During the current war in Ukraine, a branch of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is working in Lviv. Fr. Andrii Syvak SJ, a Jesuit residing there, describes its current situation:
„Currently, most people who come from Kiev, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Crimea, Kherson, Wolnovachy and other regions are women and children. Men usually come only as they transport their wives, children, sisters, mothers to safe place. There are, however, some who are exempt from military service for various reasons. Most of these people are not planning to stay, but are looking for an opportunity to leave Ukraine, so the Jesuit refugee house in most situations is a transit point, where people can rest after their exhausting journeys. Refugees often have a few days behind them in trains, buses, and cold train stations. They come to eat, rest, wash, warm up and then move on. It is worth noting that in recent days, due to the relatively safe situation in Lviv, the number of people who want to stay in Ukraine is increasing. These people are following information about how the situation is developing and intend to stay in Lviv as long as it is safe”.
Many of them have relatives and friends in the area where hostilities are ongoing, which is a serious psychological burden for them. They receive psychological and spiritual support at the center”.
„At this time our home is able to accommodate about 35 people. We provide beds, food and access to laundry and bathrooms for all. We also provide clothing and medicine for those who need it. The conditions in our refugee house are good compared to other refugee points, that have been set up in recent days. Above all, we are trying to make people feel that they finally reached safe place”.
„In this tragic time for Ukraine, the experience of working with refugees is a real blessing. It allows us to effectively help those who have been forced to leave their homes”.
The JRS branch in Lviv was registered in 2005. Three years later it opened a building specially adapted to receive refugees. For the first years, it received refugees from abroad: Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Palestine, Afghanistan and others. Since December 2014 displaced persons from the Crimean peninsula and from the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk began to arrive. Refugees were provided with accommodation, food, legal and spiritual-psychological assistance.
The refugee house in Lviv began preparing for the onset of further hostilities from Russia as early as December last year. From that time until the beginning of the Russian invasion, there were preapred supplies of food, basic medical supplies and alternative sources of heating and electricity. Support is now arriving from JRS headquarters and from the „Jesuit Aid for Ukraine” team. Thanks to all these circumstances, Lviv’s JRS can effectively respond to the needs of the current situation.