Caritas responding to need for humanitarian aid in Ukraine

With queues at the border to Poland up to 15km long the Catholic Church is stepping up to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

Among those providing support is the Catholic charity Caritas Australia, who is working directly with Caritas Ukraine and its local partner Caritas Spes.

Funds to support the charity’s work in Ukraine have started to arrive.

So far the Australian Government has provided an initial $35 million commitment – support Caritas is welcoming with gratitude.

“This humanitarian aid is desperately needed in Ukraine right now,” said Kirsty Robertson, Caritas Australia’s CEO.

“Over half a million people have already been forced to flee their homes.”

Robertson says refugee numbers could “balloon into three or even five million in the coming weeks as more villages, towns and cities are victims of air raids and attacks.”

Caritas Spes and Caritas Australia, together, offer support to Ukrainian families who have fled their homes, providing emergency supplies including food, hygiene kits, clean water and psychological help. Emergency shelter is provided to displaced families.

Among those helping relieve suffering is the executive director of Caritas-Spes, Catholic priest Father Vyacheslav Grynevych.

He is coordinating humanitarian efforts from a basement bomb shelter, where he has taken in 36 people, mostly children and their pets.

Despite the conditions in Ukraine, Grynevych says Caritas-Spes is continuing to prepare projects and coordinate activities.

In an online press conference via Zoom last Tuesday, Grynevych said:

“As a priest, I have my reflection about the situation … because, you know, war makes both adults and children cry … We learned it when hiding in basements during the airstrikes.

“Aside from material losses that can be revealed over time, the pain and fear that people will experience will take very long to recover.”

Grynevych says Caritas-Spes is also supporting people who have gathered at Ukraine’s western border, providing temporary housing in shelters.

The charity has the capacity to help shelter 400 children and as of last Tuesday had already accepted half that number.

“We are equipped with shelters in five cities, one of which is in a children’s hospital for pregnant women, women who just delivered, and children,” he said during the Zoom meeting.

“This humanitarian need will likely increase over the coming weeks and months,” Caritas Australia’s Robertson says.


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