Ukraine crisis: Stories from the humanitarian experts on the ground

20 April 2022

A humanitarian expert stands with piles of donated clothing behind them

Caritas coordinator Agnjetschka at a refugee shelter in a school gym.

Read stories from the humanitarian professionals and volunteers working around the clock with people fleeing violence in Ukraine.

Reaching out with kindness and compassion

At least 5 million people have fled their homes to escape conflict and more than 7 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine. To date the Ukrainian health ministry has said more than 300 innocent women, men and children have died. Without a ceasefire these figures continue to rise.

Thanks to your kind donations and support, we have been able to respond quickly through the Caritas network - which CAFOD is a member of - to provide shelter, food and safe spaces for families who have lost everything. The humanitarian professionals and volunteers working on your behalf are local. They risk their own lives serving people in need. 

CAFOD is deeply saddened by the news of two Caritas Ukraine humanitarian professionals and their relatives being killed in a rocket attack in Mariupol, Ukraine. These aid workers, like many others, were helping to distribute supplies to civilians still trapped in Mariupol without food, water, heating or electricity. 

"Thanks to all the people who have been expressing their love, concern and their practical support for the people of Ukraine. That’s very deeply felt and appreciated by all of us."

Tetiana Stawnychy, President of Caritas Ukraine

As one Catholic family, we believe it is our duty to reach out with kindness and compassion to our sisters and brothers wherever they are. We are strongly compelled to respond just as we are responding in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Syria.

Please pray for Ukraine

Understanding the needs of the people

The local experts we work with understand people’s specific needs: from water and food; to shelter and clothing; to medicine and psychological support. No one is the same; no crisis is the same.

Now is your chance to hear from some of those brave women and men working around the clock with people fleeing the violence. Some of them are internally displaced people (IDPs) or refugees themselves.

During the Concert for Ukraine, Vladyslav - a Caritas Ukraine aid worker - shared how, despite being forced to flee his own home, he’s now working in Lviv to help Ukrainian families: "We see a lot of people affected by war. I totally understand how they feel because I am also an IDP."

Providing food

Father Vyacheslav Grynevych, Director of Caritas-Spes in Ukraine, is on the ground now. His team are helping to ensure people who are preparing to leave Ukraine have something to eat.

Two people carrying a large saucepan between them

Caritas-Spes, a charity of the Religious Mission of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine, provides meals for people waiting to cross the border into Poland.

“We understand that these are only the first days of a terrible war,” Father Vyacheslav says. “Like a terrible dream, it has enwrapped our society.”

Pray with us

Providing shelter

Caritas Moldova has set up refugee centres, where staff and volunteers are providing shelter, food and medical support to those fleeing across the border. Nearly 90% of refugees that have crossed into Moldova are women and children.

People fleeing the war in Ukraine

People fleeing the war in Ukraine reach safety at a border crossing into Moldova.

Providing therapy

Maria is a social worker from Caritas Boryslav in Ukraine. She has been helping children to come to terms with what has happened to them through therapy.

A therapist helps a child writing on a piece of paper

Maria, a social worker from Caritas Boryslav, running an art therapy session.

“At Caritas Boryslav we try to play with them, paint together, just create a safe space and make contact," Maria says.

"Many children start painting with black paint - really scary things. But then they start to add other colours."

Providing hope

Caritas Poland has set up tents near the Ukraine border, which serve as a meeting point and place to contact relatives and friends.

Two humanitarian experts talking outside a tent

Caritas workers and volunteers outside the ‘tents of hope' near the border between Ukraine and Poland.

Refugees receive a warm meal here. A warm meal, after days on the run, often helps people to regain some hope. This is why Caritas Poland staff have called the tents, ‘tents of hope’.

Please keep the people of Ukraine in your thoughts and prayers

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