A school on the outskirts of Kyiv becomes a shelter A school on the outskirts of Kyiv becomes a shelter  (ANSA)

Caritas warns Ukraine heading for a humanitarian catastrophe

Caritas Internationalis issues a dire warning on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and appeals for ensuring humanitarian protection and access to people needing assistance.

By Vatican News staff reporter

The global confederation of Catholic charities, Caritas Interationalis based in Rome, has sounded the alarm on the potential humanitarian catastrophe that could quickly develop in Ukraine due to the violence and difficulties in assuring access to the population affected by the crisis.

Caritas issued a statement as the invasion started, underscoring that the local population has already endured eight years of strife with the conflict in the east of the country that has claimed 14,000 lives and displaced 1.5 million people. 

Renewed appeal for aid

The Caritas Confederation has therefore launched an emergency appeal to support the work of its local member, Caritas Ukraine.

The programme aims to support conflict-affected people with food, drinking water, safe accommodation and hygiene kits. They also are working to ensure safe transportation for vulnerable people to reach their loved ones and safe areas.

The President of Caritas Ukraine, Tetiana Stawnychy, has appealed for “support to have a chance to respond to the humanitarian crisis and assist the people affected by war," expressing her deep worry that the current crisis "will inevitably lead to a colossal humanitarian catastrophe."

Tragic implications of war

Since the late summer last year, Caritas has implemented plans for a wider humanitarian response due to concerns at the time over a possible escalation of the conflict, especially in eastern Ukraine.

Caritas-trained staff and volunteers have sought to increase capacity to meet the needs of local communities and set up centres to welcome and assist internally-displaced people.

Stawnychy pointed out that the number of people in need has shot up recently.

“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.”

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Aloysius John said, “We cannot ignore the tragic humanitarian implications of this war...It is the duty of the international community to protect the Ukrainian people and ensure their access to life-saving assistance.”

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27 February 2022, 15:10