The Prince of Wales has dedicated his Easter message to the millions of refugees who are “wounded by the past, fearful of the future”.
Prince Charles’ words come as thousands of Ukrainians continue to seek sanctuary from fighting in their homeland, following in the footsteps of millions of refugees who have already fled the Russian invasion.
He said meeting the “innocent victims of conflict” over the years, he had found it “profoundly moving” to see the numbers of people ready to invite those in need into their homes.
It comes after more than 200,000 people in the UK registered an interest in opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees under the government’s Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme.
Charles also said it was an “enormous privilege” to perform the ancient ceremony of distributing Maundy money to community stalwarts at Thursday’s Royal Maundy service, on behalf of the Queen who was unable to attend.
The prince remembered the role that his late father, the Duke of Edinburgh, played during the many Maundy services he attended, when he would “read the Gospel, which tells how on the night of the Last Supper, Jesus knelt before his disciples and washed their travel-weary feet”.
Charles said in his message: “Today, millions of people find themselves displaced, worn by their journey from troubled places, wounded by the past, fearful of the future – and in need of a welcome, of rest and of kindness.
“Over the past years, I have found myself heartbroken at the sufferings of the innocent victims of conflict, or persecution, some of whom I have met and who have told me stories of unutterable tragedy as they have been forced to flee their country and seek shelter far from home.
“But amidst all this sadness and inhumanity, it has been profoundly moving to see how so many people are ready to open their homes to those in need, and how they have offered their time and their resources to help those facing such soul-destroying sorrow. and hardship.”
According to the Home Office, a total of 94,700 Ukraine Scheme visa applications have been received as of 13 April, including 39,100 through the Family Scheme and 55,600 through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
However, while 31,400 family visas have been issued, just 25,100 sponsorship visas have been issued.
Earlier this month, home secretary Priti Patel apologized for the low number of Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK, adding that it “takes time to start up a new route”.
Charles and wife Camilla showed their solidarity with Ukraine by lighting a candle for the nation and sympathizing with its London community in March, during a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in central London.
The future king concluded his message by saying: “This Easter, as always, we are reminded of Our Lord’s timeless example of goodness in the face of suffering, of courage in the face of fear, of faith in the face of despair. His light triumphed in that dark time.
“I pray with all my heart that his inspiring example might help us all dispel the darkness of the world.”
Additional reporting by PA