By Andrea Gagliarducci
“Pope for Ukraine” is a Vatican initiative that aims to collaborate with non-Catholic entities to respond to the emergency humanitarian situation amid conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The Pope for Ukraine initiative started in 2016, when Pope Francis
launched an extraordinary collection for the Ukraine. The initiative
collected 11 million euros, along with 5 million euros donated by Pope
Msgr. Segundo Tejado Munoz, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, traveled to Ukraine Nov. 14–18 with a delegation led by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery.
The delegation oversaw all the projects launched thanks to the initiative, and traveled to the territories of Donetsk and Kharkiv, the most impacted by conflict between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country.
Tejado told CNA that “Pope Francis wanted to help to tackle the humanitarian emergency, with a prompt aid. This is the reason why money was directly transferred to Ukraine, where a technical committee selected the projects that could best respond to the emergency.”
The priest clarified that “projects were chosen despite any religious, confessional or ethnic belonging. Every kind of association was involved, and the priority was given to those able to access to the areas of conflict, and so able to more promptly provide responses.”
This is the reason why, for example, the committee also developed a collaboration with the Red Cross, which is uniquely able to access conflict zones.
Tejado said that the emergency phase is concluding, and most of the projects are over.
The projects financed are mostly in the areas of Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and the metropolitan area of Kyiv, where most of the internally displaced people are now living.
Msgr. Tejado said that 6.7 million euros were invested to aid those without heat and other necessities during the winter; that project helped 107,000 people. 2.4 million euros were allocated to fix medical infrastructures, and 5.7 million euros were allocated to deliver food and clothes and improve hygienic conditons. Finally, more than 1 million euro was allocated to programs offering psychological support, especially for children, mothers, and victims of rape.
Tejado noted that situation in Ukraine is difficult.
“Social problems are similar to the ones of the rest of Europe: static economics, youth unemployment and poverty. This situation is expanded by the crisis.”
“The cost of living grows due to inflation,” Msgr. Tejado added.
However, he stressed that “despite everything, there are many people committed and many associations working with and for hope, looking to the future to start again.”
“And the Church’s bodies and entities are trying to lend a hand.”