Mr. Andriy Sadovyi, Mayor of Lviv, Ukraine Mr. Andriy Sadovyi, Mayor of Lviv, Ukraine 

Mayor of Lviv: We are 'Unbroken'

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv reaffirms the resilience of Ukrainians amid the difficult times caused by the war, and puts the spotlight on the “Unbroken” initiative aimed at providing medical care for wounded victims.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine, has wreaked massive destruction and devastation, forcing millions of people to leave their homes in search of safety and protection.

In the early days of the war which began in February, massive crowds of Ukrainians made their way towards the west of the country as they fled the horrors of war. For many, the city of Lviv was the main transit point on the way as they hoped to cross Ukraine’s border into Poland, or other destinations.

Lviv, city of refuge for many

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi of Lviv, who spoke to Vatican News on Wednesday, estimates that about 5 million displaced people passed through his city since the start of the war, including about 11,000 wounded.

Listen to our interview with Mayor Andriy Sadovyi

“Our hospitals were filled to maximum with the wounded,” … there is need for “surgeries, temporary prosthetics, permanent prosthetic, psychological, physical, social rehabilitation,” he said, painting a grim picture of the victims of the war.

“21 years ago, we hosted Pope John Paul, but today Lviv hosts a lot of IDPs,” he remarked, pointing at the 6000 shelters that the city has provided for the many people in need.

Meanwhile, new and concerning perspectives are emerging as Russian forces are reportedly targeting power infrastructure in Ukraine. This deepens the energy crisis in the West, and further exposes Ukranians to hardship at a time when the cold winter season is getting harsher.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi of Lviv displaying a cross containing fragment of a rocket extracted from a wounded person
Mayor Andriy Sadovyi of Lviv displaying a cross containing fragment of a rocket extracted from a wounded person

Lviv too, has not been spared from the attacks on infrastructure. In fact, three weeks ago, Russian missiles destroyed some power plants. However, explained the Mayor, “we very quickly rebuilt the situation, and today we have water and electricity.”

“This was a very tough time but we demonstrated maximum resilience,” he added.

Pope Francis, the Church and Ukraine

Pope Francis has continuously appealed for an end to the war in “martyred” Ukraine, and in repeated gestures of solidarity to the country, has sent aid through the Papal office of charities, to bolster humanitarian efforts.

Likewise, the Church has been a visible presence during these difficult times in Ukraine. Caritas, alongside other charity organizations and NGOs have constantly been working to respond to the needs of the mass exodus of people who have had their lives radically disrupted due to the war.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi of Lviv displays a wooden cross containing fragments extracted from a wounded person

Mayor Sadovyi, who had the opportunity of meeting with the Holy Father after the General Audience on Wednesday, welcomed the Pope’s closeness to Ukraine and reiterated the desire of every Ukrainian for peace.

He said that he gifted the Holy Father a “wounded” wooden cross which contains a fragment of Russian rockets that was extracted from the body of a wounded 20-year-old woman. He hoped that the story surrounding the cross will continually serve as a reminder of Ukraine for the Holy Father.


The war in Ukraine, in addition to leaving behind horrific scenes of destruction to property and infrastructure, has also had a huge human casualty toll. Thousands have lost their lives on both sides and the many wounded continue to put a heavy strain on already groaning medical systems.

This situation has led to the creation of “Unbroken” – an initiative by the city of Lviv, which since February, through the First Medical Association of Lviv alone, has provided medical help to more than 5000 Ukrainians affected by the hostilities.

Mayor Sadovyi explains aspects of the "Unbroken" initiative
Mayor Sadovyi explains aspects of the "Unbroken" initiative

Every week, the wounded are transported to the Unbroken National Rehabilitation Center where they can receive comprehensive medical care, including reconstructive surgery, orthopaedics, robotic prosthetics and different kinds of rehabilitation.

The Mayor of Lviv appeals for support for the Ukrainian people, for the wounded and the IDPS, urging everyone to do something to help in building this “Unbroken” city ecosystem.

Hope amid devastation

Mayor Sadovyi holds on to hope in spite of the trying times faced by his country.

“I believe in God. I believe in my citizens. I believe in the Ukrainian army and together we will have victory,” he says, expressing confidence that the country will have a “good future.”

As a further sign of hope, he disclosed that the city of Lviv, in November, won the “European Youth Capital 2025” title – a “very special moment for the city” - according to the Mayor.

“Lviv is the capital of culture of Ukraine. Kyiv is the heart of Ukraine, but Lviv is the salt of Ukraine,” Mayor Sadovyi affirmed with a proud smile on his face.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi of Lviv and entourage meets Pope Francis during General Audience
Mayor Andriy Sadovyi of Lviv and entourage meets Pope Francis during General Audience

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07 December 2022, 17:01