Ukraine is in a state of civil war; schisms between Kyiv and pro-Russia separatists in the eastern and southeastern oblasts (provinces) have resulted in the outbreak of hostilities. 40,000 orphaned children are in harm’s way in the eastern regions – predominantly Donetsk and Luhansk – due to dangers ranging from diminished supplies and medical care to renegade militias and artillery barrages. The Fishermen’s mission was to travel to Ukraine and assist in the removal of orphaned children from potential crisis zones in the east to safety in the central and western regions of the country.
The Fishermen collaborated with the Alliance for Ukraine without Orphans and other United Nations agencies in Ukraine – in particular, UNHCR and UNICEF – to discuss their plan of action regarding refugees and children. Finally, The Fishermen established communications with the director of all free clinics in Ukraine to assess their medical needs, including supplies and personnel.
An evacuation plan was delivered with key stakeholder buy-in at both state and international aid agency levels. The adopted plan, when enacted, will see those children who still have parents (approximately 70%) returned home for protection. The remaining 30%, who are legally orphaned children, will be accepted as long-term guests by 3,200 participating churches across the Ukraine.