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DEC/Maciek Musialek
Depaul International in Ukraine.jpg
DEC/Maciek Musialek
World News

‘The first thing people do when they meet us is cry’: Christian group continues to provide hope as war in Ukraine hits 2-year mark

by Heather Preston

As the world marks the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a local priests told Premier how Christian aid workers are bringing hope to communities that have lost everything.

On 24th February 2022, Russia launched military action in Ukraine, with forces crossing into the country from Belarus in the north, Russia in the east and Crimea in the south.

Russia’s offensive has resulted in tens of thousands of civilian deaths, the destruction of cities and infrastructure and the displacement of millions of Ukrainians.

Depaul International is one of the many organisations that has stepped in to provide humanitarian aid amid the crisis.

Charity representative Fr Vitaliy Novak told Premier life is difficult for those living in Kharkiv and Northeastern Ukraine, following a recent shelling by Russian forces.

“We just lost another city, and now people are worrying where they will push again. All the time permanent war, permanent defence and offensive missiles shelling in this part of the Ukraine.”

As the continuous instability and threat of attack takes its toile on locals, Fr Vitaliy said Depaul International is focused on providing emotional support as well as traditional aid.

“We have a powerful network reacting especially to the internally displaced people in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odessa.

“The first thing people do if they had a chance to escape their occupation and meet us is cry. It is the first thing people need first as they start to talk with us. And after, we try to solve the needs of where to stay etc.”

Depaul International has established a number of trauma centres to help people struggling through permanent war. Fr Vitaliy said the centres have helped around 200 children suffering from trauma.

“We have in every city, our centres, which are working and dealing with trauma, helping overcome it. We are trying to help them, because children are our future.”

Despite intense suffering and loss, Fr Vitaliy noted that locals are thankful to God for the work of Christian humanitarians in the region.

“They want to put up small chapels with the Virgin Mary Immaculate Conception because they saw it in our churches and they said let's put it here because we want to have this sign with us in our villages.”

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