Caritas launches Ukraine fund drive, warning of a 'colossal humanitarian catastrophe'

Caritas Internationalis launched an emergency appeal to provide relief to Ukraine after Russia invaded the country on Thursday, Feb. 24. 

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

Caritas Internationalis called for full humanitarian aid to all those impacted, as well as freedom of movement for those looking to leave areas of conflict. 

The appeal, which will benefit Caritas Ukraine, will provide food, drinking water, safe accommodation, and hygiene kits to those who were impacted by the conflict. Additionally, the money raised will assist with safe transportation for those who are looking to reach their loved ones in safe areas. 

“The events which began early this morning will inevitably lead to a colossal humanitarian catastrophe,” Tetiana Stawnychy, the president of Caritas Ukraine, said in a statement announcing the appeal. 

“It is impossible to believe that in the 21st century in the center of Europe people have to wake up at 5 a.m. from explosions and the sound of air raid sirens,” she added. “We need your support to have a chance to respond to the humanitarian crisis and assist the people affected by war.” 

 Since 2014, Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 and displaced over 1.5 million people. On Thursday, Russia began a full-scale invasion and fired missiles into the country.

Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of more than 160 Catholic aid organizations who work at the grassroots level around the world, explained that the ongoing conflict, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, has made the situation on the ground especially delicate. According to Caritas Ukraine, nearly 3 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance even prior to Thursday’s attack. 

Since the summer, when the situation on the border between Ukraine and Russia appeared to be escalating, Caritas scaled up their operations in Ukraine. In addition to training staff and volunteers to assist with various humanitarian efforts, they also established temporary centers to assist people who were displaced by the conflict. 

Stawnychy said that the number of those in need is “increasing exponentially” with the conflict.

Donations to the appeal can be made on the Caritas Internationalis website

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