Polish Catholics and those in Western Ukraine are prepared to provide refuge for Ukrainians who were forced to flee their homeland amid Russia’s escalating aggression, according to Catholic News Service. Displaced from their homes, refugees face numerous threats to their health including freezing temperatures, and getting essentials such as food and water. The president of the Polish bishop’s conference, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, has appealed to his countrymen “for open and hospitable hearts for refugees from Ukraine who will seek refuge from war in Poland.” Praying for the conflict to end peacefully, Polish churches are hastily preparing support programs and facilities.
According to Catholic News Service, Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki from Lviv in Western Ukraine, said that his church is ready to welcome refugees with food, water, and housing having rented vacant homes to use as shelters. They have also “organized first-aid courses for priests, religious and laypeople to care for the injured if necessary.”
Organizations mobilizing their efforts to help include the U.S. Catholic International Aid Organization and Catholic Relief Services. Sean Callahan, the president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services shared that they were working with Caritas Ukraine, an organization that provides humanitarian assistance. Caritas Poland, which provides humanitarian aid especially for victims of natural disasters and “armed conflicts around the world,” is also working with local agencies to build up support programs for refugees.
Though Poland has been welcoming refugees from Ukraine “even before the threat of war became so real,” the urgency for refugee support has increased drastically as Russian troops began to enter Ukraine on Monday. Callahan shared that Catholic Relief Services recognizes that the scale of the crisis facing Ukraine could escalate to levels that will overwhelm aid agencies in the region, and lead to an unfathomable amount of suffering in Europe. Still, he and other aid agencies are hopeful that diplomacy and peace will prevail.