We are all shaken by the war that has just broken out in Ukraine. The news we are hearing since the beginning of the Russian invasion on 24th February fill us with great concern for the whole population, whose lives have suddenly been disrupted.
We are in contact with AIC volunteers on the ground. Most local groups are located in western Ukraine, which has been less affected so far. The AIC group in Kharkiv however, in the north-east, has been greatly affected by bombings.
At the beginning of the conflict in Kharkiv, the vice-president of AIC Ukraine took shelter under a church for ten days with other parish members. There was shelling outside and it was very difficult to find a means of transport to leave the city. Her house was burned during the bombing. The spiritual advisor of AIC Ukraine experienced the same situation in Odessa, in the southwest: the shelling and fighting all around made it almost impossible to go outside. Children were particularly frightened.
Together with about 30 AIC volunteers and families from the parish, the vice-president finally managed to organize a convoy of four cars and to leave Kharkiv, heading towards the west of the country. After a 1200 km journey, they arrived in Storozhynets, near the Romanian border, where the advisor met them. They were welcomed by another AIC group there, and were able to rest and regain their strength for a few days, before leaving again for Uzhhorod, at the Slovak border.
Some parishioners, especially those who were injured or had reduced mobility, were able to reach neighboring countries (Poland, Germany). In spite of the anxiety and exhaustion, the president, vice-president and other volunteers decided to stay in Ukraine to support the organization of humanitarian aid coming from AIC and the Vincentian Family. If this part of Ukraine were to be attacked as well, they would move to safety on the other side of the border.
For the time being, their activities consist mainly in moving women and children to safety by organizing their exit from the country towards Poland or Slovakia (where there are other AIC volunteer groups) and giving them some money to cover their first expenses. At the same time, they are supporting the men who have to stay in the country to be at the disposal of the army, trying to offer them decent living conditions and helping them to find a job or an occupation while waiting to be mobilized. Finally, they are supporting people who have not been able to leave the besieged areas by organizing the transport of basic goods to these areas, especially Kharkiv. They are also trying to facilitate their evacuation to safer places.
In concrete terms, the main needs are medicine, hygiene products, food (especially food that does not need to be cooked for men going to war), and blankets, sleeping bags, camp beds, etc.
There is a huge need for support and we already thank you for all the donations received, which have been sent directly to AIC volunteers.
To support AIC Ukraine, you can make a donation to the AIC bank account:
Bank account holder: Association Internationale des Charités Aisbl
Address: 23 Rampe des Ardennais – 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Bank address: 6 Place de l’Université – 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Account number: 001-6716147-40
IBAN (International Bank Account Number): BE02 0016 7161 4740
Attention: Please do not send cheques.
Article updated on 25th March 2022.