Taking risks to deliver relief to Ukraine’s displaced population

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Taking risks to deliver relief to Ukraine's displaced population

Source: AUN News

Kharkiv was pounded hard before dawn on February 24. Russian troops had arrived in the northern suburbs, roughly 30 kilometers from the Ukraine-Russia border, within 24 hours. The invading army could not enter the city despite outnumbering the Ukrainian soldiers.

“My family and I did not leave the underground metro station for two weeks, not even a minute.” The metro became the primary bomb shelter for the residents. I didn’t want to leave the city because my grandparents were still there. But when they arrived in Kharkiv, I chose to flee the fight.”

According to a recent IOM poll, over 28% of Ukraine’s estimated 6.8 million internally displaced individuals (IDPs) fled to the Kharkiv Region. The humanitarian needs of those who stayed or could not escape are enormous.

Areas ruled by Ukraine

The city received the first humanitarian convoy from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in May, carrying much-needed commodities for those residing in shelters and hospitals and hard-to-reach villages in Ukrainian-controlled territories.

“Locals require solar lamps because there is no light, mattresses, and blankets because shelters are damp and cold, tools for minor repairs to their damaged houses, and hygiene kits,” says Serhii, the head of Source of Revival, one of the region’s largest non-governmental organizations and IOM’s implementing partner in the Kharkiv Region.

The Source of Revival team’s working day began at 6 a.m. and concluded at 3 p.m. when a curfew was imposed, and all movement throughout the city was prohibited. Due to severe shelling, rockets, and air raids, the warehouses’ location had to be shifted multiple times.

Not all drivers decided to visit this hazardous location. The situation has deteriorated, and the number of victims has increased, but no one from the team has left Kharkiv. They wore ballistic jackets and protective helmets to provide IOM aid to individuals in desperate need.

‘Nothing is left alive’

Nadia, who now lives on the outskirts of Kharkiv, evacuated her house in Derhachi due to intense shelling immediately after finding out she was pregnant in March.

“Now, nothing is alive in Derhachi,” she recalls. “There is shelling here as well, although not as intense as in my hometown; however, when a missile hit a local school, we were forced to flee once more.”

“Some communities were destroyed. “There are numerous local Irpins and Buchan in our region,” a Revival staff member says, referring to two cities in Kyiv oblast that were taken by Russia at the outset of the war and where the evidence points to major human rights violations against people. Exploitation, ransom, kidnapping, robbery, bullying, torture, rape, and sexual assault against women, children, the elderly, and men.

All things have changed.

Humanitarian workers are assisting locals and locating those who a war has harmed. They can all visit the IOM center for physical and psychological healing.

More and more displaced people are arriving in Kharkiv lately as they fled the nearby Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Even Kharkiv residents are going home with optimistic aspirations despite the security situation.

Serhii, whose house was damaged by shelling, claims that “they want to reconstruct this site, but everything has changed.” “The region is still partially occupied, but the infrastructure is ruined, the homes are wrecked, and there is no work. Because Russian troops are attempting to approach the city, there is still a threat, and the bombardment is still erratic.

The number of civilian deaths in the Kharkiv Region over the past 181 days has reportedly exceeded 1,000, including 50 children. Calmness might be deceiving because anything can happen in a split second.

On August 18, within a single night, a missile strike on a residential neighborhood resulted in the deaths of 21 civilians and the injuries of 44 others. However, just as it was 79 years ago, the inhabitants still have a strong sense of identity and commitment to justice and their homeland.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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