Refugees from Ukraine at the Polish border Medyka in Polonia. Refugees from Ukraine at the Polish border Medyka in Polonia.  (ANSA)

Ukraine: Major Archbishop Shevchuk appeals for humanitarian corridors

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, complains that residents of cities besieged by Russian troops have been offered neither food nor a passage to safety.

By Robin Gomes

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) on Saturday appealed to the international community to help create humanitarian corridors, so innocent civilians can move to safer places and that humanitarian aid can reach those bearing the brunt of Russia’s “horrific and bloody war”.   

“The enemy is blocking and besieging large cities and is not giving the residents an opportunity to leave the city, does not give an opportunity to deliver food, and from above fly enemy bombs that sow death,” lamented Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, who heads the world’s largest Eastern-rite Catholic Church. 

Trapped civilians

United Nations sources said on Saturday at least 351 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and another 707 wounded.

A humanitarian corridor is a type of temporary demilitarized zone intended to provide safe passage for victims of conflict and for humanitarian agencies to reach those hit by the crisis.  

“I would like to particularly address the international community. Let us not remain silent. Let us do everything possible so that at least humanitarian convoys might make their way to those cities that are in the paws of the unfortunate enemy,” the Major Archbishop wrote in an appeal.

“When the enemy bombs cities,” he said, “many buildings turn very quickly into cold traps without heat, without light, without water. We must help them in some way, but the enemy does not let our help make its way to those in need.”

He drew attention to the situation in cities and towns in the north, east, and south of Ukraine where they are facing the onslaught of the Russian invasion, that began on the night of February 24.

He said that last night Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city faced air raids and shelling amid a 20 cm of snowfall. He also drew attention to the desperate situation in Sumy, Mariupol, and Volnovakha.

Call for humanitarian corridors and end to war

“May humanitarian corridors be created!” Major Archbishop Shevchuk appealed. “May there be green corridors of life so that the peaceful population might pass to safe places and humanitarian convoys might bring those people food, warmth, and human solidarity.”

He pointed out that while Ukrainians were defending their land, they were also praying and serving others.

The Major Archbishop particularly thanked thank volunteers and various community organizations for reaching out to those in need.  Each of the parishes in the centre, east and south of the country, he said, is turning into “a centre of social service for our volunteers.”

Once more, appealing to the international community he said, “Let us do everything possible to stop this war!”

05 March 2022, 16:36