‘How long, Lord?’ the archbishop implores in the service of Ukrainians in Poland

During Sunday Mass in the Polish border town of Przemysl, Ukrainian-speaking Greek Catholics listened as their archbishop asked the questions on many people’s lips since Russia invaded Ukraine more than two weeks ago.

“How long, Lord?” Bishop Eugeniusz Popowicz said during his sermon at the Greek Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Przemysl, which was home to 60,000 people before the Russian-Ukrainian war, is the first stop for many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have crossed the border from Ukraine into Poland in recent days.

“Why have we suffered such a fate? Why is everyone watching and not closing the sky to stop the deadly rockets,” he told the congregation of about 100 people, including many from the Polish Ukrainian community who previously lived there. Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on February 24, sending millions fleeing to other cities or abroad while trapping others in besieged towns.

While Western nations have sought to isolate Putin by imposing harsh sanctions, the United States and its allies are keen to avoid NATO being drawn into the conflict – a reason given against imposing a zone. no-fly over Ukraine. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a special military operation to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbor.

At a school in Przemysl turned into a shelter, Ludmyla, a 38-year-old refugee who did not give her last name, rested after fleeing with her parents and children from the eastern city of Kharkiv. Ukraine, which has been the target of heavy fire. She said she waited seven hours to enter Poland. “When I arrived here I was shocked that there were no queues to buy bread,” she said. In Kharkiv, there were queues that lasted for hours, she said.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, reported on Sunday that nearly 2.7 million people had fled Ukraine on Saturday, including nearly 1.7 million heading to Poland. Poland reported 79,800 arrivals on Saturday alone, Romania 16,676, Slovakia 10,307 and Hungary 10,630, authorities in each country said on Sunday. The numbers were similar to or slightly higher than the previous day but lower than the peaks seen earlier.

A Russian missile attack on a major Ukrainian military installation near the border with NATO member Poland on Sunday killed 35 people and injured 134, a Ukrainian official said. CRISIS FATIGUE

Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed with open arms in neighboring Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, with thousands of volunteers, non-governmental organizations as well as government agencies and local communities providing food, shelter, clothing, transport and cell phone cards. Thousands of people have welcomed refugees into their homes. Ukrainian children began to attend schools, and governments took steps to allow refugees to bypass standard procedures to allow them to work.

But over time and the ability to absorb this influx of people, there have been many warnings across the region that the first bout of support could turn sour. Lajos Gyori-Dani, vice-president of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta which manages the reception of refugees at the Beregsurany border post, said in an interview with the 24.hu news site on Sunday that the support of the audience would decrease.

“We are aware that soon the main task will not be welcoming refugees, but helping them to integrate, to help them in their daily lives. We also know that the size of donations will decrease, so we must be prepared to the long-term task knowing that the company’s current support will last a maximum of 3 months,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Helen D. Jessen