The displacement of millions of people both inside and outside of Ukraine, soaring fuel costs, the massive disruption of grain and fertiliser supplies (Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s biggest exporters of wheat) will impact us all. And lower income countries will feel this the hardest. Before the invasion of Ukraine my colleagues were writing, in this same newspaper, about the huge numbers of people in Afghanistan who don’t have enough to eat in ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’. Let’s not pretend that anything has changed in the space of a few months. The Taliban remain in control, a million children are at risk of starvation, girls are still being denied the chance to have a secondary education and millions of people find themselves displaced. Add to this the now soaring costs of grain imports. Though the international media spotlight has turned away from Afghanistan, this doesn’t mean the stories of human suffering and injustice don’t exist.
Christian Aid seeks to help those where the need is greatest. This need is immense in so many of the countries in which we operate: Ukraine, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Haiti, Burkina Faso. Whether it’s conflict, climate shocks or an earthquake forcing people from their homes, millions of people are hungry and on the move. Looking for refuge, for safety, something to eat. Christian Aid’s very existence, its foundations, lie in the human response to a massive refugee crisis: the one which followed the Second World War. Reaching a hand of support to our sisters and brothers is in our DNA, our humanitarian footprint. And now more than 75 years on we find ourselves responding to an even bigger refugee crisis in Europe, caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the same time as multiple crises around the world.
On the borders of Ukraine, we are supporting our local partners to provide essentials like clothes, food and temporary shelter for those who have left everything behind. One of our local partners in Hungary, HIA (Hungarian InterChurch Aid) says many waves of refugees have crossed the border since the start of the conflict and as these continue, the needs of those fleeing are likely to become even more desperate and complex. Christian Aid has also just released £2 million of funding for urgently needed medical supplies, including emergency first aid kits, oxygen kits and baby incubators. This money, generously donated via the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine Appeal, has quickly secured this equipment working in partnership with Crown Agents (a not-for-profit international development company).
On the first Sunday of April churches across Scotland and the UK united in prayers for peace in Ukraine. The bright colours of the Ukraine flag were beamed on to St Giles’ Cathedral in the heart of Edinburgh and on Glasgow Cathedral in Castle Street – a symbol of solidarity and hope in the darkest of times. As we approach Easter weekend we must continue to hold the people of Ukraine in our thoughts and prayers, alongside our global neighbours in Afghanistan and in the many hotspots where conflict and insecurity mean just survival – eating, drinking, not dying from cold – is a daily struggle. But we must never lose hope. Hope is the invisible thread that unites us and the enemy of injustice.
To find out more or to support the work of Christian Aid please visit: caid.org.uk and look out for our new campaign #UnitedByHope
Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland