Media CenterOne Year On, the Catholic Response to War in Ukraine Continues to Meet the Mounting Needs

Photo courtesy of Hermann Köhler/Caritas international

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Megan Gilbert
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 825-3640

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Feb. 23, 2023 – One year into the war in Ukraine, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) continues to respond and adapt to the needs in the region, alongside the local Church, in 12 countries. As the war enters its second year, the needs of Ukrainians inside the country and in Europe are growing. According to the United Nations, nearly 8 million Ukrainian refugees are living in Europe and almost 18 million people need humanitarian assistance inside Ukraine.

CRS works with its church partners in Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Georgia and Greece. Since the war began, humanitarian assistance has reached more than 1.4 million people with shelter, food and mental health support. This response is possible because of the strong network and presence of Catholic churches and partner organizations in the region.

“Whenever there is a crisis, no matter how big or small, the church is there, ready to support people when they need it,” Davide Bernocchi, CRS’ country representative for Moldova and Ukraine, said. “They are already in these communities and are trusted. People know they can turn to them for a place to stay or a hot meal.”

“Families who fled their homes in Ukraine were supported within Ukraine and then also supported by Caritas organizations in neighboring countries as they continued their journey,” Britton Buckner, CRS’ European outreach manager, said. “Caritas organizations have grown in incredible ways. They have mobilized over 160 support centers staffed by thousands of employees and volunteers to provide customized care to families.”

A lack of access to electricity and other heating sources continues to be a problem for hundreds of thousands of families, as the cold temperatures extend into March. People who have returned often find their homes damaged or destroyed. They need financial support to make repairs to their homes and buy household essentials.

“In Ukraine, utilities and other infrastructure have been the target of strikes for months,” Bernocchi said. “This makes it very difficult for people to go to work, for their children to go to school, and to access even basic services. Day to day life can be very unpredictable. Our priority is to make sure people have safe, dignified homes wherever they may be. The support we provide allows people to do things like fix their windows, pay rent, or buy supplies to keep them warm.”

For refugees living in neighboring countries, jobs, language courses, school and appropriate housing are also critical needs. CRS is also making contingency plans for whatever comes next, whether it's recovery and rebuilding after the war, or more waves of displacement if the fighting continues.

“Ukrainians have endured so much,” Bernocchi said. “They have been forced to leave their homes, have been separated from their families, and in some cases move to a new country to keep their loved ones safe. Through all of this, they have shown strength, perseverance and resilience. We hope and pray that this year will bring an end to the war and peace to Ukraine.”


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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