Tracking the UCC Ukraine response
By Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson
The visit to Hungary entered a second day with visits to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHRC) office, Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, Hungarian Interchurch Aid, and Kulunba which is the implementing partner with HRCA Refugee ministry. We started learned about the response on the ground to addressing the needs of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Hungary.
There are 30,000 Ukrainians in Hungary with temporary protective status (TPS) which enables them to work and experience “integration and inclusion” in Hungarian society. TPS was granted to Ukrainians in multiple European countries as Europe opened it borders widely to accept Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war. The opening of borders between European countries to allow entry and safe passage for Ukrainians has been a vital part of the European response to the crisis. Under TPS, Ukrainians can go home and return to the country in which status is granted.
UNHCR has multiple offices in Europe which are connected as they assist with the response to the crisis. The identified challenges in addressing the needs of refugees include employment, childcare, mental health, trafficking, and the dangers of exploitation.
50% of Ukrainians surveyed identified mental health care as a priority. The UNHCR Representative noted there was a 20% increase in the global refugee population from 2021 to 2022 because of the war. Among the most vulnerable populations are people with disabilities, elderly, and single parents.
The second visit for the day was to the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) Synod offices which has undertaken astounding relief efforts. RCH is supporting the humanitarian response by providing food, shelter, mental health care, cash vouchers, accompaniment, jobs, childcare, language skills, language translation, rehabilitation programs, programs for children with special needs, and other services necessary for Ukrainians needing refuge from the war.
The United Church of Christ supports the efforts here in Hungary through the historic relationship we have with the Reformed Church in Hungary through Global Ministries. With these partners we are addressing the needs in Ukraine and ensuring as people are on the move, they have what they need be safe and to meet their basic needs.
The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, United Church of Christ Associate General Minister and Co-Executive of Global Ministries (the common overseas ministry of the UCC and the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ) is leading a four-person delegation meeting with global partners in Europe to see how UCC gifts are being used to help the people of Ukraine.