A Catholic cardinal wearing a bulletproof vest stands with a woman holding a dog outside a severely damaged building.
Cardinal Krajewski during a recent visit to the front lines in Ukraine.

The Current Situation in War-Torn Ukraine as Humanitarian Needs Grow

If you receive a call from the Vatican, you most certainly pick up the phone — especially when it’s from a cardinal preparing to reenter a war zone. We recently received such a call from Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Charity.

Cardinal Krajewski was on his way to personally deliver aid to Ukraine on behalf of the Holy Father and was touching base with us to share how the Church’s efforts there were progressing. He is one of the brave Catholic partners working closely with Cross Catholic Outreach to rush emergency aid to internally displaced families and refugees. Cardinal Krajewski actually came under gunfire during this particular visit to Ukraine (more on that later).

Tragically, the war in Ukraine continues to escalate dangerously, and the situation is devastating to families. In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • The extreme measures Ukrainians are forced to take.
  • How the war is impacting children and families.
  • How you can help Ukraine’s refugees and internally displaced families.
A van emblazoned with “Humanitarian Ukraine” with volunteers and refugees.
Reception centers in Poland face increased strain to meet the growing demand as Ukrainian refugees continue to flee across the border.

Ukrainian Families Face the Tragedy of War

A mother stumbles down a road strewn with rubble, her two frightened children in tow. This time last year, she and her husband would have been planning a vacation for the family. Now their lives have been turned upside down, and she wonders whether her son and daughter will ever even see their father again.

More than a hundred miles away, another woman stands at a crowded checkpoint, hoping to cross into Poland before nightfall. Her children are grown, but she is heartsick because she was unable to confirm their whereabouts before fleeing her home. She prays they are safe.

In the Archdiocese of Przemyśl, Poland, two men set up cots for arriving refugees. Their parish has mobilized these volunteers to help set up shelters and distribute food, but the men are concerned the flow of incoming women and children could soon overwhelm them. Still, they work on, relying on God and the Church to make their mission of mercy successful.

These are just some of the hardships children and families have faced since the outbreak of war in Ukraine. It’s painful to see the fear and suffering in the eyes of refugees and internally displaced people, but the Catholic Church’s social doctrine is clear: We should not shrink back from these images because they are a call to action — a call from God — to share his love during this time of need.

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People stand in line near outdoor canopies.
Internally displaced families wait for relief supplies at a temporary shelter in Ukraine.

How War Impacts Ukraine’s Families

War impacts people in many ways. There is the obvious physical danger of gunfire and explosives, but other threats can be just as harmful. Extreme needs, when unmet, create pain, fear and despair. These dangers are just as real to the refugees fleeing Ukraine, and the shortages that produce these hardships are a direct result of the ongoing conflict.

Food, clean water and sanitary supplies become difficult to find as supply chains are cut off and infrastructure is damaged. Medical care and lifesaving medicines become unavailable, leaving hospitals unable to treat the injured and sick. Schools that haven’t been damaged or destroyed turn into temporary shelters, and children lose hope for a brighter future. Exposure to violence, death and destruction is traumatizing, and limited access to churches and the Sacraments makes people feel alone and separated from God’s love.

The war in Ukraine has forced millions of people to flee their homes with few or no belongings. In these circumstances, families must rely on outside help to survive and overcome trauma.

LEARN MORE: Ukraine Aid Delivered

A Catholic cardinal wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest stands outside a humanitarian aid vehicle.
Cardinal Krajewski distributes aid in Ukraine in September 2022.

How to Help Ukraine’s Children and Families

The needs of Ukraine’s internally displaced people and refugees remain great. Even if the war in Ukraine were to end today, the Church and her people would need to remain engaged and ready to serve. One of the ways you can rush aid where it is needed most is by supporting Cross Catholic Outreach and its network of Catholic partners in Ukraine and neighboring Poland.

Here’s how your donation to Cross Catholic Outreach’s Ukraine emergency aid fund can help children and families:

  1. You can provide food, water, ambulances and other much-needed supplies directly to Ukraine. Cross Catholic Outreach is supporting Cardinal Krajewski as he delivers humanitarian aid on behalf of the Holy Father. During a recent trip to Ukraine, he came under fire but emerged uninjured. The attack left him more determined than ever, and he continued to deliver supplies and rosaries blessed by Pope Francis.
  2. You can assist refugee families who’ve fled to Poland by helping to provide temporary and long-term shelter. We’re partnering with the Archdiocese of Przemyśl, Poland, located near the border with Ukraine, to focus on the care and resettlement of refugees. Your gift will empower the archdiocese to continue offering food, shelter and trauma therapy at its receiving centers while local partners help families secure living arrangements, employment and school for children.
  3. You can help fill stomachs with 816,480 Vitafood meals. These protein-rich meals are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of the malnourished. With your help, these meal packs can be distributed to refugee women and children through church feeding programs, food pantries and other trusted local partners.

The generosity of faithful friends like you will allow us to continue these important outreaches and extend an even greater impact in Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

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