Six hundred tonnes of aid, worth over 10 million euro have been sent by the Community of Sant'Egidio to Ukraine from Italy and other European countries over the period of the war.
The aid has reached displaced people and health institutions in the various Ukrainian regions battered by the war.
Sant'Egidio aid centres are operating in Kiev, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk. People can receive basic necessities and foodstuffs. There are always many people at the distribution point in Ivano-Frankivsk. Since the beginning of the war, hundreds of people have been forced to leave their homes and move to western Ukraine. A young mother with her baby, Olena flew from Khar'kiv to Ivano-Frankivsk a few months ago. She had to travel for four days to reach Pricarpazia (i.e.the Ivano-Frankivsk region).
She says: 'It was terrible. I think I hardly ever slept for a whole month. I was so tired... I woke up with every hiss of the train. I was afraid for my son, I was afraid for everyone. I don't wish anyone to see what we saw. Thank you, because this city has welcomed us. We are very grateful to the volunteers for their help."
Vitalij is a displaced person from the town of Liman in the Doneck region. His town is occupied, the infrastructure is destroyed, so he has been forced to spend the winter in Ivano-Frankivsk: 'There is no electricity, no gas. They say the outside of my house is all intact like a box, just ransacked."
Vitalij, Olena and many other displaced people regularly come to the Sant'Egidio Centre for help. Foodstuffs, warm clothes, shoes, baby food are distributed here. The volunteers do their best to give everyone what he or she needs to survive. They also give support and hope for a better future.
Olga is also from the Doneck region. At the moment her town is occupied, her house has been destroyed. At first, she and her family received food aid at the Sant'Egidio centre, but later she decided to help.
Olga explains: "I realised that I too can help people. Here I found many friends, people like me, in the same situation as my family. But we joined forces and now we help. Helping other people helps me to hold on, to keep hoping."
The aid centre in Ivano-Frankivsk has been functioning since the beginning of the war. Both people from the area and displaced persons volunteer here; four times a week they distribute aid, they talk and help solve problems.
Vladimir Shubinec, a volunteer:
"During this time I realised that many people need help and we have to mobilise, to help the people working here in this difficult time."
Ivan Kharuk, coordinator of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Ivano-Frankivsk:
" Working in our centre in this period, we have realised our help is very concrete and valuable. It is clear that we will continue to help them, at least we will try to help all these people in the future, too.
Our friends in Italy and other countries clearly understand the situation and have been doing a great job to help at the right time and effectively all those who need support in Ukraine, especially here in Ivano-Frankivsk, where so many have moved from the worst war-affected areas."
Ljudmila Kharchenko, coordinator of the Sant'Egidio aid centre:
"The Community of Sant'Egidio has been helping Ukraine in a massive way. We have calculated that up to now, 8.5 million euro in aid has been provided in medicine alone and 2.5 million euro in foodstuffs. The Communities from Rome, from other European countries support us and will help us in the future. We'll go on."
In addition to the aid distributed in Ukraine to internally displaced people, hospitals and other medical and social institutions, the Community evacuated many people under dialysis from the eastern and southern regions of the country. It organised their transfer to Italy, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.
Refugee aid centres continue to work in Kiev, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, where hundreds of people in need arrive.
Ljudmila Kharchenko explains:
"People come to us and tell us: you are the last possibility of help we have. We want to help these people in the future, too. When it gets cold, we will be able to give them warm clothes and we also hope to have foodstuffs to distribute. These people are very hopeful, they are waiting for this help. We see how important it is for them."
Support the activities of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Ukraine