Ukraine (MNN) — The Internally Displaced Persons from the Ukraine-Russia conflict number more than 300,000. That’s the official figure, but UNHCR officials believe the real number is two to three times higher. Many simply find shelter with relatives or friends and don’t alert anyone.
Despite a ceasefire, the numbers keep rising. Meanwhile, rapidly-falling temperatures are causing increasing hardship for the many IDPs who fled with few possessions, thousands of whom are currently housed in temporary facilities that are ill equipped for winter conditions.
The Special Rapporteur called for the urgent adoption of an IDP law based on international human rights standards, as a vital element “to enable all actors to respond effectively to their needs with budgets in place.” He insisted that adoption of a draft law, scheduled for 14 October, must not be further delayed and that other normative measures should be taken in the interim period.
Churches and civil groups have been stepping up to the plate to meet these needs as best they can in light of a government that can’t afford uniforms or helmets for its army. It’s a herculean effort, considering many of these churches and ministries have experienced severe losses of their own.
Victor Akhterov, director of FEBC Russian Ministries, explains that four months ago, “Our studios were robbed. We are grateful to God that our studios are still basically intact. We just have to replace some equipment, but the tower went down and the transmitter with it.” Then, last month, “Four people were killed, who were helping us, by the pro-Russian Separatists. The people who were killing them were screaming, ‘You evangelicals! We don’t need to hear [this] on our land!'”
It was a devastating blow. Akhterov says most of the Christians they work with in the region are less than ten years old. “Pray for the Church. This is what usually is not said: many of them are on the verge of losing their faith, especially the new Christians. They were hoping that God would protect them, and then they see the pastor’s kids being murdered. We need to pray for this young church in Ukraine.”
While this station is currently offline due to sustained damage, there is good news. “We actually recovered the transmitter from the rubble there, and [we] hope that it’s still in working condition. We are now restoring the studio.” Plus, Akhterov adds, they’re building a new tower. They’re hoping to be back on the air soon, “hopefully in October. And I’m speaking by faith, of course, because the war is still going. They have a so-called ‘peace agreement,’ but people are still shooting each other. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Things are changing moment to moment in this area. Ukraine is at a critical crossroads. Although a serious setback, the incident hasn’t silenced FEBC in Ukraine. Akhterov confirms this. “Of course in Western Ukraine, we are still broadcasting, covering roughly half of the country in the West. We are buying time in strategic cities.” Keep praying. Akhterov stresses this as an essential need. “We are also working on several projects opening stations in different cities in Ukraine. Ukraine is obviously in deep need of the Good News.”