As Russia's invasion of Ukraine brings destruction and death to its cities, forcing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to flee their homes, CAFOD has joined with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to bring help in a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis.
Ahead of today's (Thursday 3 March) DEC appeal, CAFOD has already committed £100,000 in funds to its partners in Caritas Internationalis, one of the world's largest aid networks. Caritas Ukraine, Caritas Spes Ukraine and partners in neighbouring countries are on the ground, supporting families caught up in the conflict. On Tuesday a Caritas Spes shelter in Kharkiv was hit by shelling while families sheltered on a lower floor of the building.
CAFOD's local Caritas partners have sent reports from the ground in Ukraine.
Tetiana Stawnychy, President of Caritas Ukraine, said: "The current crisis will inevitably lead to a colossal humanitarian catastrophe. I am truly proud of our team that are working hard to look to the needs of the most vulnerable, while managing their own circumstances as well. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from our partners and people of good will from abroad.
"This is a huge trauma. I see a lot of parents struggling to shepherd their children through this and running them down to the basement whenever the air raid sirens go off.
"People are moving. We have 25 welcome centres throughout Ukraine that have been providing hot food, shelter, psychosocial support, and a warm place to sleep, and then help people on their way. We've also been helping along the borders - providing tents, heaters, hot food and drinks, and psychosocial support to women and children who are scared."
Father Vyacheslav Grynevych, Director of Caritas Spes Ukraine, said: "War makes both adults and children cry. We learn this when hiding in basements during air strikes. War-wounded hearts will never be healed. Aside from material losses that can be rebuilt over time, the pain and fear that people experience will take a long time to recover.
"In Kyiv, most grocery shops are empty and at this time when the city is closed, we cannot leave our houses. We have to remain inside in a safe place.
"In my house we have 37 people, children usually, with their mothers, and they have this space in our Church, in our house. Usually these people come from our neighbourhood. They also have dogs, they have birds, they have cats, so we have a little zoo.
"We understand that these are only the first days of a terrible war, that like a terrible dream has enwrapped our society."
Since Russian armed forces began their attacks on 24 February, hundreds of people have been killed and over 750,000 have fled the country. Fears are growing that the bombardment of cities will be stepped up in coming days.
DEC charities are in Ukraine and neighbouring countries meeting the needs of all refugees and families made homeless inside the country.
£30 could provide essential hygiene supplies for three people for one month
£50 could provide blankets for four families
£100 could provide emergency food for two families for one month
The DEC brings 15 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ActionAid UK, Age International, Action against Hunger, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, IRC-UK, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan International UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly. dec.org.uk
CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and part of Caritas International. Working with communities across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need, regardless of race, gender, religion, or nationality.
You can help the people of Ukraine in the following ways:
Donate to the DEC's Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal
Urge the UK government to push for peace in Ukraine and safety for refugees
Pray for those affected