EDF grants $100,000 to CWS response for Ukraine, smaller amounts to DRC flooding and Venezuela epidemic

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to send $100,000 to the work of Church World Service (CWS) with Ukrainian refugees, $30,000 to l’Eglise des Freres au Congo (Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC) to provide food aid following flooding, and $7,500 to support an epidemic relief program of ASIGLEH, the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela.

Financial support for these grants is received at https://churchofthebrethren.givingfuel.com/bdm

CWS Ukraine humanitarian crisis

The allocation of $100,000 continues Church of the Brethren support for the CWS response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The focus is on support for Ukrainian refugees sheltering in Moldova and Ukrainians displaced in Odesa area.

Since the Russian military invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, each day of the fighting causes more civilian and military deaths, large-scale displacement of the Ukrainian people, and catastrophic damage to buildings, infrastructure, and the environment. According to the United Nations, as of May 16 this year, about 6.5 million refugees from Ukraine were still living outside of the country, with 5.9 million being recorded in Europe. Another 3.4 million people inside Ukraine continue to be displaced from their homes. The UN Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan for Ukraine estimates that the humanitarian crisis inside the country has left 14.6 million people (about 40 percent of the population) in need of humanitarian assistance. This complex crisis has the attention and intervention of much of the world. The United Nations is seeking $4.2 billion in 2024 to provide humanitarian aid inside Ukraine and in the surrounding countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia, which are housing and supporting Ukrainian refugees at a great cost.

The ongoing focus of the Brethren Disaster Ministries response is to identify and support those who remain underserved. CWS in 2022 identified the country of Moldova as one of the areas needing considerable assistance to support the large numbers of Ukrainian refugees. EDF grants in 2022 and 2023 have supported the CWS response in Moldova, reaching more than 44,000 refugees and their hosts. CWS has begun a new program for displaced people inside Ukraine, with a concentration “on remote villages of the Odesa Oblast (province), which remain remarkably underserved in the humanitarian response.” The programing will support established partners to provide food, basic living supplies, and protection support to vulnerable Ukrainians in need.

Prior EDF grants for this appeal total $200,000.

Flood relief in the DRC

The allocation of $30,000 for l’Eglise des Freres au Congo (Church of the Brethren in the DRC) will help provide emergency food aid to 950 households affected by the flooding of Lake Tanganyika. This grant will provide a distribution of maize, dried beans, cooking oil, salt, and soap to approximately 7,600 people in Uvira and Baraka. The beneficiaries are mainly pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, elderly, people with disabilities, and members of the marginalized Batwa tribe, as well as some of the most vulnerable members of the Church of the Brethren in the DRC.

The country is grappling with one of the worst flood seasons in more than 60 years, affecting 18 provinces since fall 2023. More than 2 million people are affected, with more than 300 deaths and nearly 100,000 homes destroyed, according to UNICEF. Heavy rainfall has continued in South Kivu Province, where most of the church congregations are located. People in the flooded areas need food, shelter, clean drinking water, and health and sanitation support, as well as support to restart their livelihoods. Church leaders echo these reports and add that the Church of the Brethren in Uvira has also been destroyed. The church’s grant application states that “the territories of Uvira and Fizi are areas already weakened by poverty, armed conflicts, and precarious infrastructure. The rising waters of Lake Tanganyika exacerbate these vulnerabilities, placing local populations in a critical humanitarian emergency. Without immediate intervention, the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people are at stake.”

Epidemic in northeast Venezuela

The allocation of $7,500 support an epidemic relief program for the Warao people in northeast Venezuela, where ASIGLEH has a mission point. An undetermined epidemic is killing children in a health crisis in the Delta Amacuro State. Pastor Humberto Robles and his wife have been ministering to the indigenous Warao families and have found many sick and dying children. A viral disease is suspected, but the Venezuelan health authorities have not been able to identify it.

The unknown nature of the disease is causing fear and desperation and there have been numerous deaths, including as many as five children from one family. Without guidance from the heath authorities, desperate parents have abandoned their homes, crops, and food to hopefully prevent the spread of the disease, leaving many families in need of food, medications, clothing, personal hygiene items, and bedding.

ASIGLEH will use the grant to provide 100 families (about 700 individuals) with food, hygiene supplies, and medical care as recommended by the Venezuelan health authority. The ASIGLEH team will continue their ongoing ministry to the area, which includes home maintenance/repair and activities for children. The grant will also provide transportation to the area for relief workers and supplies.

To contribute financially to these grants and the work they are making possible, give online at https://churchofthebrethren.givingfuel.com/bdm.


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