“The events which began early this morning will inevitably lead to a colossal humanitarian catastrophe. It is impossible to believe that in the 21st century in the centre of Europe people have to wake up at 5 am from explosions and the sound of air raid sirens.” With these words Tetiana Stawnychy, President of Caritas Ukraine, reacted to the full-scale attack launched in the early hours of today in the country.
Caritas is deeply concerned about the impact of this intervention on the local population, who have already been living in a critical condition eight years after the start of the crisis that killed 14,000 people and displaced another 1.5 million.
The Caritas Confederation is launching an emergency appeal to support the work of Caritas Ukraine. The programme aims to support conflict-affected people with food, drinking water, safe accommodation and hygiene kits, as well as to ensure safe transportation for vulnerable people to reach their loved ones and safe areas. “We need your support to have a chance to respond to the humanitarian crisis and assist the people affected by war,” says Tetiana Stawnychy.
Already since late summer 2021, particularly in eastern Ukraine, Caritas anticipated humanitarian response for the possible escalation of the conflict. Caritas trained staff and volunteers so as to increase their capacity to meet the needs of the local communities and strengthen their network. They also prepositioned temporarily centres to welcome and ensure assistance to internally displaced people, whose number will most likely increase considerably with the start of this recent military intervention.
The numbers of the emergency needs were already dramatic: “Before the attack, there were already 2.9 million local people on both sides of the contact line who were in need of humanitarian assistance. Today, that number is increasing exponentially”, adds Stawnychy.
Caritas Ukraine is supported by 36 organisations of the Caritas Confederation in assisting the population in need. “We cannot ignore the tragic humanitarian implications of this war,” says Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Aloysius John. “It is the duty of the international community to protect the Ukrainian people and ensure their access to life-saving assistance”.
Caritas Internationalis insists that all people be able to access humanitarian assistance, particularly the most vulnerable, and that freedom of movement is guaranteed for those fleeing the conflict. “We are all urged to act. What is occurring in Ukraine is endangering international stability and peace and, as the Holy Father stressed, is ‘bringing international law into disrepute’.”