Christian missionaries in Ukraine have said that churches are crying and praying for an end to the violence, following the Malaysian Airlines disaster last week that killed all 298 people on board. Meanwhile, Dutch families are showing anger over what they say is improper treatment of the bodies of their loved ones at the crash site.
"We are weeping," mission group Christian Aid Mission quoted a local Christian as saying, according to BosNewsLife on Monday. CAM added that there is "disbelief and sadness over the loss of 298 innocent lives when a commercial airliner was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine Thursday."
The international community is still searching for concrete answers after Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was hit by a missile and went down in Eastern Ukraine on Thursday.
The Ukraine government, the U.S. and much of Europe has blamed Russia for supplying weapons to the pro-Russian separatists who are suspected to have shot down the plane, and who are currently in control of the crash site between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in Donetsk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the accusation, and said in a statement on Monday: "We have called repeatedly on all parties to the conflict to stop the bloodshed immediately and begin negotiations. I believe that if military operations had not resumed in eastern Ukraine on June 28, this tragedy probably could have been avoided."
The rebels have allowed an international team of investigators access to the site, but Dutch families who lost loved ones on the plane said that recovery efforts are taking too long, The Associated Press reported.
"No words can describe it," said Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers died on their way to a vacation in Bali. "Bodies are just lying there for three days in the hot sun. There are people who have this on their conscience. There are families who can never hold the body of a child or a mother."
The latest manifest figures have shown that there were 193 Dutch citizens on board the fatal Boeing 777.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has called on the bodies to be brought back to their homelands as soon as possible.
"If the train finally gets going and the bodies get to Ukraine-controlled territory then we would prefer — and a Hercules is ready at Kharkiv airport — to get the bodies back to the Netherlands as soon as possible," Rutte said.
Right-wing lawmaker Louis Bontes added that Dutch forces need to be allowed access to the crash site.
"This messing around with our people can go on no longer," he said. "Our people must be brought home now."
The Dutch national prosecutor's office has also said that it has begun a criminal investigation into the case, but specific suspects have not yet been identified.
"We are looking into allegations of murder, war crimes and downing a civilian passenger plane," spokesman Wim de Bruin said.
The Ukraine government has been locked in a war with separatists in the eastern regions of the country for the past several months now. Rebels had used anti-aircraft artillery to take down a number of Ukraine jets in the week leading up to Malaysian Airlines Flight 17's crash.
CAM added that Ukraine churches are praying for much-needed peace.
"We need peace in Ukraine. We are a peaceful people. The church leaders I talked to are in tears over what happened to the plane. People from Europe, Asia, Australia, and America have died. This is crazy," the representative said.
"As the conflict rages, Ukrainian churches have stepped up efforts to minister to the hurting and to boldly share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ."