As we call for paths of peace to be found, let us not forget to support the people suffering
All wars are humanitarian disasters, and so it is today in Ukraine, all the more so because of the firepower deployed. A year of war has claimed victims, destruction, wounded, refugees abroad and internally displaced persons on an immense scale. There are enormous human costs of war, and these will increase as the war continues. However, they are not always central to media attention and thus to public awareness. Actually, concentrating on considerations of military strategies and becoming accustomed to the images of destruction from Ukraine risk overshadowing the real living conditions of women, children, the elderly, the sick, affected by the violence of war.
In fact, 5 million Ukrainians have lost their homes and 2.4 million live in bomb-damaged houses. At the end of January, 1206 health institutions were hit and 170 completely destroyed: hospitals, clinics, health centres no longer able to work or only able to work partially.
Out of a population of 43.3 million, 8 million are refugees abroad and 5.4 million internally displaced persons. Almost a third of the population. Those remaining at home, half will need humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs in 2023.
As we call for paths of peace to be found, we cannot turn our eyes away from the tragedy of the civilian population. Humanitarian aid is therefore a priority and an absolute necessity.
War and impoverishment
Ukraine has experienced an impoverishment of living conditions since 2014, after the outbreak of war in the Donbass regions. In 2021, according to World Bank data, it was the poorest country in Europe with a GDP per capita of USD 4,836. After 24 February 2022, the whole Ukrainian population was further impoverished by the war. 20 million Ukrainians lost their income and 16 million became unemployed (IOM data). By the end of 2022, 11.1 million people were in food need.
Some 9.6 million Ukrainians are at risk of mental distress as a result of the war, according to the World Health Organisation.
In this context of suffering and general impoverishment, the condition of children is particularly painful. At the end of 2022, 429 children were reported killed and 808 injured. The trauma of war is profound for many minors. According to data from World Vision International, mental health of 1.5 million children is at risk. Besides the horror of war, there are also difficulties in the education system. 3098 education institutions have been bombed and 438 of these completely destroyed.
A year of solidarity
Ukraine needs peace. Solidarity is one of the aspects of peace especially when all around us speaks of war.
Our constant closeness to the Ukrainian population during these twelve months has allowed Sant'Egidio to have an articulate picture of the suffering and condition of Ukrainian society, particularly the most vulnerable. Thanks to the presence of the Ukrainian Communities of Sant'Egidio, that even though they share the sufferings, fears and hardships of the entire population, have never given up courageously engaging in the art of solidarity, it has been possible to set up a considerable network of humanitarian aid, and to distribute it in the areas worst hit by the fighting.
Over these 12 months, the Community has sent 1018.5 tonnes of humanitarian aid worth a total of €14.8 million to Ukraine. Four Humanitarian Aid Distribution Centres have been opened for internally displaced persons, in Lviv, in Ivano Frankivsk and in two districts of Kiev. Around 9,000 food parcels have been distributed in the four centres every month.
A total of 62,402 food parcels have been distributed and 15,046 families helped.
Let us continue to support aid to Ukraine and refugees
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