As severe cold weather spreads across much of Europe, one of the worst-affected countries is Ukraine, where temperatures have dropped as low as -36 degrees Celsius. More than 120 people are known to have lost their lives because of freezing conditions which the government has now given ‘natural disaster’ status. The Salvation Army is providing assistance to the most vulnerable people and Major Bobby Westmoreland (Divisional Commander, Ukraine Division) says: ‘We strongly believe our efforts have saved lives.’
In the capital city, Kiev, Salvationists and officers have collected warm clothing and purchased socks for distribution to homeless people living in shelters. Hot tea is being served to people taking shelter in subways and on the streets, and information about shelter locations is being distributed.
Prior to the excessive drop in temperatures, Kiev Corps (Salvation Army church) conducted a campaign across the city to collect warm clothing, leading to thousands of items being given out during December and January.
On one day six shelters were visited, with 400 kg of warm clothing and boots distributed, as well as 160 pairs of brand-new thermal socks and 30 sleeping bags. The Salvation Army is partnering with local government and the Ukraine central government’s social fund.
Officers and Salvationists in Yalta are distributing hot tea to the homeless and, as part of their usual activity, are caring for this vulnerable population. Yalta Corps successfully saved a mother and newborn child from the frigid temperatures and helped them to find shelter. The mother came to The Salvation Army in the last week of her pregnancy. She was helped with food, essential baby items and clothing, as well as being assisted in getting to a hospital for the birth of her baby.
In Kharkov The Salvation Army – in cooperation with local authorities – is providing hot meals, and in Lviv a Salvation Army team distributed clothing to 39 homeless people and served 41 meals.
Four cold-affected homeless people who came to The Salvation Army’s office in Simferopol were taken to hospital for treatment. Salvation Army volunteers helped them through the process. Several individuals and families were helped to heat their homes. The Salvation Army is partnering with the local city council in providing overnight shelter and hot tea for the homeless.