Home International News Caritas shifts to long-term response plan to address prolonged conflict in Ukraine

Caritas shifts to long-term response plan to address prolonged conflict in Ukraine

A firefighter works at the site of a residential building in Selydove, in Ukraine's Donetsk region, that was destroyed in a Russian missile attack Feb. 14, 2024. (OSV News photo/National Police handout via Reuters)

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 with Vatican News published 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.”