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Russian drones destroy Caritas warehouse in Ukraine

One person died in the attack in the western city of Lviv

A Russian aerial attack on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv has killed one and destroyed a warehouse belonging to Caritas-Spes, the Roman Catholic mission of Caritas in Ukraine.

Russian forces launched a wave of Shahed drones over Ukraine during the overnight hours of Sept. 18-19. The Lviv Regional State Administration said on its Telegram channel that while seven exploding drones were shot down, three hit industrial warehouses in Lviv, killing a 32-year-old man and injuring two more, ages 26 and 68.

Firefighters worked at the site of an industrial warehouse destroyed by a Russian drone strike in Lviv, Ukraine, Sept. 19.
Photo Credits: Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Lviv region handout via Reuters
On its Facebook page, Caritas-Spes Ukraine said that none of its staff were hurt, but its “warehouse with everything inside burned to the ground.”

Tetiana Stawnychy, president of Caritas Ukraine, said that the warehouse “belonged to a businessman who was donating space” to Caritas-Spes.

She said the person killed in the attack was a security guard for the building.

Alistair Dutton, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis — a global federation of Catholic aid organizations — said in a Sept. 19 statement the attack was “an outrage and a flagrant violation of International Humanitarian Law.”

Among the items destroyed were “33 pallets of food kits, 10 pallets of hygiene kits and cans, 10 pallets with generators and clothing,” said the agency on its Facebook page.

Caritas-Spes also said “about 300 tons of humanitarian trucks burned in the warehouse,” but that “vehicles with humanitarian cargo” were able to be rescued from the attack.

“This is not the first time when (the) Russian Federation has attacked humanitarian warehouses in Ukraine,” said the agency on its Facebook page.

Noting that “it is difficult to count all the attacks on humanitarian warehouses due to the confidentiality of information,” Caritas-Spes said that “according to media reports, in May this year, the warehouses of two humanitarian organizations in Odesa and Ternopil were destroyed.”

In remarks posted to the website of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine, Father Vyacheslav Hrynevych, executive director of Caritas-Spes, said the attack “once again confirmed the real intentions of Russia,” since there were no militarily strategic objects near the warehouse.

The attack will delay the distribution of badly needed aid, he said.

Since the start of 2023, Caritas-Spes has provided assistance to more than 280,000 people in 23 regions and 15,000 settlements, the agency said in a post on the website of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine.

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion — launched in February 2022 and continuing attacks initiated in 2014 — 1,048,546 people have received help from Caritas-Spes, according to the agency.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has been declared a genocide in two joint reports issued May 2022 and July 2023 by New Lines Institute and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

Currently, there are an estimated 5.1 million individuals internally displaced within Ukraine, according to the International Organization for Migration, part of the United Nations network. More than 6.2 million Ukrainians have sought safety abroad since the start of the full-scale invasion.

At least 2.5 million Ukrainians are believed to have been forcibly taken to the Russian Federation, with close to 19,600 children being held in Russian “re-education” camps, with the actual number for the latter feared to be much higher.

Russia’s war has resulted in profound environmental damage to Ukraine due to air, soil and water contamination from munitions and from the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to the U.S. to address the United Nations General Assembly Sept. 19 and the U.N. Security Council Sept. 20 in New York. He began his U.S. trip Sept. 18 by visiting wounded soldiers at nearby Staten Island University Hospital. On Sept. 21, Zelenskyy was scheduled to meet in Washington with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House and with congressional members on Capitol Hill.

After meeting in Beijing, pope’s envoy will return to Moscow

By Justin McLellan | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — After meeting with a Chinese official in Beijing to discuss paths toward peace in Ukraine and ensuring grain exports from the country, Pope Francis’ special envoy is expected to return to Moscow, Russia’s foreign minister said.

“The efforts of the Vatican, whose envoy is going to visit once again, are continuing,” Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said during a roundtable discussion on the war in Ukraine Sept. 15 with diplomats representing more than 30 countries. “We are ready to meet with everyone, we are ready to talk to everyone,” he added.

The minister’s comments came as Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna, was in Beijing Sept. 13-15 for the latest leg of a peace mission that has also taken him to Kyiv, Moscow and Washington to meet with government and Church officials on Pope Francis’ behalf.

The Vatican said Sept. 14 that the cardinal’s meeting with Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, “was dedicated to the war in Ukraine and its dramatic consequences, underscoring the need to unite efforts to favor dialogue and find paths that may lead to peace.”

“The issue of food security was also addressed, with the hope that grain exports could soon be ensured, especially for the countries most at risk,” the Vatican statement said.

In July, Russia pulled out of a deal to allow Ukrainian grain shipments to pass through the Black Sea, threatening the food supply of developing countries that import grain from Ukraine. Days later, after praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis publicly called on Russian authorities to resume the deal and called the destruction of grain “a grave insult to God.”

Cardinal Zuppi had visited Moscow in June and met with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow; Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin foreign policy adviser and former Russian ambassador to the United States; and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, accused by the International Criminal Court of aiding the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. The cardinal had discussed the repatriation of Ukrainian children from Russia — an initiative welcomed by the Ukrainian government — during his meetings in Moscow as well as in his meeting with President Joe Biden in July.

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