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Polish Catholic charity says it has helped 1.8m Ukrainians since war started

23.02.2024 15:00
Polish Catholic charity Caritas Polska says it has provided over PLN 304 million (EUR 76 million) in humanitarian aid to Ukraine over the last two years, helping some 1.8 million people affected by Russia's invasion.
A Ukrainian mother grieves the loss of her son.
A Ukrainian mother grieves the loss of her son.Photo courtesy of Caritas Polska

As the war in Ukraine enters its third year, its impact on civilians continues to deepen, with nearly 6.5 million Ukrainian war refugees registered worldwide, including approximately 1 million in Poland.

Caritas Polska, a major humanitarian organization, has been at the forefront of providing assistance, with close to PLN 150 million (USD 36 million) in aid delivered to Ukrainians in both Poland and Ukraine in 2023 alone.

Tatiana Sycheva, a beneficiary of Caritas Polska's Family to Family program in Ukraine, illustrated the harsh reality of arriving from Mariupol with nothing but the clothes on her back and "longing for a life without the constant sound of sirens and explosions" – a sentiment echoed by many Ukrainians after two years of war.

Caritas Polska's Director, Fr. Marcin Iżycki, emphasized the enduring need for support: "We must not succumb to war fatigue. It is our duty to stand by those in need."

This is demonstrated by tireless efforts to assist the most vulnerable in Ukraine, including large families, the elderly, and the unemployed, Iżycki says.

In some areas, employment rates have plummeted by up to 60 percent. Caritas Polska's response includes long-term aid programs such as "Package for Ukraine" and "Family to Family," providing monthly financial support to the neediest.

The situation in Ukraine remains dire, despite the routine nature which news from the war has assumed for many outside of the country.

The United Nations reports that 17.6 million Ukrainians, more than half the current estimated population, require humanitarian assistance. Nearly 3 million people are living close to the front line and face severe shortages of food, fuel and other basic commodities, as well as a lack of medicines and healthcare, all the while struggling against dwindling means of financial support.

Caritas Polska, along with its partners Caritas Spes Ukraine and Caritas Ukraine, focuses on regions most affected by the conflict or those hosting internally displaced persons, addressing basic needs such as food, clothing, medical services and shelter.

This extensive support network provides immediate relief and fosters a sense of community and resilience among those affected by the war.

In Poland, Caritas Polska has established 28 Migrant and Refugee Assistance Centers which offer comprehensive support ranging from material aid to integration efforts such as Polish language lessons and assistance with finding employment.

A third of the people who have sought assistance at those centers have been children, many of them severely traumatised.

Paulina Gradek, from Caritas Polska's Częstochowa Diocese, explained: "The kids who ended up with us come from rehabilitation and education centers, so their past is connected not only with the war and the trauma of evacuation but also with the fact that they come from troubled families. Their educational and upbringing needs are specialized. At the center, we see that learning in the Ukrainian language has given them a great sense of security. This has had a very positive impact on their upbringing process. The children have changed their approach to everyday life."

Renata Makuch, coordinator of an assistance center in Warsaw said: "In the second year of aid, we have focused on areas related to societal integration, such as learning the Polish language and the labor market. We teach people not only how to communicate but also how to take care of themselves. This is very much needed in the job market, at a clinic, in school, in everyday life. Nothing works as well towards building up independence as a steady job, which is associated with a steady income." 

As the war continues, the call for continued solidarity with the Ukrainian people remains strong.

"The war is the opposite of normalcy; it cannot become mundane," Iżycki said, highlighting the ongoing and escalating needs, particularly in smaller towns and villages where the situation is most difficult.

More details can be found on the charity's website 


Source: caritas.pl