Responding to the War in Ukraine

Even before the eruption of all-out war in Ukraine, Catholic faithful worldwide were calling for a decrease in tensions and praying for peace to prevail, especially as Russia amassed its troops in border areas and launched joint military maneuvers in neighboring Belarus in January 2022.

A year and a half later, nearly 8 million Ukrainian refugees have sought refugee in neighboring countries, almost 6 million of them in Europe. Poland hosts nearly 2.7 million Ukrainian refugees, while other European countries hosting major numbers include the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Moldova, Romania, and Latvia. The U.S. has welcomed over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees as a major host country outside of Europe.

Additionally, nearly 6 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, and an estimated 17.6 million people are in need of internal humanitarian assistance. The vast majority of internally displaced persons, mostly women and children, have fled their homes in the east of the country in order to find safety in the west.

The UN predicts that hundreds of thousands will continue to move west to find safety. The conflict situation is fluid, with previously liberated cities coming under indiscriminate shelling, bringing great uncertainty amid escalating tensions.

ICMC Secretary General visits displaced people in Ukraine
ICMC Responds in Ukraine
ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo traveled to Ukraine twice with ICMC programming staff since the beginning of the war to witness first-hand the situation of displaced people. During his first trip in July 2022, the team first visited Krakow, Poland, and Msgr. Vitillo attended the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Poland, held in the town of Przemysl.

Projects funded by ICMC in Ukraine and neighboring countries:

Children at the House of Mercy in Chortkiv, Western Ukraine
Mental health and psychosocial support,
In the town of Chortkiv in Ternopil Oblast, the Eparchy of Buchach runs the Chortkiv House of Mercy, a rehabilitation center that houses internally displaced persons since the beginning of the war. ICMC’s support ensures continued funding of the salaries of six psychologists, facilitating psychological counseling services for some 500 displaced people housed at the center. Beneficiaries also include vulnerable local children, many with cognitive disabilities, who were already receiving care at the House of Mercy before the war.

Responding to the War in Ukraine 2
Support to seminarians and clergy,
Since the beginning of the war, Ukrainian clergy have seen an increased demand for counseling from those with complex trauma issues. Their experiences range from witnessing killings, experiencing/witnessing sexual abuse, being forced to kill in self-defense, reflecting on the morality of killing one’s enemies, and on the role of God in this situation of widespread suffering and misery.
Woman in her bedroom at shelter in Ukraine
Shelter support
Since the war began, thousands of displaced people – mostly women, children, and some elderly if they were physically able to flee – have been sheltering in the various monasteries, seminaries, and convents in the diocese of Ivano-Frankivsk.

Children eating at a shelter in Ukraine
Childcare and educational support
At the St. Nicolas House of Mercy rehabilitation center in the town of Lviv, a newly established kindergarten provides preschool education to displaced and local children, and free childcare that enables internally displaced mothers to work during the day.

Children in a shelter in Western Ukraine
Emergency cash for food and medicines
ICMC provided emergency funding to purchase first necessity items, medicines and other items unavailable through the usual humanitarian channels, and purchased water heaters for internally displaced women and children living in an abandoned former student dormitory in Ivano-Frankivsk. ICMC partnered with the Knights of Columbus to identify and address these emergency needs.
Young Ukrainian refugees wait at a border crossing into Europe
Young Ukrainian refugees await registration at a border crossing into Europe (© Halfpoint/Shutterstock)
Support to Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries
Since the outbreak of the war, approximately 85,000 refugees from Ukraine have sought protection in the small Baltic State of Latvia. Caritas Latvia estimates that 30% of them are children and young people. While the Latvian government has provided effective access to the territory and support for immediate needs, Ukrainian refugees continue to face many challenges that require a more long-term approach.
ICMC Convening Efforts To Coordinate Church Responses to the War in Ukraine 
Photo: A member of a Catholic organization helps refugees board busses at the Polish-Ukrainian border. ©Pakking Leung via Wikimedia Commons
The Catholic Response for Ukraine (CR4U) Working Group
Local communities are the frontline responders in any humanitarian emergency, and Catholic structures and religious institutions, both within and outside of Ukraine, have opened their doors to take in as many people as possible.

The CR4U Working Group is comprised of the following members:

The main areas of activity of the working group are information-sharing, advocacy, humanitarian responses, communications, and support to clergy and laypersons who find themselves working as frontline responders on the ground, often with little preparation or respite.

Read more:

Church in Ukraine Training Priests to Offer Trauma Support

Catholic Response for Ukraine Can Serve as Model in Other Crises

ICMC Delegation Visits Ukraine

A Journey to Ukraine – The Humanitarian Crisis and the Catholic Response

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WHAT WE DO

ICMC provides assistance and protection to vulnerable people on the move and advocates for sustainable solutions for refugees and migrants.