News came out that seven people were killed when a tank reportedly fired on a Caritas office in the besieged city of Mariupol. Two of them were Caritas staff. “We are deeply shocked. It looks like aid workers have become a direct target of Russian attacks”, says Cordaid CEO Kees Zevenbergen. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and their loved ones.”
The attack reportedly took place on March 15, but only reached us yesterday. Mariupol is heavily besieged and largely cut off from the outside world, seriously delaying communication.
The Caritas centre in Mariupol “was shot by a Russian tank. At that time, people were hiding from the shelling and looking for a safe place. Seven people died, including two of our accounting staff”, Caritas Ukraine posted on Twitter. Caritas Spes, also in Ukraine posted the following:
We received bad news: our Caritas office in #Mariupol was shot from a tank and people were there at the time. Seven people were killed, including two women staff members of @caritasmariupol. @SpesUkraine expresses its condolences to the parents of the innocent victims. pic.twitter.com/S27Gyxxdm2
— Caritas-Spes Ukraine (@SpesUkraine) April 11, 2022
Protect the protectors
“If the reports we receive are true, this is a serious violation of international law. The principles of international humanitarian law must be respected. Civilians can never be targeted. Precautions must be taken to spare civilian life and infrastructure. In the name of our sisters and brothers of Caritas in Ukraine, we implore all warring parties not only to ensure humanitarian access to zones under attack but also to ensure the protection of all humanitarian and medical staff”, Zevenbergen says.
Both Caritas Ukraine and Caritas Spes provide humanitarian assistance. Just like Cordaid, they belong to the international humanitarian catholic network of Caritas Internationalis.
Ever since the start of the war on February 24, Cordaid has been closely collaborating with Caritas colleagues in Ukraine and in the bordering countries to provide humanitarian assistance.