LDS Church gives another $4M to help Ukrainian refugees

This humanitarian crisis “will change the face of the church in Poland forever.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Sixty bags of clothing collected by Latter-day Saint youth in Friedrichsdorf, Germany. The clothing was delivered to refugees in Frankfurt.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday an additional donation of $4 million to help “refugees in Europe,” the second major pledge in less than a month.

The latest infusion of cash will be divided among seven projects aimed at funneling urgently needed food, medicine, clothing, shelter and other relief to Ukrainians who fled their country — as well as those who remain within the besieged nation.

Among the efforts to receive funding is one focused on providing antibiotics for infants inside Ukraine, some of whom have developed fungal lung diseases as a result of being born in hospital basements, according to a news release.

Earlier this month, the Utah-based faith announced a pair of $2 million donations — one to the World Food Programme and the other to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — in support of efforts aiding Ukrainian refugees.

According to the latest release, the church has also been “very active in ministering to Ukrainian refugees” in Hungary, supplying two major nongovernmental organizations with tents, temporary beds, sleeping bags and hygiene kits.

Other countries where the church has teamed up with agencies to offer relief to refugees include Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

Latter-day Saint volunteers as far away as the United Kingdom, meanwhile, have participated in a “vast response … so immediate that NGOs on the ground are working on distribution logistics” to effectively disperse the large amounts of food, medical supplies and clothing items bound for the border of Ukraine and Poland.

“It brought me a feeling of peace to be able to do something hands-on to help,” Chris Morris, a Latter-day Saint from Lichfield, England, said in the release, “even if it was only in a small way.”

Another church member, Carmen Pârnău, explained in a separate release that she has “seen many mothers with little children that struggled because of the cold weather and extreme exhaustion” while volunteering in Romania.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Latter-day Saints in Spain pack boxes of food items and medical supplies.

Stacy Chandler, a Latter-day Saint women’s leader in Poland, said the humanitarian crisis “will change the face of the church in Poland forever.”

The Europe Area Presidency, the governing body for the church in 38 countries, is overseeing the humanitarian response and Latter-day Saint funding for refugee support.

“We want the right supplies, financial support and people to go where they are needed the most — and as quickly as possible,” Massimo De Feo, president of the Europe Area Presidency, said in a March 18 release. More than 600 Ukrainian refugee members of the church have benefited from this coordinated effort.

Mariia, who’s last name was not provided, is among this number. Originally from the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, she had been attending a conference for Latter-day Saint young single adults in western Ukraine when Russia invaded. Unable to return home, she and 20 other conference attendees headed for Lviv and then Poland, where she used a “church-sponsored Facebook program” to get help.

In the latest release, the church acknowledged that members who want to help may struggle with knowing the best way to do so. In answer, it stressed the importance of “allowing local leaders to use the church’s financial resources to purchase goods and services in each local economy to help provide what is truly needed there.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 3.7 million Ukrainians have left their homes for neighboring countries. An additional 6.5 million are displaced within the country itself, a March 9-16 study by the International Organization for Migration showed.

“The scale of human suffering and forced displacement due to the war far exceeds any worst-case scenario planning,” IOM Director General António Vitorino said in a news release.

Poland, according to the U.N., has inherited the largest number of Ukrainian refugees (more than 2.2 million) of any country, followed by Romania at 572,000.