Charities Operating in UkraineSince February 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrust Ukrainians into a humanitarian crisis. According to the United Nations, as of July 2022, 12 million Ukrainians at minimum have “fled their homes” since the invasion. In particular, five charities operating in Ukraine aim to address the humanitarian needs of citizens amid the conflict.

5 Charities Operating in Ukraine

  1. Mercy Corps. In Ukraine, Mercy Corps works primarily by connecting with and funding local refugee organizations in Ukraine, Poland and Romania. The organizations that Mercy Corps supports distribute basic essentials such as food and medical resources. In particular, Mercy Corps prioritizes marginalized groups like people with disabilities, Ukraine’s Roma and the elderly. In Ukraine, Mercy Corps has assisted evacuations of more than 18,000 people, and in Poland, the organization has delivered “essential services to 52,000 Ukrainians and third-country nationals.”
  2. Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JJC). Ukraine’s community of Jewish people “is one of the largest in the world,” housing as many as 200,000 Jews. However, antisemitism in Ukraine is a significant issue as Jewish people in Ukraine endure hate crimes in the form of physical assaults, vandalism of Jewish infrastructure and other public acts of xenophobia, according to details from a 2018 report by the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group. To support the humanitarian needs of the Jewish amid the Ukraine crisis, JCC has provided essential resources such as “food and medicine” as well as psychological support for trauma. The JCC also runs “emergency hotlines in collaboration with local Jewish communities” in Ukraine and surrounding countries such as Poland and Moldova. The JCC also arranges evacuations, including transport and accommodations. For the Jewish elderly who need to evacuate, the JCC arranges “special medical transport.” Since its establishment, the JJC has provided support to “an estimated 40,000 Jewish elderly and 2,500 poor Jewish children in Ukraine,” according to the JCC website.
  3. Youth Agency for the Advocacy of Roma Culture (ARCA). Pre-war, ARCA aimed to promote the “development of the Roma youth movement” while “[supporting] and [preserving] Roma history and culture,” hoping to uplift a persecuted Ukrainian population of about 400,000 Roma individuals. Since the February 2022 attack on Ukraine, ARCA has been operating in partnership with the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) to provide humanitarian help to Ukrainian Roma. The partnership uses its funds to provide essential supplies, such as food and medicine, while aiding the relocation of “vulnerable community members” and helping to facilitate the crossing of the Ukrainian border for the Roma seeking refuge in other countries. So far, through a GoFundMe page, the partnership has been able to raise €6,741 for these purposes.
  4. Water Mission. The 2022 conflict in Ukraine has denied more than 6 million people access to safe and clean water. Water Mission focuses on bringing these Ukrainians “emergency water treatment equipment and water purification supplies” along with hygiene kits to improve access to safe water and promote good health amid the crisis. By August 2022, Water Mission had “installed 18 safe water systems across the cities of Mykolaiv, Pokrovsk, Kramatorsk and Myrnohrad,” producing more than 2 million liters of safe and clean water for Ukrainians, the organization’s Facebook page highlights.
  5. The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). According to its website, the “UNHCR in Ukraine operates out of offices in Lviv, Vinnytsia, Uzhhorod, Chernivtsi, Dnipro and in Donetsk and Luhansk.” Most broadly, UNHCR provides humanitarian assistance in Ukraine in the form of protection, shelter, food and refugee support. In light of the war in Ukraine commencing in February 2022, an inter-agency Regional Refugee Response Plan came into being. The Plan focuses on supporting governments of host countries welcoming refugees, providing immediate relief to refugees of military hostilities while working closely with state authorities.

The help of these five charities operating in Ukraine provides direct support to the innocent civilians impacted by the ongoing war.

Alisa Gulyansky
Photo: Flickr

Popes help end international conflict
The Pope stands in the international arena as a unique authority without traditional elements of influence that countries hold. In place of an impressive military or a large economy, the Pope controls the hearts and minds of 1.28 billion Catholics globally.

Over the course of the past century, various Popes have stepped up in international discussions as mediators, condemned human rights violations and organized days of prayers and fasting for those caught in conflict zones. Here are the five most well-known examples of how Popes helped end international conflict.

Pope Benedict XV and WWI

Pope Benedict initially attempted to stop Italy from entering WWI and, when that failed, he offered papal peace mediation throughout the war. He wrote up the 1917 Papal Peace Appeal, which focused on free seas, war reparations, disarmament and Belgian independence. It emerged as a skeleton of a treaty that the leaders of the various states would expand upon, the negotiations in which “the Holy See would not necessarily itself be involved.” In the end, the Treaty of Versailles copied the points of the Papal Peace Appeal two years prior but excluded the Pope from talks.

Pope John Paul II and Poland’s Solidarity

As a native Pole, Pope John Paul became personally invested in the swift conclusion of martial law in Communist Poland in 1981. The Pope directed the Primate of Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister at the time, Wojciech Jaruzelski, to broker peace talks between the worker union Solidarity and the government. Additionally, John Paul II published a letter in which he substantiated this meeting and supported the goal of peace.

Pope John Paul II, Israel and Palestine

In 1993, after three years of negotiations, the Pope established diplomatic relations with Israel under the condition the country invite him to regional summits. When talks broke down between Israel and Palestine after the 1994 mosque massacre in the West Bank, the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin asked Pope John Paul II to help restart the discussions. Unfortunately, the Palestine Liberation Chairman, Yasser Arafat, rejected this offer of mediation due to his resolute stance that he would not resume talks unless the Israelis guaranteed that Palestinian women, children and holy sites would have protection. By 2000, the Holy See legitimized Palestinian territory, stopping just short of fully recognizing it. This put the Vatican on extremely good terms with both Israel and Palestine and strengthened its sway in the region.

Pope Francis, Israel and Palestine

In a continuation of the previous Pope’s work in the region, Pope Francis invited the leaders of Palestine and Israel to the Vatican for a day of prayer in 2014. He requested both sides to live in peace together, advocating for the two-state solution. Rather than force politically charged discussions, the Pope simply brought the two leaders together for a prayer summit followed by a private discussion. Years later, Francis’ 2018 Christmas Address further urged for peace in the region.

Pope Francis and South Sudan

South Sudan, with 70 percent of its population Christian, plunged into civil war in 2013 after an alleged coup that the vice president designed. Two years into the conflict, Pope Francis privately met with South Sudanese President Kiir in Uganda while he was visiting the region. In a similar manner to how other Popes helped end an international conflict before them, Francis aimed to create an open dialogue between the warring factions. In 2019, Pope Francis invited President Kiir to the Vatican to discuss and encourage the implementation of the 2019 ceasefire agreement.

By wielding their immense power in these five instances, these popes helped end international conflicts. At the very least, their efforts as a neutral party created opportunities for hostile forces to move towards peace. While this list highlights major interventions by recent popes, these men also influence international politics every day in extraordinarily subtle and powerful ways.

Daria Locher
Photo: Flickr