The Freemasons’ Charity the MCF and the United Grand Lodge of England UGLE have been monitoring the growing refugee crisis of over 500,000 Ukrainian people who have been forced from their country or been internally displaced from their homes.
As the situation in Ukraine deteriorates, trains leaving major cities like Kyiv for the border are packed. Huge queues are growing at border crossing points with reports of many families waiting days in freezing temperatures to reach neighbouring states. If the situation continues to worsen, the UN Refugee Agency has said it fears millions more people could end up seeking safety in other countries.
Already, Red Cross teams in neighbouring countries including Poland, Moldova, Slovakia and Romania, have been providing urgent support to these refugees. In Poland, where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have already sought safety, the Polish Red Cross has begun to establish temporary accommodation centres for new arrivals which can hold up to 400 people each. Similar responses have begun in Moldova, where in Chisinau, the Moldovan Red Cross has opened a shelter that can house up to 800 people, and in Slovakia, where the Slovak Red Cross has put up tents to house arrivals at the border crossing point in Ubla.
In addition to shelter, Red Cross teams are also providing food, hygiene items and warm clothing to those arriving. The Romanian Red Cross has deployed volunteers from branches along the border to distribute food, water, basic aid items and hygiene products to people in need. In Hungary, the Red Cross has 300 volunteers ready to help people crossing the border, many of whom have been preparing parcels containing bedding and hygiene items, and establishing information and first aid points.
Dr David Staples, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: “We are seeking to identify the most critical needs and we are pleased to be able to support and work with the British Red Cross in helping the growing number of refugees.
“Many Freemasons have contacted the MCF and UGLE to ask how they can offer further support in addition to this grant. We have therefore established a dedicated Ukraine Crisis fundraising appeal using the Relief Chest Scheme to allow Freemasons, their families and friends to donate.”
He added: “We strongly encourage Freemasons and others wishing to support Ukraine to donate via the official MCF Relief Chest online appeal page at mcf.org.uk/ukraine.”
Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the MCF, added: “In addition to this national appeal, Freemasons from Lodges across England, Wales and overseas have been sharing their own stories about volunteering, fundraising and donating at the local level. We are inspired by their efforts and proud to be able to join them in responding to this growing humanitarian crisis.”
To donate to the Relief Chest, point your smartphone’s camera at this QR code, and follow the instructions which appear on screen.