Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, 4.8 million people have fled the country, and another 7.1 million are displaced within Ukraine. One quarter of Ukraine’s entire population has been displaced. Reports of horrific violence and brutality are emerging from within Ukraine as families try to stay safe and alive. Shelves are empty of food and supplies. Significant numbers of Ukrainian refugees are now present in countries throughout Europe.
CRS AND CARITAS RESPONSE
Within Ukraine and across 10 neighboring countries, CRS is supporting Caritas partners to assist hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians with safe shelter, food and water, information, transportation, hygiene, and counseling and emotional support. The commitment of staff members is remarkable amid the highly volatile conditions. For example, Caritas-Spes was active in Bucha within days of the reported atrocities there.
CRS has helped coordinate the transport of 857 tons of cargo from neighboring Caritas partners to Caritas Ukraine and Caritas-Spes. No other organization—national or international—is responding at the level or scale of our Caritas partners inside Ukraine. Priorities for support include:
Food and Urgent Relief
- Assisting field kitchens and Caritas centers in providing families with hot meals and food they can bring with them in transit.
- Recruiting and training volunteers for a range of activities, such as packing food and relief kits.
- Providing cash assistance to displaced Ukrainians so they can buy key supplies at local markets and while in transit.
- Supporting host communities as they assist Ukrainian refugees.
- Coordinating with our regional partners to organize cross-border humanitarian convoys that will move desperately needed food and living supplies into Ukraine.
Lilya Balyuk left Lviv, Ukraine, with her two sons to stay with her mother-in-law in Poland. She has a small apartment where they can stay as a family. She and her son David came to a Caritas Poland donation distribution point near the Dorohusk border crossing to look for a winter jacket for her older son Kiril.
Photo courtesy of Philipp Spalek/Caritas Germany
Safe and Dignified Housing
- Offering shelter and services at Caritas centers, such as food, showers, children’s activities, information and safe places to rest.
- Coordinating with local parishes to make hosting arrangements for displaced families.
- Offering safe transportation to and from Caritas centers.
- Providing mattresses, blankets, kitchen kits, hygiene items and basic supplies to people living in temporary, government-run centers.
- Coordinating with local governments to provide shelter at multiple border crossing points for displaced and unaccompanied children.
- Assisting host families and offering vulnerable hosts incentives for their support.
- Adapting and rehabilitating buildings that can offer safe, dignified shelter to displaced families.
Emotional Care & Support Services
- Establishing reception centers at Caritas offices, train stations and other locations for families in transit and continuing support for these centers, which are providing critical help and information to families about what services and options are available to them.
- Establishing and supporting child-friendly spaces at accommodation centers as well as government facilities at border transit areas.
- Offering counseling referrals to displaced Ukrainians of all ages to address issues of grief, stress and trauma.
- Training staff members and volunteers in psychological first aid.
- Providing emotional care and support for staff members and partners in Ukraine and across the region.
CRS’ ONGOING SUPPORT FOR CARITAS UKRAINE
CRS is working in close partnership with Caritas inside Ukraine as well as 9 other countries including Caritas Moldova, Caritas Romania, Caritas Poland, Caritas Bulgaria, Caritas Slovakia, Caritas Montenegro, Caritas Herzegovina, Caritas Hungary and Caritas Slovakia. To strengthen and expand the capacity of our local partners, we have deployed dozens of staff members who specialize in technical areas like logistics, protection, human resources, finance and shelter. CRS has supported Caritas Ukraine since the conflict began in 2014, and helped to provide shelter, food and livelihood assistance to displaced families and people affected by crisis. Prior to this crisis, CRS had a modest presence in Moldova, where we supported programs focused on the well-being of vulnerable children.
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