12 April 2022, The Tablet

Seven dead as Caritas Ukraine offices destroyed by Russian fire

The attack has been condemned by Caritas Internationalis, which has reiterated their appeal for a peaceful solution.

Seven dead as Caritas Ukraine offices destroyed by Russian fire

Residents carrying their belongings walk past destroyed apartment buildings in the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, March 31, 2022.
CNS photo/Alexander Ermochenko, Reuters

As the battle for control of Mariupol in Southern Ukraine continues, the Catholic charity Caritas has reported the death of seven people sheltering at their Mariupol office when it was struck by a Russian tank. 

Two of the seven were Caritas employees, according to Caritas-spes, the charitable arm of the Latin-rite Catholic Church in Ukraine: five others were civilians seeking shelter. Although the news was announced on social media Monday April 11, the deaths themselves occured on March 15. The identities of those present in the building, according to Caritas, cannot presently be confirmed. 

The attack has been condemned by Caritas Europa and Caritas Internationalis, the European and international coalition of Catholic Charities respectively. “We join in grief and solidarity the suffering of the families and our colleagues of Caritas Ukraine who are living a tragedy,” the secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John, said in a statement issued by the organisation. The whole “Caritas family” was, he said, “horrified and shocked” by the deaths.

“The international community must do the impossible to stop this massacre immediately. Peace must be given a chance.” And “as we have been doing for 48 days now,” he said,  “Caritas Internationalis reiterates its incessant appeal for peace”.

Caritas Internationalis and her affiliate organisations have provided around 600,000 people with humanitarian assistance so far in the conflict. A confederation of 162 Catholic aid and charity organisations, Caritas Internationalis is active in around 200 countries worldwide.

Tetiana Stawnychy, president of Caritas Ukraine, the Greek-rite Catholic charity in the country, asked supporters for continued spiritual and financial support. “We need your solidarity and prayers for the families of the victims,” she said, “for the community of Caritas Mariupol, and the community of Caritas Ukraine.”

Mariupol, a coastal city in the south of Ukraine, has been under siege by Russian forces for well over a month. Local Ukrainian officials have claimed tens of thousands of deaths have resulted from street-to-street fighting that continues to the present.

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