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Nadezhda Prokopenko stood in front of a relative’s house Feb. 19 that was destroyed in an airstrike in Selydove, Ukraine.
Nadezhda Prokopenko stood in front of a relative’s house Feb. 19 that was destroyed in an airstrike in Selydove, Ukraine.
Photo Credit: Thomas Peter | Reuters

Caritas starts developing long-term aid program in Ukraine

Since February 2022, Caritas has provided humanitarian assistance to more than 3.8 million people

VATICAN CITY — After two years of supporting communities throughout Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country, the Vatican-based charity confederation Caritas Internationalis is shifting to a long-term response plan to address the humanitarian fallout from the prolonged conflict in Ukraine.

“According to experts, the war could last a decade. We need to be ready to provide long-term assistance to address the significant humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine, which ultimately affects the global community,” said Father Vyacheslav Grynevych, executive director of Caritas-Spes Ukraine, in a statement released by Caritas Internationalis Feb. 23.

Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Since then two Caritas organizations, Caritas Ukraine — an international foundation that coordinates the charitable activity of the local Ukrainian Catholic churches — and Caritas-Spes Ukraine — the charitable mission of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine — have provided humanitarian assistance to more than 3.8 million people.

The assistance has included both food and non-food items, shelter, health and hygiene items, cash assistance, health and psychosocial support services, protection and education programs, Caritas Internationalis said in its statement.

It said that the confederation of Caritas organizations, more than 160 worldwide, “are preparing a long-term response plan despite the difficulties and uncertainties caused by the protracted conflict.”

The statement noted that the escalating hostilities and fighting in the second year of the war in Ukraine have included military strikes on civilian infrastructure, such as the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in June, which led to devastating flooding in southern Ukraine. More than 6 million Ukrainians fled the country and some 40% of its population remains in need of humanitarian assistance, Caritas Internationalis said.

In an interview Feb. 22, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halych, said that the Ukrainian Catholic Church has developed a pastoral sense of “grief” to accompany the many Ukrainians who have experienced hardship and loss over the two years of widespread war.

“Perhaps Western culture today needs a ‘pastorality of pleasure,’ so to speak, a ‘pastorality of comfort,’ a pastorality of the consumer world,” he said. “But in the context of war, we are dealing with a completely different challenge: We experience the tragedy of the destruction of our country, of our cities, every day we see death with our eyes and unfortunately we still don’t have a clear idea of when this will end.”

The archbishop asked of Catholics: “Don’t forget Ukraine, don’t abandon us in our grief and in our pain.”

New fund will help heal Ukraine’s wounds of war

With Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine entering its third year, seven U.S. cardinals have become patrons of a new effort to heal the suffering of Ukraine’s people due to Russian aggression.

On Feb. 20, the Ukrainian Catholic bishops of the U.S. announced that their Metropolia Humanitarian Aid Fund has been restructured as the “Healing of Wounds of the War in Ukraine Fund.”

The fund is aimed at “healing physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds inflicted by the criminal Russian invasion,” said the four bishops — Metropolitan Archbishop Borys A. Gudziak of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia; Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of the Eparchy of Stamford, Connecticut; Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk of the Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago; and Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo of the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio — in a report accompanying the announcement.

In the report, the U.S. Ukrainian bishops said they were “especially … grateful to the seven Cardinals of the Catholic Church in the U.S. — Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, Cardinal Robert W. McElroy of San Diego, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, and Cardinal Joseph William Tobin of Newark — who have graciously agreed to serve as patrons” of the new fund.

The Metropolia fund, representing the four eparchies of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the U.S., was established in January 2022 as Russia’s troop buildup on Ukraine’s borders signaled an invasion.

All contributions to the fund — which totaled more than $7.5 million from some 6,400 donors, with $7.2 million so far distributed — were dedicated to humanitarian projects operated by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church or by trusted nonprofits partnering with the UGCC.

Donations were applied to five focus areas of support: internally displaced persons and refugees (now totaling 3.7 million and 6.5 million, respectively, according to the United Nation’s Displacement Tracking Matrix and the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees); medication and first aid; Church ministry; emergency food assistance; and supply chain and logistics.

The aid provided by the fund included over 13,000 hemostatic bandages and gauze, 11,000 tourniquets, 200 traumatic head injury kits, three anesthesia machines, and the creation of a fully stocked operating room, as well as more than 27,000 food kits and the feeding of more than 100,000 individuals.

Gina Christian, OSV News, contributed to this report.

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