NEW YORK (PIX11) – Cardinal Timothy Dolan is back in New York after a recent trip to Europe where he met with Ukrainian refugees in Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia.
As part of his visit to Europe, Dolan wanted to raise awareness of the human cost and suffering that results from war. The war in Ukraine has led to a massive humanitarian and refugee crisis.
More than 5.7 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Poland has taken in most of those refugees, more than 3.1 million in total, the UN estimates.
“These people are suffering,” Dolan said. “But on the other hand … the grit, the resilience, the hope, the drive of those people was so uplifting for me.”
Dolan said he was encouraged to observe firsthand the international aid that has poured in to help the millions of Ukrainian refugees. Dolan toured warehouses filled with supplies of food, water, medicine, blankets and clothing.
“One of the reasons I went over there was to say ‘folks, you are not alone,’” Dolan said. “They let me know that sign of solidarity on behalf of all of you … helped them a lot.”
The original plan for Dolan’s trip was to visit just Poland and Slovakia, but he was able to enter Ukraine and spend 24 hours in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
“We didn’t see any signs of any attack or devastation, nor did we ever feel threatened,” Dolan said. “Literally the day after we left, Lviv came under attack. That doesn’t bode well for the future because if the Russian atrocities continue moving to the west, things are only going to get worse there.”
As the war rages on and the refugee crisis worsens, Dolan said humanitarian aid will continue to be essential.
“They were realistic to say, ‘if this war continues and these refugees keep coming, we’re going to run out of stuff.'” Dolan said. “The future — if this vicious attack continues — does not look bright.”