News from Europe

Archbishop of Canterbury forced to shelter during Russian air-strike in Ukraine

The Archbishop of Canterbury was stuck in an air-raid shelter during a Russian missile attack in Kyiv on Wednesday morning.

Archbishop Welby was scheduled to spend five days in the country to meet Ukrainian church leaders from various denominations.

Whilst travelling on the train he said that the aim of his trip was “to show that we remember the people caught up in this horrible conflict, and that they are in our prayers and thoughts, as well as those who are in exile in the UK as refugees. Coming again to Kyiv, I’m reminded of the vast extent of suffering. I am on a train where almost all the Ukrainians are women, because the men are involved in the fighting; and of the suffering, as I look out at the snowy landscape and think of people in trenches on both sides. I want to pray with and for them, learn from them, and to say loud and clear that, amid all that is going on in other places, the world will not forget Ukraine. It is now almost two full years since that dreadful day of the full-scale Russian invasion — an act of great evil — and we know that the need for support is going to be very long term. It was profoundly moving and humbling to meet people here in late-2022, to see first-hand the heroism of people who have been through hell. It has stayed with me, and I felt a deep call to return.”

The Russian missile attack that struck Kyiv killed four people and left dozens injured. The Church of England delegation received alerts via an app signalling incoming air strikes. They managed to find shelter in a converted underground car park in their hotel. The Archbishop himself faced the harsh realities that Ukrainian people had to endure. He realised that many of the locals did not have access to safe shelters, leaving them vulnerable to the attacks. 

After the air-strike, the Archbishop continued with his schedule, including a meeting with Chris Palusky, the Ukraine multi-country response director of the Christian aid agency World Vision. Archbishop Welby said: “It is heart-breaking to hear of the loss of life in Kyiv this morning in this appalling attack by Russia. I am praying for all those affected and their families. Stand with Ukraine, pray for them, learn from them and say loud and clear that, amid all that is going on in other places, the world will not forget Ukraine.”



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