UKRAINE: Salesian missionaries provide shelter, education and aid to refugees
Refugees are staying in Salesian centers and receiving humanitarian aid provided by Salesian organizations
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Poland and countries bordering Ukraine are accepting refugees fleeing the violence from the Russian invasion. Refugees are staying in Salesian centers and receiving humanitarian aid provided by Salesian organizations around the globe. UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, has said that more than 2 million people have fled the country. Salesians are working to provide shelter, food, medicines and other basic needs.
The University of Warsaw in Szczecin has already accepted 42 refugees in its dorms including children as young as 6 months old and three pregnant women. People are fleeing without any luggage and are in need of basic clothing and hygiene items as well as strollers, cots, and other supplies. Salesians have been helping the university with supplies, along with sorting and distributing these items.
After supplying people with basic needs, Salesians helped with buses to help transport refugees to other places where they would be safe. In agreement with Caritas of the Archdiocese of Szczecin and Kamień, Salesians donated materials including 70 tons of gifts, which were delivered by 40 transport trucks and buses. Salesian organizations have also been raising funds for relief materials. Salesians in Malta sent 500 kgs (1,100 pounds) of in-kind donations.
Salesian organizations have also been providing translators and assistance with official matters, organizing education for children and adults to learn Polish and for preschoolers to learn English, providing psychological care, and other support.
Education remains important during this challenging time. According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, there are 14,873 schools in the country with 4.2 million children and 441,000 teachers. The day after Russia attacked Ukraine, the ministry recommended that all educational institutions, including schools and universities, go on a two-week break, leaving children without access to education.
Schools have become centers for providing shelter and humanitarian aid. The ministry has launched an “Educators Help” initiative intended to mobilize school staff to help the Ukrainian Armed Forces and civilians. The organization Smart Education has been organizing meetings for children on Zoom.
On March 4, The U.N. Child Rights Committee said in its statement, “Children in Ukraine are currently subject to extreme suffering and trauma. They are being killed and injured. They are separated from their families. Homes are being destroyed. Their education is interrupted. There are reports of schools, orphanages and hospitals being attacked. Their daily lives and routines have been utterly shattered. As a consequence of the military attack on Ukraine, children are exposed to extreme violence and experience unbearable levels of fear and anxiety.”
According to the adviser to the president of Ukraine on children’s rights and children’s rehabilitation, there have been 28 child deaths and 62 children who have been injured due to the conflicts. Attacks against schools and hospitals are classified by the U.N. as one of the six grave violations committed against children.
According to the U.N., at least six educational facilities have faced shelling in recent days. Two teachers were killed when a missile struck a school in Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine. A school in Zhytomyr was hit by a Russian missile and at least three schools in Kharkiv were hit by Russian military strikes. The Russian army has also been indiscriminately shelling kindergartens in Ukraine, and a week before the start of a large-scale invasion a Russian-backed separatist group shelled a kindergarten in Stanytsia Luhanska.
Salesian missionaries still working in Ukraine as well as Salesians in surrounding countries will continue working on the front lines to provide for those in need.
Photo courtesy of Salesian Missions (contact for usage permissions)