• Photos: C4I Ukraine
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A turbulent time in Ukraine

Koen Carlier - 25 October 2022

Since early October, we have entered a new phase of war in Ukraine. All over the country, large and smaller cities are being bombed with countless missiles and kamikaze drones. These missiles are landing everywhere: in residential areas, on the infrastructure etc.

We have seen footage of destroyed apartments in Kiev, Zaporizhzhya, Dnepr and many other major cities. Even in the Vinnitsa province, many kamikaze drones and missiles have badly damaged infrastructure. In time, this could start causing problems for electricity, water supply and heating. And winter is approaching….

At the same time, our team has been on high alert again since the start of the rocket attacks. By now, we have already evacuated hundreds of Jews, mainly from Zaporizhzhya, Dnepr and the surrounding area. Some of the Jewish refugees we took directly to Moldova, to be repatriated to Israel from there. Others we first brought to a shelter in western Ukraine.

The stories and testimonies we hear from the people are heartbreaking. Most of the people we meet during the bus rides are Jewish elderly, mothers and children. In fact, men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave the country because they can be drafted into the army. Very rarely, we also bring men in that age group to the border, for example, when they have been disqualified from military service In that case, if they have the correct documents, they are allowed to leave the country.

Zaporizhzhia in particular has had to endure many rocket attacks this month. The missiles landed on civilian targets, both inside and outside the city centre. There were many casualties and the city’s residents had to spend weeks like animals underground in shelters in harsh conditions. People told us it was cold and humid and there was no food. For these people, it was an incredibly tough and fearful time.

When the Jewish community from Zaporizhzhia heard about the possibility of evacuation, many people seized the opportunity. They had to make the decision to leave everything behind quickly and then joined the evacuation buses. Once in a safer place, each person has to decide where to go.

On the bus, we met Holocaust survivor Ludmila. She had fled from Donetsk to Zaporizhzhia in 2014. For five years, she lived with her son, daughter and disabled grandchild in the city’s Jewish school. Just when she had her life somewhat back on track, Zaporizhzhia was heavily bombed. Being an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, she had to flee again and we evacuated her. The family now faces a choice: stay in Ukraine or go to Israel.

We hear many stories from people about what they experienced. We first take the people to Vinnitsa province to spend the night so they can settle down. They receive a good meal, for which the people are incredibly grateful. A hot meal does miracles! The next day they travel on. They go to Kishenov (Moldova), or go to another shelter in the Carpathian Mountains (in Western Ukraine).

Over the past few weeks we have evacuated hundreds of Jewish families, with our large and smaller buses. We are well aware that anything can happen along the way. Our vehicles could break down, we could have an accident, or rockets could hit close to the buses.

This week, for instance, three ambulances were badly damaged by rocket impacts.

Fortunately, we may know that our work is supported by prayer and we feel shalom, the peace of God.

Flee from the land of the north!
We now receive requests from more towns to evacuate Jewish people. I expect that in the coming weeks we will be busy bringing larger groups to safety. I don’t know what the future holds, but the Lord speaks clearly in Zechariah 2: “Flee from the land of the north and save yourselves to Zion.”

We hope that the tens of thousands of Jews still living in Ukraine will also take this call to heart and make the choice to come home to Israel. Until then, we will continue our life-saving work. It is not always easy, but since the beginning of the war, our team has said, “We want to be here right now, in times of need, in difficult situations. We want to pave the way in order that the Jewish people can return home.” We will continue this, as long as we can, despite the questions we have about the future, despite the threat of war and despite the approaching winter.

Will you please pray for the Jewish community and for our team in Ukraine?


It costs €135 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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