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Ukraine: Charity helps monks caring for hundreds of IDPs

  • John Newton

IDP family staying at Exaltation of Holy Cross Monastery, Buchach (© ACN).

IDP family staying at Exaltation of Holy Cross Monastery, Buchach (© ACN).

Six monasteries sheltering hundreds of IDPs in western Ukraine are to receive a vital injection of aid, thanks to a leading Catholic charity.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has just approved a new emergency aid package of more than £57,000 which will allow the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church's Basilian monks to continue helping those who fled the fighting.

The new ACN aid for the six houses of the Basilian Order of St Josaphat is in addition to more than £1 million supporting priests and religious across Ukraine helping those suffering because of the war.

The IDP crisis has placed an enormous financial burden on the monks, as the price of utilities such as electricity and water has risen sharply. They also have other expenses, such as medicine for the sick.

The Basilian's provincial house in Briukhovychi, near Lviv, is caring for 150 women and children.

One IDP woman at the Briukhovychi monastery spoke to ACN about her plight. She said: "It is very difficult. Our men stayed to fight, and we left, I left with four children. I don't know what to say, I am afraid, very afraid. We are from Kyiv, and the situation there is terrible at the moment."

As with many parents, concern for her children's safety prompted her to flee. Indicating the child she was holding, she said: "She is two months old. We try to keep her as safe as we can, at least for now. We had to leave our husbands and I came with my daughter-in-law, her baby and two teenagers. This is how it is - we never expected it."

IDPs are allowed to stay in the monastery for as long as they need to.

Many of the women who arrive are not looking to leave the country, and want to return home as soon as the fighting is over.

This includes Halyna, one of the 130 IDPs being cared for at the Basilian's historic Monastery of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Buchach. Originally from Makariv, near Kyiv, she left when the Russian bombardment meant it was too dangerous to remain.

She said: "We stayed for as long as we could, but in the end we had to leave because the bombing became too intense. Now everything is destroyed. We are very grateful to the monks who took us in, they have been very welcoming. I am not exaggerating when I say we are very comfortable here.

"We hope that the war will end soon, so we can go back home. If, that is, there is a home to go back to."

With thanks to Maria Lozano for her help.


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