After taking up a collection earlier this year to aid families affected by the ongoing crisis in Eastern Ukraine, Pope Francis has decided to distribute an initial sum of 6 million euros to different charity projects as a Christmas gift.
“In the name of the Holy
Father, at Christmas the first installment of the aid for the
humanitarian crisis in Ukraine will be paid,” a Dec. 23 communique from
the Pontifical Council Cor Unum read.
The sum of nearly 6 million
euro is only part of the 12 million that’s been collected since April,
and is destined for more than 2 million people “without distinction of
religion, faith or ethnic background.”
It will go to projects that assist people currently living in
the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk, which
have been hit hardest by the conflict.
The funds were raised in
large part as the result of Pope Francis’ decision to take up an April
24 collection in all the Catholic parishes of Europe to promote
humanitarian support for all those suffering or displaced due to the
fighting in eastern Ukraine.
After the collection, the Pope in
June entrusted the Vatican’s charity council Cor Unum, with the task of
forming a committee, which was given a year-long mandate, to decipher
the most urgent needs and to get the help to where it’s most required.
by Bishop Jan Sobilo, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of
Kharkiv-Zaporizhia, the committee, headquartered in Zaporizhia, has been
working alongside the Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine, Archbishop Claudio
According to the communique, from the moment the
committee began their work in July members have “chosen and evaluated
the aid projects” presented to them by both Christian charity
organizations and by international agencies.
Now, having made
their decisions, the committee will use the funds to finance 20
“large-scale” projects with individual contributions of up to 250,000
euros, as well as 39 initiatives “of solidarity” for amounts of up to
The total sum of 6 million, according to the
communique will be distributed with the help of the apostolic nunciature
in Ukraine and will support projects that offer assistance “in the
areas of food, housing, medicine and hygiene.”
Conflict erupted in Ukraine in November 2013, when the former
government refused to sign the Association Agreement with the European
Union, leading to months of violent protests.
Tensions deepened in
February 2014, when the country’s former president was ousted following
the protests, and a new government appointed. In March of that year,
Ukraine’s eastern peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia, and
pro-Russian separatists have since taken control of eastern portions of
Several attempts at a ceasefire have fallen through, and fighting continues to ravage Ukraine’s eastern regions.
to a recent report from the Office of the High Commissioner of the
United Nations for Human Rights (OHCHR), from its beginning in April
2014 to December 2016, the conflict has so far caused 9,758 deaths and
More than 2 million others have been forced to
flee due to violence and a lack of basic humanitarian necessities such
as food and medicine.
Those who have fled to other areas of the country
often can’t find work or adequate housing, leaving them largely
dependent on charity.