Caritas Internationalis Urges End to Hostilities in Ukraine

One Month After Start of Conflict

Anna Urbańska Is A Volunteer For Caritas Poland At The Border Crossing In Dorohusk © Caritas

Exactly one month after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Caritas Internationalis urges for an end to the hostilities and to guarantee unhindered humanitarian assistance. “Political interests cannot continue to prevail at the expense of an entire people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. We join the Holy Father’s repeated appeals for the “abhorrent” war in Ukraine to end immediately and for an end to the suffering of the population through a peaceful solution,” says Aloysius John, Caritas Internationalis secretary-general. The Confederation of 162 national Caritas organizations worldwide also stresses the importance of taking into account the dramatic impact of the conflict in Ukraine in countries where crises have been going on for months and years and are now sadly forgotten.

The toll of the first month of the war in Ukraine is at least 2,421 civilian victims, 3,389,044 refugees – including at least 1.5 million children – and nearly 6.5 million internally displaced persons.

“The two Ukrainian Caritas organizations – Caritas Ukraine and Caritas Spes-Ukraine – had stood by the people from the very first moments and have never abandoned them even when, as in the case of Mariupol, heavy bombing forced the closure of some local centers.”

So far, Caritas has provided humanitarian assistance to several hundred thousand people only in Ukraine, with more than 23,500 meals and 5,100 personal hygiene kits distributed every day. All Caritas organizations in neighboring countries – including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Moldova – are at the frontline in assisting the millions of refugees fleeing the war, supported by other members of the Caritas Confederation.

Caritas and the Church are among the few remaining organizations to stand by the Ukrainian population, and their grassroots presence enables them to reach even very remote areas of conflict. “This is why our Confederation urges States and international agencies to support NGOs and faith-based organizations on the frontline to respond to the humanitarian crisis and deliver most of the aid and ensure protection in Ukraine”.

Caritas Internationalis asks the parties involved to guarantee the safe evacuation of vulnerable groups, especially children, women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Assistance must be provided to people in need and refugees without any kind of discrimination on the basis of nationality.

Caritas Internationalis also reiterates its call for the protection of the women and children on the move who represent around 90% of the refugees fleeing Ukraine and who are at great risk of becoming victims of human trafficking. It has been reported, also by local Caritas organizations, that there are organized crime groups on both sides of the border and in the host countries. Victims are often misled by the offer of transport to other countries and accommodation in private homes. Caritas organizations and NGOs active at the borders are already mobilizing their anti-trafficking network to monitor the situation and protect vulnerable people. “We strongly recommend that States implement and strengthen safeguarding and protection mechanisms to protect migrants from human traffickers,” adds John.

Finally, the Confederation urges that we do not forget the severe consequences that the Ukrainian conflict has and will have in many countries around the world where severe crises are already taking place. “The war in Ukraine will have a dramatic impact in terms of food insecurity. For example, in Syria, the price of a staple food like bread has skyrocketed. If COVID-19 increased the number of people in the world at risk of starvation by 130 million, this war is likely to increase the number of people at risk of starvation by the same number, if not more.”

Caritas Social Action Network Responds to Crisis in Ukraine