Ukrainian archbishop warns that bombings have left people without heat in freezing temperatures.
Rome Newsroom, Mar 5, 2022 / 05:45 am (CNA).
In a video message on March 5, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk urged the international community to do everything possible so that humanitarian convoys can access cities where Russian shelling has cut off power and water to residential districts.
“When the enemy bombs cities, many buildings turn very quickly into cold traps without heat, without light, without water,” Shevchuk said from the besieged Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
The major archbishop expressed concern that “a humanitarian catastrophe is beginning” in Ukrainian cities that have been surrounded by Russian forces.
“Our thoughts are with Mariupol, Volnovakha, Kherson. The enemy is blocking and besieging large cities and is not giving the residents an opportunity to leave the city, does not give an opportunity to deliver food, and from above fly enemy bombs that sow death,” he said.
In the port city of Mariupol in the south of the Donetsk region, residents who have not fled the city have been without heat, electricity, or water for three days, the BBC reported
Russian troops who surround the city of half a million people have made it nearly impossible to bring in medicines and other critical supplies, though Russia’s Defense Ministry announced a brief “cease-fire” for this purpose early Saturday morning, according to the New York Times.
“Today I would like to support and address those who can truly help these people at the international level,” Shevchuk said.
“May humanitarian corridors be created. May there be green corridors of life so that the peaceful population might pass to safe places and humanitarian convoys might bring those people food, warmth, and human solidarity.”
Shevchuk pointed out that Kharkiv, an industrial city of nearly 1.5 million people in northeastern Ukraine, has been receiving quite a bit of snowfall as Ukrainian forces fought to defend the city from the Russian military.
“Our thoughts were with Kharkiv, where almost 20 cm of snow fell, but during the night there were again heard the sounds of enemy aviation and once more enemy bombs carrying death and destruction flew at a peaceful city,” the archbishop said.
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with Rome, noted that he was speaking on the tenth day of the full-scale Russian invasion of his homeland.
Caritas Internationalis has launched an emergency appeal to provide humanitarian relief to Ukraine through its Ukraine-based charities.
Shevchuk expressed gratitude to the Catholic parishes that have organized to provide social services because parishioners volunteered to help those in need.
“I address once more the international community: let us do everything possible to stop this war. O God, save Ukraine! O God, send people wisdom and intelligence, so that dialogue might prevail over war. O God, bless all of us,” he said.