Ukraine: Safe Passage #3

29 / Apr / 2022 03 / May / 2022

Mission Logbook

In Kiev two days of meetings of the Safe Passage Mission with the associative, religious and diplomatic world.
"It will be impossible to erase from our memory what we have seen and heard in the last two days here in Kiev." This is how Sara Alawia, spokesperson for the Mediterranea Saving Humans Mission, recounts the Safe Passage convoy's stay in Ukraine's capital.
Having arrived on Saturday evening to transfer the humanitarian aid collected by the Municipality of Bologna to the city of Kharkiv, yesterday - Sunday - and this morning Mediterranea activists alternated the delivery of another three tonnes of medicines and food with a series of important meetings.

Yesterday with the Ukrainian pacifist movements of the Non Violence International Network: "They told us that, at the moment, they are under attack and therefore forced to resist," explains Sara Alawia, "but that, for the future, we must commit ourselves to building cultures and practices of non-armed conflict resolution."

Then the appointment with the Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine, Monsignor Visvaldas Kulbokas who, committed to carrying out Pope Francis' peace initiative, has never left Kiev. "The Nuncio," explains Denny Castiglione, head of Mediterranea's mission, "told us about his visit to Bucha and the horror of the mass graves, he showed us the Bible recovered from the hands of a civilian who had been executed, of the bodies of tortured people he had seen with his own eyes. A harrowing tale that, along with the images of the bombed-out suburbs we passed through on our way into the city, we will never forget."

"In the centre instead," Sara Alawia continues, "the situation is surreal, at times a ghostly silence, those who stayed in Kiev prefer to stay at home, it is difficult to think of a normal life."

From the Nunciature, the caravan of six vans moved on to the All Ukranian Youth Centre, one of the country's ninety cultural youth centres that has quickly converted into a collection and distribution point for aid, food in particular, to be delivered to the communities closest to the front line. "They thanked us for the solidarity from below that we brought," says the Safe Passage spokeswoman. "Some young people have been sleeping in the centre for weeks and have confirmed their willingness to resist an unjustified aggression, even though they fear there could be a further escalation of the conflict in the coming days."

On the morning of today - Monday - the Italian Ambassador Pier Francesco Zazo paid a visit to the caravan, expressing all the willingness of Italian diplomacy to facilitate Mediterranea's humanitarian missions in Ukraine, also in the perspective of a more continuous intervention.

The presence in Kiev ended with a highly symbolic meeting: Safe Passage was the first Italian humanitarian caravan to be received by Metropolitan Epifanio, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church: "The Metropolitan," reported Denny Castiglione, "strongly denounced the criminal role of the tyrant Putin in the aggression against the Ukrainian people, but also insisted on how inter-religious dialogue and civil society initiatives can open the way for the achievement of a just peace.

The convoy is now facing the difficult journey back to Lviv, where the transfer of some of the most vulnerable refugee families to reception in Italy will be organised.

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