Caritas partners in Ukraine detail a new wave of displacement

A child holds a teddy amid the destruction. Photo Credit: Elisabeth Sellmeier for Caritas Vienna.

Caritas Australia’s partners in Ukraine report intensified hostilities in front-line areas and border communities, triggering a new wave of displacement as security concerns heighten and aid becomes harder to deliver.

Since the start of the year hundreds of apartments have been destroyed or damaged, alongside many schools and kindergartens, while damage to critical infrastructure has led to disrupted gas and electricity supplies. Health facilities and personnel have also been impacted, with 68 documented attacks on healthcare in Ukraine so far in 2024.

Caritas Australia partners said current attacks are “aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation in front-line communities while also impacting people living further from the areas of active hostilities.”

One report detailed damage in Sumska Oblast, a frontline town in Northeast Ukraine with a population of over one million, that has come under intense fire. During a seven-day period in March damage to over 80 single-family houses and multistorey buildings was recorded, with part of the town left without heating and hot water supplies. In March, the area reaches temperature highs of 4 degrees Celsius, with lows of -5. As a result, 1,800 families have been evacuated from the area. Supporting these people with emergency shelter and food is a focus for Caritas Ukraine.

Despite these challenging circumstances the Caritas network continues to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid. Caritas-Spes does so via 54 aid centres, having helped around 30,000 people in 2024, and over one million since the start of the war. Caritas Ukraine has 44 centres supporting over 75,000 Ukrainians so far this year and over three million since the start of the war.

Aid efforts are focused on immediate needs such as access to food, clean water, healthcare, and emergency shelter, alongside longer-term needs such as housing repairs, psychosocial support, support for host communities and assistance for those resettling.

Caritas-Spes and Caritas Ukraine are also working together to lead the newly formed Advancing Caritas Through Solidarity project, which will see them host four face-to-face events focused on upskilling volunteers, sharing skills, and developing manuals. Caritas Ukraine alone has around 9,300 volunteers, 30% of whom are internally displaced people.

Sally Thomas Humanitarian Emergencies Lead at Caritas Australia said “As fighting escalates along border towns we are seeing mass evacuations, creating challenges for displaced people and the communities hosting them. The need is especially acute for vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, and those with disabilities.”

“Our partners are helping the displaced with accommodation, psychosocial support, multipurpose cash assistance, and the provision of child friendly spaces. Educational catch-up services are also a focus for children, as we attempt to protect their futures despite the ongoing conflict.”