Remember our ‘silent and forgotten war’ pleads Archbishop
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, called on the international community and especially fellow Catholics not to forget the crisis in Ukraine. “This is a silent and forgotten war. Because it is a ‘frozen conflict,’ no one speaks loudly about the war in Ukraine anymore,” said the archbishop.
Shevchuk said that four years of fighting in eastern Ukraine have led to “the biggest humanitarian crisis on the European continent since the end of the Second World War.” United Nations data shows that since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, more than 10,000 people have been killed and 1.6 million people displaced. Although a long-term cease-fire exists in Ukraine, it was violated over 1,200 times in one week in July, reported Europe’s Special Monitoring mission in Ukraine.
The fighting has also damaged basic infrastructure, including hospitals, and caused an environmental disaster.“Besides all these casualties and human tragedies, there is still another hidden danger of the war in eastern Ukraine: This region is at risk of suffering a dire, long-lasting ecological catastrophe due to flooded mines and contaminated drinking water, which is comparable in scale to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster of 1986,” warned the archbishop. Up to 4 million people might be left without safe drinking water in the region, he added.
Faced with a growing humanitarian disaster, the Archbishop said the Catholic Church in Ukraine has responded with aid programmes. He was encouraged to see how both Roman and Greek Catholics work together in “serving one’s neighbour, taking care of the millions afflicted by the war, by providing them with spiritual guidance and often with social service as well.” He said it shows “a wonderful example of the unity of the Catholic Church in Ukraine, so much needed in Ukrainian society today.”
“Our society probably does not yet realize the full scale of trauma caused by the war and that is why we, as a Church need to invest so much of our energy and resources into the field of rehabilitation, in order to be able to heal the wounds of our people,” said Shevchuk. He added, “Charity is an antidote to egoism and indifference.” Warning about the dangers of “fake news” which he said has even affected developed countries in the West, Archbishop Shevchuk stated “Many specialists nowadays call this war in Ukraine a ‘hybrid war,’ that is, a war where not only traditional weapons are used on battlefields, but where all means of destruction, including economic and information warfare, are employed. Thanks to information technologies, modern wars are not limited to specific territories.” Please remember: it is not only our war — it is the war for humanity!” pleaded Shewchuk.