 40 orphans stranded in Ukraine to a new home in western Poland, and the Church has donated bedding, irons and hot water kettles to the joint effort.

Sign language can provide effective country-to-country communication. During a pause in activity near the Poland-Ukraine border, one senior volunteer recently noticed a deaf couple signing alone in a corner. She walked up to them, greeting them through sign language as they responded with big smiles.

Missionary volunteers sweep floors at the Tesco refugee reception center in Poland.

Missionary volunteers sweep floors at the Tesco refugee reception center in Poland.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Hungary

The Church found a non-governmental organizations that is renting an entire hotel for refugees, with the Church now helping cover the cost of rent at the hotel. The 62-room hotel can house up to 300 women and children for short-term stays.

Slovakia

The Church is working with Nadacia Pro Futura in Slovakia to provide baby food and hygiene items to give to mothers with babies or toddlers arriving at the border. To date, some 400 kits have been distributed.

Also, the Church purchased and donated a new refrigerator and a wood stove heater to refugee centers in Baškovce, Slovakia.

Along with accommodations and donated items, food is provided at one of two Church-sponsored refugee centers in the Czech Republic.

Along with accommodations and donated items, food is provided at one of two Church-sponsored refugee centers in the Czech Republic.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Czech Republic

The Church has created two refugee centers in the Czech Republic. One is at the European Community Outreach Centre at Cumorah Academy near the capital city of Prague. The facility is offering accommodation, meals and education to nearly 50 Ukrainian Latter-day Saint refugees, eight of whom are actively preparing for full-time missionary service.

A second center is helping to accommodate up to 100 member refugees, providing a first stop as they arrive for temporary sanctuary. Food and lodging are offered free of charge, with local Latter-day Saints helping the refugees integrate into cities with established wards and branches to provide social interaction as well as spiritual refuge.

European Community Outreach Centre at Cumorah Academy near Prague, Czech Republic.

European Community Outreach Centre at Cumorah Academy near Prague, Czech Republic.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Iceland

While Iceland is a small and distant island nation nearly 3,500 kilometers (nearly 2,800 miles) away from Ukraine, the country has been active in receiving and hosting refugee families, including a Latter-day Saint family who fled Odessa and arrived in Iceland. The Church in Iceland is also contributing financially to the efforts of established NGOs in helping displaced individuals from Uraine, the UK Newsroom report stated.

More than 600 displaced individuals from Ukraine have arrived in Iceland, provided with lodging and employment. At one supermarket in the capital city of Reykjavik, shoppers are given the option to add 500 Icelandic Kronas — or $3.89 in U.S. dollars — to their charges as a donation to refugees.

United Kingdom

Earlier this month, Latter-day Saint women from in and around England’s port city of Hull gathered to make cloth bags, adding in donated hygiene items to create “welcome packs” for refugees. The JustServe project resulted in the production of 330 packs that were donated to Hull Help for Refugees.

What the Church is doing to help in Eastern Europe

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