An update on the situation in Ukraine from those helping on the ground

May 13, 2022

It is difficult to imagine the complexity of dealing with the advent of a war situation from any perspective, let alone from those who are in the forefront providing support for people fleeing from conflict.

From 20th March to 11th April 2022, representatives from the Xavier Network and Jesuit Refugee Service teams conducted a field needs assessment in Romania, Poland, Ukraine and Hungary to determine what is happening on the ground and develop a strategy for addressing the human needs arising. Pilar Lopez-Dafonte Suanzes, Emergencies Coordinator for the Xavier Network, shared this update about the team’s findings.

The team spoke with JRS staff, Jesuit works and refugees themselves to gain a clearer understanding of the needs of those forced to leave their homes.

The work happening in Romania gives a sense of the scope of the challenge. In the 44 days up to 8th April, 678.081 Ukrainians arrived in the country. At least 38% were children (including eight hundred separated from their families) 62% of the adult arrivals were women. Here, JRS took emergency action from the first day of the conflict by providing humanitarian assistance and information at the border as people began to leave Ukraine. In the intervening weeks that assistance has continued with accommodation, emergency assistance (food, personal hygiene products and clothing), legal assistance and health, psychosocial and educational support.

The devastating humanitarian impact is echoed throughout the region. Poland received over 2.5 million refugees in two months and acted quickly to provide assistance. Emergency measures implemented by the Polish Government mean that Ukrainian refugees have been given leave to remain in the country for 18 months and to register for an ID number that will allow them to receive various forms of assistance. The Society of Jesus in Poland has mobilized itself to respond to the humanitarian crisis, offering all its infrastructural and humanitarian resources to support refugees. In real terms this has meant refugees being accommodated in Jesuit communities, spirituality centres and the private homes of trusted individuals. It has also included emergency kits, including food, personal hygiene products and clothes.

The Xavier Network and Jesuit Refugee service, working with Jesuit works around the region are looking both to the immediate needs of those fleeing the conflict and medium and long-term needs, be that accommodation, legal assistance, psychosocial and spiritual support, and language and skills training. For those who have been forced to flee life will never be the same again. However, the efforts of the Xavier Network and Jesuit Refugee Service will help those impacted by the crisis to begin again in hope.

Your support continues to be essential. Your generosity will help provide ongoing assistance for people who have been torn from their families, homes and livelihoods as a result of war. Jesuit Missions here in the United Kingdom, is liaising with our partners in the Xavier Network and the Jesuit Refugee Service in countries in Eastern Europe to develop a coordinated approach to helping people in this new reality. Your financial support helps to make this possible. Please go to the Jesuit Missions website to donate online, here.

This update on Ukraine was shared with us by Pilar López-Dafonte Suanzes, Emergencies Coordinator for the Xavier Network, an international mission and development partnership between Jesuit organisations working in faith to promote justice.

Photo: Marco Giaccarra

BBC explores Ignatian Spirituality (come and try it for yourself)

September 27, 2021

Check out this programme about our founder, St Ignatius of Loyola, and why his spirituality matters.

Historical Jesuit treasures relived through exhibition

June 18, 2021

Two goregous exhibitions have finally opened in London, made possible by important Jesuit loans.

From the Archives: Celebrating the Ignatian Year

May 24, 2021

This year marks the 500th anniversary since the start of St Ignatius of Loyola's spiritual journey.

Novenas to mark the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola

July 31, 2021

Jesuit parishes across the UK will be sharing their contributions in the run-up to the feast day.