Moscow, July 24, 2014
On July 21, 2014, Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, head of the Synodal Department for Charity, visited refugees accommodated on the territory of the Voronezh Metropolia, reports Patriarchia.ru. The premises built on the territory of Holy Protection Church in Otradnoye Village in the Voronezh Diocese houses the region’s only church Center of Temporary Accommodation (CTA) for refugees, which exists solely at the expense of the Voronezh Diocese.
The new building that had been intended to be a foster parents’ school and an Orthodox kindergarten came just at the right moment when early in June refugees from the southeastern Ukraine started arriving in the region. Today, 106 people are staying at the shelter on the territory of Holy Protection Church, 48 of them children. During the most intensive flow of refugees up to 184 people were accommodated at the center at a time.
“Many refugees are very frightened, - relates Archpriest Gennady Zaridze, rector of Holy Protection Church. “Once some women dove to the ground upon hearing the sound of a helicopter flying by, and children hid under the table at the sound of a brick falling on a piece of sheet metal.”
The center in Otradnoye gives shelter to the families and helps them with the registration of temporary asylum status; necessary food and clothes, donated at diocesan parishes, are delivered here regularly. Communication with the rector of Holy Protection Church (who gives guidance to the center) as well as participation in church services and sacraments gives the refugees spiritual support. 16 Ukrainian residents have been baptized.
There is also a big municipal shelter in the Voronezh Diocese, located on the premises of the former children’s camp, “Koster”: over 200 refugees are currently accommodated in it, including 75 children. Bishop Panteleimon visited the camp, accompanied by Archpriest Vitaly Davidyuk, head of the Diocesan Department for Charity of the Voronezh Diocese. In the course of the visit Bishop Panteleimon met with the refugees at the camp assembly hall where he answered questions regarding both the spiritual life and social support of the people.
In total, according to data of July 18, there are more than 9,000 refugees in the Voronezh Diocese, around 1,500 of them put up at centers of temporary accommodation, while others have settled in the houses of local residents. Many of them are searching for employment in the region.
Parishes of the Voronezh Metropolia continue to collect funds as well as clothes, food and living necessities for the refugees, whose number is increasing every day. In the Rossosh Diocese alone over 45,000 rubles, donated at diocesan parishes, were spent on refugee assistance. There are numerous families with many children, pregnant women, unmarried mothers among the refugees and all of them are in need of targeted assistance.
The day before, on July 20, Bishop Panteleimon visited refugee camps (tent camps) near the border and centers of temporary accommodation situated in the Rostov and Shakhty Dioceses of the Rostov-on-Don Metropolia (refugee camps of the Ministry of Extraordinary Situations in Matveyev Kurgan, Novoshakhtinsk, and Donetsk), familiarized himself with the work of the Shakhty Diocese in assisting the refugees, and gave a high rating to it.
With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill fundraising in support of the Ukrainian civilian victims is in progress. By July 22, 34,748,718 rubles had been donated to the account of the Synodal Department for Charity to aid the refugees.