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Left: Our sisters taking shelter in a basement in Ukraine. Right: Our brothers organizing relief supplies in Ukraine

MARCH 23, 2022
UKRAINE

UPDATE #4 | Brotherly Love Prevails Amid Ongoing Crisis in Ukraine

UPDATE #4 | Brotherly Love Prevails Amid Ongoing Crisis in Ukraine

Our fervent prayers continue to be with our brothers and sisters in Mariupol, where street fighting and bombings continue. Sadly, six of our brothers and sisters died during the bombings. Altogether, ten brothers and sisters have lost their lives in Ukraine. Also, as reported in the news, a theater in which more than 1,000 people were sheltering was bombed last week. None of our brothers were killed in this attack, but a few suffered minor injuries.

About 750 of our brothers have escaped Mariupol, while approximately 1,600 remain. Many of them are located in the east of the city, now under Russian control.

As previously reported, about 200 brothers and sisters have been sheltering in the basement of a complex with a Kingdom Hall and an Assembly Hall. When communication was briefly established, the brothers in the complex reported:

“During the bombardments, quite a few of the brothers and sisters were very frightened. Some started to cry. When we heard the explosions outside, we thought that we might die either from the explosions or from the fire. One elder suggested that the group sing Kingdom songs. We sang 10 to 15 songs together, one after the other. The louder the explosions became and the stronger the building started shaking, the louder we sang. Then we read Psalm 27 and discussed it. Afterward, all started sharing their favorite scriptures from the Bible and explained how these strengthened them. . . . We experienced that Jehovah is indeed ‘the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort,’ who can calm us in the most difficult moments.”—2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.

Self-sacrificing elders and members of the local Disaster Relief Committee (DRC) search for their fellow believers and bring them food and medicine when needed, even at the risk of their own lives. At times, these brothers have to crawl on the ground to protect themselves from gunfire while they search the city. We are proud of our brothers, who ‘are risking their own necks’ for their fellow believers.—Romans 16:4.

Since gas and electricity are not available, throughout the city courageous sisters cook food outside on fires. The food is then delivered to elderly and disabled publishers. Many of the friends have lost their homes, cars, and material possessions, but they are grateful for the love and care of their fellow believers.

Sisters cooking outside the entrance of the basement where they take shelter

Those in the shelters are trying to continue their spiritual routine by studying the Bible together and sharing the Bible’s message with others where possible.

As of March 22, 2022, the following totals have been reported from Ukraine. These statistics are based on confirmed reports from the local brothers. However, the actual numbers may be higher, since it is difficult to maintain communication with all regions of the country.

Effect on Our Brothers and Sisters

  • 10 publishers have died

  • 27 publishers have been injured

  • 33,180 publishers have fled their homes to safer areas within the country

  • 78 homes were destroyed

  • 102 homes sustained major damage

  • 484 homes sustained minor damage

  • 1 Kingdom Hall was destroyed

  • 4 Kingdom Halls sustained major damage

  • 18 Kingdom Halls sustained minor damage

Relief Efforts

  • 27 DRCs are operating in Ukraine

  • 25,069 publishers were assisted directly by the DRCs to find safer accommodations

  • 14,308 publishers have fled to other countries and are being assisted by fellow worshippers