Indiana Sends top EDS Official to Help Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis
BUCHAREST, ROMANIA (March 25, 2022) – The Salvation Army Indiana Division has sent its top Emergency Disaster Services official to Eastern Europe as part of the organization’s large-scale response to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Major Mike McKee, the Emergency Disaster Services Director for the state, has more than three decades of experience responding to crisis across the globe. Earlier this week he traveled to Romania, where he is now working with the local Salvation Army team to address the needs of Ukrainian refugees fleeing to the country.
The Salvation Army has permanent facilities and services across Eastern Europe, which have played a key role in providing immediate aid to refugees. Led by The Salvation Army’s Eastern Territory, the response to the crisis in Ukraine has been widespread. The organization is currently aiding refugees fleeing to Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, and other countries across the continent.
Local responses include a variety of services, like large feeding stations, temporary housing, hygiene and health supplies, family reunification assistance, and spiritual and emotional care. Salvation Army facilities in southern Russia are also responding to great need in the country, where 60,000 displaced people are caught in the middle of the crisis.
“Our faith in God transcends borders,” Major McKee explained. “We service those in this humanitarian crisis with compassion and without discrimination or prejudice.”
In Ukraine, The Salvation Army has corps and social centers spread across the country, where the organization is still actively serving the besieged and suffering communities of Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipro, Noviy, Kropyvnytskyi, Vinnytsia, Lviv, and the capital, Kyiv. Salvation Army officers and staff are working around the clock to do all they can to help their fellow Ukrainians in this terrifying time. Though an estimated 3.5 million refugees have already fled the country, millions more are trapped and unable to get safe transit across the border.
In Romania, Major McKee is working with a team of seasoned Emergency Disaster Services professionals and volunteers to provide emergency aid to refugees pouring into the country each day. The EDS team in Bucharest, where he is currently stationed, is handing out food and medicine vouchers, as well as new clothing and hygiene items, to arriving refugees.
They are also providing vital information about the risks of human trafficking to ensure that this vulnerable population does not fall prey to the trafficking rings that plague the continent. The Salvation Army has been actively fighting against human trafficking in Europe for decades.
“Most of the people we’re serving are well dressed and obviously middle class, but they’re refugees now and have lost everything,” shared Major McKee in his first report from Bucharest. “So far, we’ve only seen women and children, except for one family who had the father with them. It’s so, so sad, although it's a real blessing to be able to do something to make their journey a little more bearable."
Major McKee’s past international deployments have included natural disasters, such as earthquakes in Haiti and Pakistan, tsunamis in Sri Lanka and India, famine and droughts in Sub-Saharan Africa, typhoons and hurricanes in the Philippines and Caribbean, floods in Mozambique, and an Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
The Salvation Army also responds to humanitarian crises that arise from geographic and political conflicts. Major McKee brings to Romania much experience gained from a long history of working with refugees and communities that have been torn apart by man-made events. He has served refugees of the civil war in northern Uganda and post-genocide refugees in Rwanda, worked in southern Iraq during the Second Gulf War to provide cooking gas and food to civilians, and assisted with Kosovo refugees in Albania.
Major McKee also served several deployments in New York City after 9-11 as a chaplain at Ground Zero and as The Salvation Army’s liaison with the city government.
Major McKee will continue to send updates to The Salvation Army Indiana Division, providing a direct line to this evolving humanitarian crisis. As more Ukrainians have flee their country, the need continues to grow for humanitarian aid from governments, private industry, and nonprofits like The Salvation Army.
Americans looking to support The Salvation Army’s efforts in Eastern Europe are encouraged to give through a special donation portal that has been set up by the organization’s World Services Office. This ensures that funds can quickly be funneled to operations on the ground.
Visit https://salarmy.us/ukrainecrisis to support this global fundraising effort. Supporters can also text the keyword UKRAINE to 52000 along with the amount they would like to contribute.
Information about The Salvation Army’s work in Eastern Europe and response to the crisis in Ukraine can be found online:
The Salvation Army USA Ukraine Disaster and Response
The Salvation Army Eastern Europe Territory
The Salvation Army Europe Zone