Caritas launches Ukraine appeal

Caritas will help elderly people living in bomb-damaged homes rebuild for winter. Credit: Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

Caritas will help elderly people living in bomb-damaged homes rebuild for winter. Credit: Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

Caritas is appealing for support for Ukraine to help people caught in conflict get through the winter.

The appeal for Euros 1.5 million will focus on shelter, winterisation, counselling and access to basic health services. The aid will reach over 17,000 people, mostly concentrated in eastern Ukraine and especially for people living along the frontline or ‘Buffer Zone’ between government and rebel forces.

Fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces started in April 2014, and has forced over 2.3 million people to flee their homes, 1.5 million of whom remain within Ukraine.

Money has run out for many of those who have left their homes or are unable to find work as a result of the war and the economic crisis. A Caritas survey of families in the Buffer Zone found that expenses were four times higher than income for basic daily life.

Many families lack warm clothes, bedding, shoes and fuel for the winter. Credit: Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

Many families lack warm clothes, bedding, shoes and fuel for the winter. Credit: Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

Caritas Ukraine’s president Andrij Waskowycz said, “Many people see Ukraine as a political or military crisis, but it’s a humanitarian crisis. A lot of people are suffering. You see that they need everything. They need food, they need clothes and they need support for their children to go to school. It’s one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Europe since the Second World War.”

“They lived a normal European life, but now they have lost everything. A woman from Donetsk in the rebel-held area told me that before she lived a good life. She had a nice home, she travelled abroad for holidays, she had friends. Now instead of going to the gym, she goes to the forest to collect wood. Instead of going to the shops, she has to fetch water. They have lost everything.”

“The next big problem is that they now face the winter. We have to concentrate as Caritas on getting them through the winter. They need places to stay, warm clothes and medicine. Towards the frontline, there are no social services. In the Buffer Zone, it’s difficult to buy coal. People froze to death last winter. There is no access to medicine for long term illness.”

Along the Buffer Zone, Caritas will provide shelter kits and cash for work to repair homes, deliver fuel  such as briquettes and wood, and stoves and will improve access to health services through the distribution of medical kits, as well as the provision of medical check-ups through local doctors from local health units or hospitals. Elsewhere, Caritas will support the winterisation of homes and counseling to those displaced by the conflict.

“In Ukraine, people try to support each other, but we don’t have the means. The government doesn’t have the means either. That’s why need help from outside to be able to provide humanitarian aid,” said Andrij Waskowycz.

“The Ukrainian crisis is not visible, but the needs are very deep. Caritas has to cope with these needs. The task found us because we are next to the people. We see the needs of the people and we respond. We have to be able to give them hope.”