The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Ukrainian Refugee Crisis Update

By: for ISKCON News on Aug. 15, 2014
Photo Credits:

Refugees who fled the turmoil in Eastern Ukraine made a video plea, where they hold a poster with the hashtag #DontKillUs

Over the past few weeks the Ukrainian refugee crisis has intensified. Risking their lives, many more ISKCON devotees are trying to flee from the troubled region. One of ISKCON's refugee coordinators in the Donetsk region has been arrested by separatists. 

Niranjana Swami's update about the refugee relief effort:

By Lord Krishna's grace, the first phase of our refugee relief effort in Ukraine has been very successful in transporting, securing, and sheltering the lives of over two hundred of His devotees, including a large number of children. Ukrainian leaders managed to relocate and accommodate the refugees' families, provide adults with temporary or permanent employment and single mothers with adequate maintenance for them and their dependent children. Unfortunately, due to disrupted communications in areas of combat, we cannot provide an exact number. On record, seventy-eight (78) adults and thirty-eight (38) children have been provided transportation, accommodation and emergency maintenance. But we have evidence that it's at least double that number.

We are also identifying those still in need of help, although the disrupted communications has impacted this endeavor as well. On record, nineteen (19) adults and seven (7) have been able to leave the areas of intense conflict over the past week.

This prompt and efficient effort has become possible due to the overwhelming support we received from some 400 well-wishers across the world. We offer our heartfelt gratitude to those who generously responded to the Ukrainian devotees' plight.

At the same time, many Ukrainian devotees had to escape from the war into the neighboring regions of Russia, leaving behind all their belongings and sometimes driving through heavy shootouts and bombing. We are still in the process of ascertaining their number, whereabouts and specific needs, but the initial survey showed that there are 32 devotees (10 families and 8 children) in Krasnodar, around 10 in Rostov (South Russia), and several families in St.Petersburg and Moscow.

Local ISKCON communities immediately united around comforting the displaced devotees, collecting and contributing whatever they can: from blankets and basic furniture to baby food and nappies. Social network groups have been set up to create awareness and coordinate offers of assistance, employment, and accommodation. Dhira-krsna dasa has become the national coordinator for Russia, organizing communication between the yatras that presently host the refugees.

However, as confrontation in adjacent Ukrainian regions continues to intensify, it may force many more into looking for shelter in Russia. The South Russian yatras are bracing up for more devotees to care for, mobilizing their collective resources. At the same time, we have set up a central fund that will support such local relief efforts whenever they fall short of finances. 

Please continue to help support these devotees during these very difficult times.

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