Ukraine celebrates one year of invasion with more than 200,000 people dead, 40,000 wounded, almost 2,700 schools bombed and 500 destroyed. These are some of the figures left by the conflict in Ukraine in these 12 months with more than 900 attacks counted. Nearly 18 million people need urgent humanitarian aid to live and more than 5.5 million schoolchildren have had their education interrupted by the war.
Millions of lives were changed forever on 24 February last year. "When the bombing started so did the water, electricity and gas cuts. We couldn't wash and it was difficult to get food", recalls Boris, who fled Mariupol, "a city that no longer exists because it is burnt and destroyed".
The Salesian missionaries have been by the side of the population from the very beginning, accompanying and welcoming refugees in the border countries and helping displaced people in Ukraine. In recent months, the bombings have been compounded by the winter, with temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius, which have increased the needs. For this reason, Salesian Missions has set up the Winterization project, coordinated from Warsaw, to face the needs of winter in the context of the war that the country is experiencing.
Thanks to the aid received, Salesian schools in Lviv, Odessa and Kiev have managed to stay open and offer education in emergency situations with the construction of shelters, reinforcement of insulation and support for water, electricity and gas supplies, psychological support for students, teachers and families, and to cover school costs.
More than one hundred humanitarian aid projects, both material and psychological support, assistance, education and leisure activities for minors have been developed in this year of conflict by Salesian missionaries in Ukraine and bordering countries. Salesian Missions has sent more than 500,000 euros to support the affected population and Salesian works in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
Aid has also reached Ukraine through more than 20 humanitarian convoys over the last twelve months with basic necessities to be distributed among the population assisted by the Salesians. The logistics centre in Lviv enables the distribution of food and non-perishable goods to nine cities in the country, including the conflict zones further east.
"We will continue to help in any way necessary, but we hope that the war will soon be over so that humanitarian aid can be replaced by aid to rebuild the country", says Krzysztof Grzendzinski, the Salesian responsible for the Emergency Coordination Team in Ukraine.