Lviv Mayor highlights efforts to provide assistance for fleeing Ukrainians
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
More than 2.8 million people have now fled Ukraine for neighbouring countries since the start the Russian invasion in late February, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), as the war stretches into its twentieth day.
Many of the refugees who make it to Ukraine’s seven neighbouring countries, continue onward to other states, particularly in western Europe, but many are also choosing to stay for longer in the neighbouring states, with a majority being hosted by Poland. Many others are internally displaced, moving to locations that have been spared the destruction that has trailed the fighting.
Since the start of the war, the city of Lviv, Ukraine’s seventh-largest, has remained relatively safe compared to other cities such as Kharkiv and Mariupol, which have seen weeks of bombardment and intense fighting. Lviv, in the west, has also become a destination for residents fleeing for their lives from their besieged cities.
Speaking to Vatican News, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi of Lviv explains that it is his duty to provide support and assistance to the thousands of Ukrainians making their way through this western Ukrainian city, which has become a key stop in the country’s refugee exodus.
Thousands received in Lviv
Normally, the population of Lviv is approximately 1 million people, Mayor Sadovyi explains. However, since the start of the war, the city has had to host an additional 200,000 more, with numbers growing every day as crowds make their way through.
Assistance is provided by authorities, as well as aid agencies and religious organizations, which are doing their best to provide emergency support for the weary refugees, many of whom have had to travel long hours in the biting cold weather.
At present, the mayor notes that the major needs are food items, medical supplies and money.
Sadovyi says that the city spends about US$1 million every day to provide for the needs of the Ukrainian refugees. In addition, authorities are working hard to ensure the normal functioning of utilities and other amenities including transport.
In spite of the massive devastation and destruction of infrastructure caused by the war, Mayor Sadovyi reaffirms his confidence in his country's eventual victory, expressing hope that after the war, it will be time to coordinate activities to “build a new Ukraine.”
He calls on the global community to lend its support to the besieged nation of Ukraine during this difficult time of war.