The meeting took place in the context of the immense and long-term diaconal needs in Ukraine, where addressing trauma, bereavement, injuries (both physical and mental), loss of homes, loss of livelihoods, healing of memories and all the human cost of war will take many years to address.
Irrespective of the political situation, the human cost of war is of major importance to the churches and this must be reflected in the diaconal response to human need, noted Rev. Matthew Ross, World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for Diakonia and Capacity Building, who took part in the Interdiac strategic planning meeting and conference aimed to develop diaconal work in the region.
“I commend Interdiac for the innovative and important work that they are doing in diaconal learning and research. Even though fighting continues in Ukraine, there is a need to plan for a long-term diaconal response,” said Ross.
“Diaconal organisations such as Hungarian Interchurch Aid, AidRom and others have done and continue to do a superb job in helping refugees fleeing Ukraine,” noted Ross, adding that the long-term planning will require great care, sensitivity and consideration for human need in response to this humanitarian catastrophe, including in addressing trauma and loss.
Terrible human cost of warfare
“We are stressing the idea of Interdiac as a learning community, reading the signs of the times and responding to contemporary challenges,” explained Janka Adameova, director of Interdiac. “Dealing with instability and fragility is at the heart of the Christian experience, particularly in addressing the situations in Armenia and Ukraine as well as other parts of Eastern Europe. The value of building a response with our partner organisations is of great importance to us, including the WCC, in responding the diaconal needs of people in the region.”
The Czech town of Český Těšín – where Interdiac has its offices – is located on the border with Poland, right next to the Polish town of Cieszyn. Since the start of the Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, more than 5 million Ukrainians have left the country fleeing the war. Three million Ukrainian refugees are being hosted in neighbouring Poland, and more than 300,000 Ukrainian refugees have been received in the Czech Republic. In case of prolonged conflict in Ukraine, it is estimated that this number could reach 500,000, or about 5% of the total population of the country.