Caritas Ukraine appeals for prayers for peace
By Linda Bordoni
Intensified Russian airstrikes on Ukrainian cities throughout the nation are wreaking more death and destruction and displacing more people.
The delivery of humanitarian aid is hampered as people are ordered to stay in shelters and not create situations of vulnerability in which many people are gathered together at distribution points.
With headquarters in Kyiv and Lviv and representing a network of local Caritas offices, Caritas Ukraine President, Tetiana Stawnychy, told Vatican Radio that although the organization has had to re-strategize for the safety of staff and of those receiving aid, it is ever more committed to its mission to reach all those in need.
In these last days since the intensification of the conflict, she said, “people are taking shelter, the air raid sirens are lasting a long time, so we are continuing to work by distance as we are able.”
Caritas staff, Stawnychy added, are coping with cut-offs of all sorts: electricity, water, heat, internet connection.
All in all Ukraine Caritas continues to work, she explained, always abiding by the rules of the city or town it is serving, “respecting air sirens and avoiding gatherings of many people – keeping to what the local government says for the safety of everybody, for us and for the safety of our beneficiaries.”
Regarding the current situation, Stawnychy explained that Caritas Ukraine has a system of risk assessment that each center is trained to do and according to which the staff is able to assess what it can do.
“At the moment, with continued strikes, there will be work by distance and encouragement to take shelter when air sirens go off,” she said.
Basically, she continued, it is monitoring the situation “throughout the day, and day-to-day, and making adjustments as it sees fit.
We do a head count on staff when the air-raid siren is over completely to make sure where everybody is and that everybody is alright.
She described it as a kind of “renewal of what it was at the beginning of the war ‘when you call one another and you make sure everyone is ok.”
Seven months of war have had a high impact on the psychology and feelings of the population, at the moment, Stawnychy said it is “a feeling of waiting and seeing, monitoring and seeing how things go.”
“We are staying together, staying focussed on our mission together. We are a community and we have a mission, as a community, that we do,” she explained, noting that “both aspects are very important these days.
When asked whether she had an appeal, Stawnychy recalled the strength of prayer that was so comforting at the beginning of the war.
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