(Vatican Radio) At least 10 people have been killed and dozens wounded this week in renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Fighting in the frontline town of Avdiivka has left thousands of residents without water or power in freezing conditions.
The Catholic Church’s aid organization, Caritas, is in place in Donetsk - the most affected region - and has sent extra teams of aid workers to the city of Adviivka to help people in need on the frontline.
Linda Bordoni spoke to Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa about the humanitarian emergency.
Due to the escalation in violence and the increased humanitarian needs, Jorge Nuño Mayer explains, Caritas Ukraine has sent more people to the city of Adviivka which has been suffering the most in the last days starting from the night between Saturday and Sunday with intensified shellings.
He explains that out of some 25,000 inhabitants of the city only about 15,000 are left including “some 2,000 children and 10,000 elderly and disabled people who have it very difficult to flee from this war scenario so Caritas is there to help, even in these difficult conditions, also because the winter in eastern Ukraine is very harsh”.
Notwithstanding the danger for Caritas people he says the main concern is for the people who are suffering, mainly the children and the elderly.
“Caritas Ukraine has distributed in the last days 1,000 food packs; the idea is to distribute 10 tons of food in these days to the population so they have enough for 2/3 weeks of food” he said.
Nuño Mayer says Caritas is also distributing medical kits because the medical services are not functioning in that part of the country.
He expresses gratitude for the support of the whole Caritas family around the world that is supporting Caritas Ukraine as it struggles to be there for people caught in the crossfire where the war is re-igniting.
The Secretary General says the media has ‘forgotten’ the predicament of the people in the area but “we have to remind everyone that that region of eastern Ukraine more than 5 million people are affected, nearly 3 million people have fled from the area, nearly 1.7 million are living in the central and western parts of Ukraine and others have fled to Russia and other neighboring countries.”
“So Ukraine, as a whole, is facing an enormous challenge, relocating people and helping people to find a new future in other parts of the country” he said.
And, he says, coming back to Avdiivka, it is necessary to take into account how difficult it is for people there because “the electricity lines have been destroyed, heating is not working and with temperatures of 17 degrees Celsius below zero, it’s really very difficult to survive.
Looking to the future, Nuño Mayer says “we hope for peace, we hope for dialogue, we hope that people can return to their homes, that people can start living their lives, caring for their children, hoping for a future” he said.
He points out that Caritas is not a political organ “but we are trying to bring tenderness, as Pope Francis would say: we have to implement a revolution of tenderness everywhere and in this difficult situation of conflict and hatred. Tenderness has to be there because only on this tenderness can we rebuild the society”.
Nuño Mayer appeals to listeners and especially to politicians to not forget Ukraine, to not forget this part of Europe that is under threat and that has the right to live in peace.
He also asks for support and says that people can send their contribution to help Ukraine through every national Caritas which will then channel funds through the Caritas Internationalis mechanisms to Caritas Ukraine and to Caritas SPES-Ukraine and they can be sure the money will reach the people in need.
Nuño Mayer concludes recalling the successful collection for the people of Ukraine called for by Pope Francis and organized by the bishops and said that the initiative is still bearing fruit, and in anycase, he says: “prayer will also help very much”.