As the war continues and intensifies, Cordaid is mobilising support for the people of Ukraine. Both as chair of a Dutch national fundraising campaign, and by supporting Caritas networks who are working around the clock in the war-hit country.
"We all know the future and identity of Europe are at stake in Ukraine. And we desperately call for the atrocities to stop. As humanitarians, our first concern is the suffering of hundreds of thousands of women, children, and men brutally displaced and adrift. And of those in the cities and villages who are desperately seeking safety, food, medical, and other life-saving care. We have to reach out to them. We have to step up our efforts, and we are doing that", says Cordaid CEO Kees Zevenbergen.
Dutch fundraising at its best
Cordaid chairs a Dutch public fundraising campaign in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The campaign is a joint effort of 11 Dutch humanitarian organisations, in close collaboration with national media partners and many others from all corners of Dutch society. It was launched on February 28th and will culminate next week during a live national television event. So far, after only a few days, the campaign yielded more than 9 million euros.
Supporting Caritas in Ukraine
Meanwhile, our humanitarian coordinators in the Hague are closely collaborating with Caritas aid workers on the ground in Ukraine, both from Caritas Ukraine (Greek Catholic) and from Caritas Spes (Roman Catholic).
"Caritas in Ukraine is a very robust and strong network of organisations all over the country. Many of their aid workers and hundreds of volunteers have been delivering assistance in tough conditions ever since the 2014 incursion in Eastern Ukraine. These days they are working around the clock in all parts of the country", says Cordaid humanitarian aid coordinator Inge Leuverink, who visited Ukraine in 2017.
Coping with the predicament of displacement
Cordaid is a contributor to the Caritas emergency response that addresses the essential needs of some 5000 displaced families in the northern, southern, and eastern parts of Ukraine. Caritas staff provides food, water, and hygiene supplies, as well as reliable information.
"Further to that, to cope with the stress of displacement, especially in the harsh winter conditions, people are also offered safe accommodation, to stay, sleep, to eat, and to freshen up", says Inge Leuverink.
Children in institutions
This Caritas emergency response also provides specific assistance for children. Caritas Spes has the facilities and the professionals to provide safe spaces and psycho-social support for children. Ukraine has one of the largest caseloads of children placed in institutions, often in custody of the state, even though many of them have one or two parents. Under the current circumstances of war, they are at great risk of physical harm and trauma. Caritas Spes reaches out to them.
Assistance in Kyiv and Ivano Frankivsk
Cordaid has also applied and obtained Dutch relief Alliance funding for an amount of 800.000 euros. With this money, we will support Caritas assistance in Kyiv and Ivano Frankivsk, near the Polish border.
“Both host communities and displaced persons in these heavily affected and densely populated parts of Ukraine are lacking everything. They need food, water, hygiene kits, both for adults, children, and babies. They need basic medical items, and items to keep themselves warm. And the elderly and the sick have extra needs. Our support allows Caritas in Ukraine to provide all this to some 7600 people in Kyiv and Ivano Frankivsk”, explains Paul Borsboom, WASH expert with Cordaid.
The elderly need special care
"Among the many Ukrainians that need assistance and our support, the elderly and others who cannot easily fend for themselves need extra care", Borsboom continues. "If you're too old to move fast and to seek safety when airstrikes hit, or too sick or impaired, you are more at risk. Caritas has a history and a track record in reaching out to them."
Reaching out and staying safe
As Putin's war intensifies by the day, the risks run by Ukrainian aid workers increase accordingly. Yet they continue, setting up kitchens, protecting kids, making sure people have enough food and water in bomb shelters, reaching out to the displaced. And when air raid sirens go off or airstrikes can be heard, they organize their own protection as well as they can. "Sorry, I have to go, there is shelling in my village", one Caritas aid worker texted in haste only yesterday evening.
Especially in Eastern Ukraine, many aid workers have been used to wearing flak jackets and other protective gear for years. "These days, all over the country, they are organizing their own safety and security in the best possible way. Stretching the limits of courage, while at the same time reducing risks", Leuverink says.
"The aggressor cannot destroy our aspirations"
Fr. Vyacheslav Grynevych, head of Caritas Spes, recently wrapped up the situation in a moving manner: "The aggressor is destroying our villages, our houses, even our kindergartens. But he is not able to destroy our aspirations for peace and freedom. We will all courageously continue to help people."