ACN support for war-stricken Ukrainians reaches $5M

FIVE MONTHS AFTER THE INVASION OF UKRAINE BY RUSSIAN TROOPS, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) takes stock of the support sent to the country: more than $5M in emergency aid and in the form of other initiatives to help the Catholic Church of both rites in its gargantuan effort to remain with its people.

Following initial immediate aid packages, ACN pledged a further $2.5M over the past three months, from May to July, to help the Church in Ukraine. With the approval in July of 34 new projects, support provided by ACN has reached $5M in 2022.

“The worst consequences of the war will not be felt in the short-term: the psychological, physical and humanitarian effects will only become apparent later. Only God can heal the deeper wounds, but we can try to soften the more immediate needs and support the local Church so that it can remain on the ground,” said Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International.

Thanks to the help of ACN benefactors, priests and religious can offset shortages of food, and basic hygiene and medical products felt by many of the internally displaced people. Furthermore, they can provide psychological and spiritual support to all those who are traumatized from losing their homes or loved ones,” added Heine-Geldern.

“We are in daily contact with the whole country,” said Magda Kaczmarek, who has overseen ACN’s projects in Ukraine for the past 14 years. “In this way we can identify the projects that the local Church considers to be a priority and be flexible in our monthly aid.”

“There is tremendous pain,” continued Kaczmarek, who visited Ukraine in April. “It was a very emotional experience. We met with refugees who did nothing but cry. It was important just to hug them. But there were also refugees who were completely dumbstruck. I remember one young man, who must have been around 30, who had not said one word since the war started.”

“The Church is the anchor that keeps the boat steady through the changing tides,” said Kaczmarek. “The main concern and fear that everybody feels has to do with the coming of winter, but now they are also worried that by the end of August the shortage of food and fuel will have become even more serious,” she explained.

Thanks to the generosity of ACN benefactors from all over the world, ACN has provided $5M worth of aid, disbursed in various stages. The projects carried out during the first five months of the war include:

$3.2M in emergency and subsistence aid, divided as follows:

  • $1.3M sent to the ecclesiastical districts in Ukraine, right after the outbreak of the war, to offset the most urgent needs
  • $800,000 in aid to Ukrainian priests, in the form of Mass stipends to cover, for example, subsistence costs, travel and their pastoral and social work
  • $650,000 towards a total of 14 projects, to enable dioceses and religious orders to host internally displaced people in parishes, convents, seminaries, etc.
  • $450,000 for subsistence aid, across 17 projects, especially for the male and female religious and to support elderly or sick nuns

$1.1M for a total of 23 projects, towards construction, restoration and refurbishing of buildings, such as the repairs to the seminary in Vorzel, on the outskirts of Kyiv, which was looted in the first phase of the war, or the purchase of 17 generators.

$600,000 to purchase 29 heavy-duty vehicles, a priority at this time, since humanitarian aid must be transported long distances over roads that are in poor condition or destroyed.

$100,000 for 21 small pastoral projects, for example 60 Mass cases for liturgical celebrations, and training and media projects.

“The churches have opened their doors to everyone and now host thousands of internally displaced people in all dioceses. However, this represents a financial challenge The lion’s share of the money covers the basic costs, such as electricity, water, heating, and so on,” Kaczmarek explained. “During these five months we have been able to give plenty of help, and we will continue to do so. We need to provide our people with hope.”.

Founded in 1947 as a Catholic organization to aid war refugees, and recognized as a Pontifical charity in 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians all over the world, wherever they suffer from persecution, discrimination, or material needs, through prayer, information, and charity.

With offices in 23 countries, ACN approves an average of 6,000 projects every year in some 150 countries, all thanks to private donations since the organization does not receive any state help.

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