For a majority of Ukrainians Easter is a special and most joyous holiday; a time for families to come together and share a heartwarming celebration. Ukraine’s beautiful Easter traditions are elaborate and deeply intertwined with a strong tradition of family and community togetherness.

On behalf of the United Nations in Ukraine, and the World Health Organization in particular, we extend our warmest wishes to all those observing the Easter and to offer our message:

This year we live in a time like no other, a time when hugs, handshakes and large gatherings are ill advised due to health risks. We call on every family in Ukraine: share the mood, not the virus!

Put the health and wellbeing of your loved ones and community first. Please, stay at home. More than ever, we can make use of modern technology to reconnect with relatives and friends living far and close.

This year, more than any other, let us recall that faith is guided by universal values and ethical principles of “do no harm” and “solidarity”. We look to religious leaders as important role models to lead the way in showing how communities can still maintain connections by conducting faith activities in alternative ways. This is the time for all of us to ensure a safe environment for people within our families and communities.

UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez reminds in this period of celebrations for Christians as well as other faiths to “spare a special thought for heroic health workers on the frontlines battling this awful virus – and all those working to keep our cities and towns going…remember the most vulnerable of the vulnerable… renew our faith in one another and draw strength from the good that is gathering in troubled times as communities of diverse faiths and ethical traditions unite to care for one another. Together, we can and will defeat this virus – with cooperation, solidarity, and faith in our common humanity”.

Guidance from the World Health Organization

WHO guidance below acknowledges the special role of religious leaders, faith based organizations, and faith communities in COVID-19 education, preparedness, and response, through different ways like sharing evidence-based information about COVID19, avoiding large group gatherings and conducting faith-related activities alternatively, as required and whenever possible; ensuring that any decision to convene group gatherings for worship, education, or social meetings is based on a sound risk assessment and in line with guidance from national and local authorities; strengthening mental and spiritual health, wellbeing and resilience. All these actions can be taken to strengthen a global response in saving lives and reducing illness related to COVID-19 pandemic. For practical recommendations, please, see the guidance below developed by WHO with contributions of various global religious and inter-religious groups.

See WHO guidance here:

Photo: UN Ukraine/ A. Krepkikh, V. Shuvayev