Hundreds of thousands! Their suffering, the pain of parting from their husbands and homes is written all over their faces. It is still far too cold outside. And some of them have been walking for hours and days to finally reach the saving border.
Now they stand on supposedly safe territory, reach for their mobile phones, and a few moments later, in tears, tell their family members who have stayed behind that they have managed to cross the border into the foreign country.
But the border to where? To Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Germany? All these are just names on the European map. The vast majority of them have neither acquaintances nor relatives here. All they have is a small suitcase with a few belongings and crying children by the hand or in their arms.
Once again, it is women and mothers who are worst affected by war and displacement. Everywhere in the world where men in power have their grand ambitions tested, this picture is repeated - women bear the greatest burden of war. They seek to protect their children, take all the trouble to escape the turmoil of war. Even at the risk of more suffering in the fear-inducing foreign land.
After all, it is men again who lust to seize their bodies, sexually exploit and enslave them. Now, in the Ukraine war, perverts are again loitering at the borders, loading the long-suffering women and children into their cars to supposedly transport them to safe regions. But then hell soon follows. Often enough they are brutally abused and forced to be at the disposal of other perverted clients. And the children? They too are prone to be offered for sale. One can hardly imagine the overwhelming pain of such a mother: She has just lost her house and farm or even her home, just said goodbye to her husband and family, and already the death noose is tightening around her neck!
Women are constantly in danger of their lives due to wars and flight. And it is our duty as Christians to put an end to this madness. We should do everything to accompany them on their escape routes, to pick them up safely at the borders and to offer them shelter once they have decided to stay.
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is working to assist them in this situation. The Peace and Reconciliation Network is setting up welcome centres and so-called shelters in Ukraine and at the borders of the EU. Here the women are received, given pastoral and social care and then safely escorted to their next destination. The Global Anti-Trafficking Network also prepares them to avoid unscrupulous, vile traffickers and teaches them to recognise them right away.
You can read the relief on the women's faces when, after days on the run, they have finally arrived in the safe space of a Christian family here in the West. As in the case of Ina from Kiev who, after almost a week on the run, finally attended a church service here in Germany. She and her son have made it. Of course, thousands of questions still need to be clarified for her, but she has sought and found the way to her spiritual family. Brothers and sisters in the faith have helped her again and again. So, despite bombs and hail of bullets, despite human traffickers lurking at the border, she has arrived in her new home. We pray that the Lord will continue to bless her with brothers and sisters who will support her as she makes her walk through the German offices, learns the language and finds work, and that one day she will be reunited with her Ukrainian family.
If you too want to help women like Ina, join us in the Network for Peace and Reconciliation: help us bring the refugees from war and fear safely to your area, and welcome them warmly into your community. The Ukrainian women and children are absolutely worth it!
Dr. Johannes Reimer is Head of the Department of Public Engagement of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and Global Director of the Network for Peace and Reconciliation based in Augsburg, Germany.