Pope Francis exclaimed on Palm Sunday, “Let the weapons be put down! Let the Easter truce begin.” The Easter miracle we need now is a cease fire for the war in Ukraine, a ceasefire that leads to negotiations between Russia and Ukraine for a lasting peace treaty.
As Pope Francis emphasized for Ukraine and Russia, “a truce that will lead to peace, through real negotiation, that is even disposed to some sacrifice for the good of the people.”
This senseless war has to end. Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is targeting civilians and killing them daily. Millions of Ukrainians have been forced from their homes, trying to flee the Russian army. These families have lost their livelihoods, and it may take years to recover and rebuild.
The war is also leading to a global hunger crisis that places millions at risk of starvation in countries far away from the battlefield.
All of this is happening because of one man’s greed and cruelty: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yet Putin could stop it all and withdraw his troops from Ukraine. Instead Putin is continuing a war that is leveling cities and killing civilians.
Pope Francis recognizes what every good leader does, “What victory is there in planting a flag on a pile of rubble?”
Russia has nothing to gain from the war. They are losing lives on the battlefield, and their economy is being leveled by the sanctions and the costs of their evil, ruthless war. Putin has to stop the war, and the sooner the better for everyone including his own people.
There must be a ceasefire in Ukraine for Easter to allow humanitarian aid to reach war victims.
Russia’s siege of Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities has left civilians without food, water and other basics they need to survive. A ceasefire should allow humanitarian aid convoys to bring supplies to the starving Ukrainians and also carry out evacuations. Russia’s recent attack on Mariupol killed more civilians and aid workers from the charity Caritas, an example of why a ceasefire is needed.
Ending the war in Ukraine will save lives even thousands of miles away. Ukraine is a major global supplier of wheat. The war has cut off this precious supply of food. Farmers cannot grow food in a war zone.
Alternative sources of food must be found, and this increases costs. The UN World Food Program (WFP), which gets a lot of its supplies from Ukraine, says its monthly expenses have increased dramatically since the war began. This is a tragedy because the program was already having trouble funding the many large relief operations they are undertaking. In Yemen, WFP had to reduce rations for 8 million war victims even before the war in Ukraine began.
Food prices are skyrocketing globally. Ending the war in Ukraine is a step to preventing famine in the Middle East and Africa.
Everyone can do something to support peace in Ukraine and echo the call for a truce by Pope Francis. Those of us with the means can donate to charities providing relief to Ukraine’s war victims, including WFP, CARE, International Committee of the Red Cross, Save the Children and Catholic Relief Services. They need funding for Ukraine relief and to help other nations at risk of famine because of the ongoing conflict.
This Easter, pray the guns go silent in Ukraine and peace begins.
William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program on the book “Ending World Hunger.”