• Koen Carlier distributes food parcels in Zaporizhzhia thanks to your support. | Photo: C4I
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Helping in all Circumstances – Koen Carlier about the situation in Ukraine

editor - 4 September 2023

Ever since the first nerve-racking weeks following the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February 2022, hopes for peace remain unfulfilled. The war forced thousands to flee the country, seeking safety. Our team continued to do their important work and was sustained by your prayers. The situation has not improved in recent times. People have been displaced, prices are rising, and unemployment is enormous. In these conditions, the work of our C4I team continues. Koen Carlier shares about the situation.

…you pick people up from apartments that have been destroyed. This really affects you as a person.

“Perhaps you could say that our work has not changed much after more than sixteen months of war. We continue to do what we always did: help people in need, provide them with food, and assist with transportation to the airport when people want to immigrate to Israel. Except now people don’t leave from Ukraine but from Moldova. The most important thing we offer to people is hope. Hope for the future. The fact that we are able to help, comfort and listen is invaluable.”

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Why do people leave Ukraine?

“Because of the war, there are no signs of improvement, and the end of the war is not yet in sight. Apartments are damaged, and will not be repaired for the time being, so this also doesn’t give people any hope. And relatives from Israel tell them: ‘Come to Israel’. For thousands of Jews, the war has accelerated their plans to go to Israel. Every week we drive to Kishenov, Moldova, two or three times to bring people to the Israeli consul for an interview, and shortly thereafter, they can depart for Israel. As a result of the mobilisation law, however, men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave. Therefore, many families wait and stay in Ukraine. When the mobilisation ends, we expect that at least a few thousand people will want to leave for Israel when they are able to leave as a family.”

Koen, at the beginning of the war, you said, “Your prayer is the fuel that allows us to do this work.” How do you feel about this today?

“This was relevant back then, and it’s still true today. In times of need, you help those in need. We must not forget that this need was already there before the war. In 2014, Crimea was occupied, and the conflict started in the east of the country, in Lugansk and Donetsk. Then came Covid19, and now worse: a war in which the whole country is involved.

We ask for God’s protection and security. Of course, that is no guarantee. So we should not be careless about it. The Lord says: ‘I will call the nations to bring My people home’. It does not say: ‘I will call the nations when it is safe, when it is quiet when it is summertime.’ In other words, it says: under all circumstances. We have always been spared, and we see it as grace, as His protection. Because basically, anything can happen.”

Surely you must encounter a lot of suffering when you meetand pick up people.

“You hear about what is happening on the news. And at the same time, you pick people up from apartments that
have been destroyed. This really affects you as a person. You listen; you hear what happened. The stories about families, about sons who are no longer there, the misery. But being there, helping, being able to comfort and encourage, that really makes a difference. We say to the people: we don’t understand everything either, but we know that the Almighty brings you home. This is true hope.”

Do you read the Bible differently than before the war?

“‘Most certainly! When I think of Zechariah 2, flee from the land of the north and save yourself to Zion. This is a warning to flee, but at the same time, there is a plan B after people flee: go to Zion. This is actually what I have been experiencing since 2014 when the conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out. The war forced many people to flee to Israel. Gradually, the borders closed more since 2014.”

Could the situation get worse than it is now?

“Yes, you have to expect that to happen. Russia can’t really go back; they started this. And if Ukraine would recapture territory, we have no idea how Russia will react. So we live from day to day.”

So what does that mean for the work you and the team do?

“Before the war, we were well prepared. And we still are. We have food supplies; we have fuel storage; we have a warehouse, a generator, shelters and enough minibuses. If something happens and there is a new flood of Jewish refugees, we can help them.”

Will you help?

It costs €135 / US $150  to help a Jewish refugee from Ukraine make aliyah. Will you help? Any amount is welcome. Thank you in advance for your support!

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