Prince Charles visits Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral to offer help

LONDON (CNS) — Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has visited the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London to find out how he could help in the humanitarian crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine.

The Prince and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were greeted by Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family at London Cathedral on March 2 with Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian Ambassador in the UK, and his wife, Inna Prystaïko.

They met Ukrainian aid workers and children who presented them with handmade placards in the yellow and blue colors of the Ukrainian flag, some of which carried messages such as: “Save Ukraine”, “Stop Putin” and ” Stop the war”.

According to reports in the British media, Prince Charles gave a short speech in the cathedral, in which he praised “the extraordinary bravery, generosity and courage of the Ukrainian community” in the face of the ongoing invasion of the Ukraine by Russia.

The couple were accompanied by representatives of humanitarian charities of which Prince Charles is a patron or supporter, including the British Red Cross, World Jewish Relief, In Kind Direct, the International Rescue Committee and International Health Partners.

Shortly before their departure, the Prince and Duchess placed two sunflowers, Ukraine’s national flower, on the altar.

In a press conference at the cathedral shortly after, Canadian-born Bishop Nowakowski said the visit was a “very important day” for the Ukrainian community.

He told reporters that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall wanted to “express their solidarity with the people of Ukraine”.

“They had the opportunity to be in the cathedral to light candles and say a prayer, then they joined us in our auditorium, where they were able to meet Ukrainian volunteers who have worked very hard since the beginning of the war. eight years ago, but especially in the last few days – organizing humanitarian packages, organizing rallies and being with other people.

“What I think is most meaningful to me is that the prince has also encouraged a few of the humanitarian organizations he sponsors to join us as well,” he continued, adding that Charles wanted people make donations to humanitarian organizations helping refugees and other victims. of the conflict.

He said: “The fact that they spent so much time reassuring us and expressing their solidarity with us, it was a very important day for us.”

Olesya Khromeychuk, director of the Ukrainian Institute London, told the press conference that it was difficult to estimate how many people would flee Ukraine and need humanitarian aid and sanctuary.

“You’ve probably all heard an estimate of 4 million or something like that,” said Khromeychuk, whose brother was killed fighting Russian troops in 2017, “and I saw in passing that the numbers go up. currently at 800,000”.

“It depends on what happens in Ukraine,” she said.

Khromeychuk said Russian forces were not only firing missiles from inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the scene of a disastrous explosion in 1986, but were also bombarding a southeastern region of the country that is home to the most largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

She said if the factory was hit it would be a disaster for all of Europe and trigger a large movement of refugees from Ukraine.

She also said many others would also flee floods resulting from any Russian moves to destroy hydroelectric power plants and dams previously destroyed by the Soviets and Nazis during World War II.

But a general Russian occupation was enough to cause a refugee crisis, she added.

“We know what the Russian occupation looks like, we have been living with it for eight years in Crimea and Donbass,” she said. “In the Donbass there is a concentration camp… I have never heard descriptions of such brutality in my life.

“We know what the occupation looks like, and people will leave if it happens for obvious reasons.

“This is another reason why civilians take up arms. Absolutely, they are totally brave and I am fascinated by how Ukrainians have united to defend their cities. But there is nothing to celebrate that civilians feel the desperate need to arm themselves,” she said.

“It means they are alone and they feel alone, and no one will come to help them.”

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