The current political and military tensions in Ukraine could give rise to a social crisis with humanitarian consequences in the region. Malteser International is observing the situation and is ready to support its Ukrainian partners on the ground in case of escalation. “The number of people in need of relief in Ukraine continues to increase,” says Ingo Radtke, Malteser International Secretary General. “As state agencies cut back their support for social services due to the country’s weakened economy, many people are looking to the Ukrainian relief corps of the Order of Malta for help.”
Since December, the relief corps of the Order of Malta in Ukraine has run two field kitchens on Independence Square (Maidan), the main site of clashes between protesters and government troops in the capital city, Kiev. By the end of February, they had served 350,000 warm meals and 250,000 gallons of tea. The kitchens continue to operate nearly around the clock every day.
The Order’s relief organizations in neighboring countries are ready to provide assistance as needed. In the last weeks, the Order of Malta relief service in Poland supported the evacuation of injured Ukrainians, who were brought to Polish hospitals for treatment. Malteser Germany has also supported the Ukrainian organization for over 20 years; the field kitchens which were used in Maidan were given by the German relief organization in the 90s.
An escalation of the conflict could lead to the collapse of the Ukrainian Order of Malta relief corps’ social services to people in need in western and central Ukraine. “The poor, the sick, and persons with disabilities that benefit from the Order’s services could lose this vital support,” Radtke says. The financial situation of most Ukrainians has deteriorated dramatically since the start of the conflict. The organization has seen a strong decrease in donations.
The 200 volunteers and 15 staff of the Ukrainian Order of Malta relief corps provide a daily warm meal for 150 seniors in Lviv. In the city of Ivano-Frankiwsk, they provide regular care for 50 persons with disabilities. The organization also renovated and care for several children’s homes in West Ukraine. Last year’s Christmas campaign brought gifts to more than 8,000 children living in over 50 orphanages.
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