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Ukraine: Shevchuk, “forgotten war”, “13,000 people killed in 5 years” but “real figures are at least double”

(Foto Siciliani-Gennari/SIR)

According to official data, 13,000 people have been killed in 5 years, “but the real figures are at least double” this number. His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, spoke about the war in Ukraine at a press conference held at Vatican Radio after the meeting with the Pope. He called the ongoing war in his country “a hybrid war” – in the words of Card. Parolin -, a  “forgotten war” that “does not always touch the hearts of Europeans”. “To break this silence”, Pope Francis launched “The Pope for Ukraine” mission, the Archbishop recalled, by which he intends to support above all child victims of war. Archbishop Shevchuk insisted on the humanitarian aspect: “In the conflict area – has said, speaking about the Donbass mines – the ecological situation is getting worse. Water is polluted in the mines, and almost 4 million people have lost access to drinking water”. Furthermore, the area is highly polluted by explosive material, and “thousands of children are exposed daily” to the risk of having their limbs amputated for coming into contact with this material. “They are often taken abroad to receive prostheses and appropriate care”, Archbishop Shevchuck said, pointing to the need for rehabilitation to be developed in Ukraine, even “through agreements with the Bambino Gesù Hospital”, which can dispatch medical staff to the affected areas. Another emerging problem in the country is emigration: “One million citizens leave Ukraine every year, which causes depopulation”, the archbishop warned: “It is mainly young people and professionals who seek a better life elsewhere”. This is an economic and demographic problem, as well as “a pastoral problem for us”, Archbishop Shevchuck remarked: “We need to ask ourselves how we can accompany these people in their host countries, how we can help them maintain their Christian identity”. With regard to ecumenism, Ukraine wants to be a “laboratory”, as John Paul II called it in 2001: “We do not want to be an obstacle to, but rather catalysts for ecumenism”, Archbishop Shevchuck said: “for us dialogue is the only alternative to conflict”, even if after the creation of a new autocephalous Church in Russia, “our Orthodox brethren have become a bit more closed”. 71% of Ukrainians are Orthodox, Greek Catholics account for 14.1% of the population, while 18% of Ukrainians say they have no religion.

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