Braving Mines and Missiles to Help Displaced Ukrainians |

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Before dawn on February 24, Kharkiv received a fierce blow. Within 24 hours, Russian troops had reached the northern suburbs, just 30 kilometers from the Ukrainian-Russian border. Although outnumbered by the Ukrainian forces, the invading army was unable to enter the city.

“I come from Kharkiv, from the largest residential area in Ukraine – Saltivka, where about 400,000 people lived before the war,” says Tania, 21, who found temporary accommodation in the Ivano-Frankivsk region and participated in a Summer School run by the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM), for young leaders among displaced people and members of host communities.

“For two weeks, my family and I did not leave the underground metro station, even for a minute. The subway became the main bomb shelter for the residents. I didn’t want to leave town because my grandparents stayed. But when they came to see us in Kharkiv, I decided to run away from the war.

According to a recent IOM survey, around 28% of the approximately 6.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine fled the Kharkiv region. The humanitarian needs of those who chose to stay or were unable to flee are immense.


assistance not only to communities, but also directly to particularly vulnerable people.” alt=”NGOs provide IOM assistance not only to communities, but also directly to particularly vulnerable people.” width=”100%” height=”” loading=”lazy”/>

Source of the NGO Revival

NGOs provide IOM assistance not only to communities, but also directly to particularly vulnerable people.

In May, the city received IOM’s first humanitarian convoy with essential items for people staying in shelters and hospitals, as well as for hard-to-reach communities in areas under Ukrainian control.

“Residents need solar lamps as there is no light, mattresses and blankets as it is damp and cold in the shelters, tools for minor repairs to their damaged homes and hygiene kits. “says Serhii, the head of Source of Revival, one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the region and implementing partner of IOM in the Kharkiv region.

In the early months of the war, the workday for the Source of Revival team began at 6 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m., when a curfew was established and all movement within the city was prohibited. . The location of the warehouses had to be changed several times due to heavy shelling, missiles and airstrikes.

Not all drivers agreed to go to this dangerous area. The situation has since worsened, the number of victims is increasing, but no one in the team has left Kharkiv. They donned bulletproof vests and hard hats to bring IOM assistance to those who need it most.


Nadia (right) discovered she was pregnant during the heavy shelling of Kharkiv Oblast in eastern Ukraine.

Source of the NGO Revival

Nadia (right) discovered she was pregnant during the heavy shelling of Kharkiv Oblast in eastern Ukraine.

“There’s nothing alive anymore”

Nadia, who currently lives on the outskirts of Kharkiv, fled her home in the town of Derhachi due to heavy shelling shortly after discovering she was pregnant in March.

“Now there is nothing alive in Derhachi,” she recalls. “There is also shelling here, but not as fierce as in my hometown; then, when a missile hit a nearby school, we moved again.

Source of Revival brought bespoke humanitarian aid from IOM directly to her temporary home as it was particularly difficult for a pregnant woman to move around the dangerous town.

The hardest part of the team’s job is bringing aid to communities that survived the Russian occupation. Although it takes time to clear the area after Ukrainian forces recapture it, NGOs are working to reach people in need as quickly as possible.

“Some settlements have been razed. There are a lot of local Irpins and Buchas in our area,” said a Source of Revival staff member, referring to two towns in the Russian-occupied Kyiv Oblast at the start of the war, where evidence indicates that serious human rights violations are being committed against civilians. Exploitation, kidnapping for ransom, theft, intimidation, torture, rape and sexual abuse of women, children, the elderly and men.


IOM assistance is reaching affected communities across Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine.

Source of the NGO Revival

IOM assistance is reaching affected communities across Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine.

‘Everything changed’

Aid workers assist local residents and identify victims of conflict-related violence. Everyone can go to the IOM physical and psychosocial rehabilitation centre.

Lately, Kharkiv has been hosting an increasing number of displaced people fleeing the neighboring regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. And, despite the security situation, even the people of Kharkiv are returning home with high hopes.

“They want to rebuild this place, but everything has changed,” says Serhii, whose house was damaged by the shelling. “Infrastructure is damaged, houses are destroyed, there are no works and part of the region is still occupied. Russian troops are trying to close in on the city, so the threat remains and the chaotic shelling continues.

According to the authorities, more than 1,000 civilians in the Kharkiv region have been killed in the past 181 days, including 50 children, and this figure could increase. The calm is deceptive here, and the situation can change in the blink of an eye.

In a single night, August 18, 21 civilians died and 44 were injured following a missile attack on a residential area. Nevertheless, as was the case 79 years ago, the people believe in their land and in their justice, revealing the same strength and character as their ancestors.

“I draw power from my team. I understand that most of them could leave Kharkiv, but they stayed. They are the first to put on vests, helmets and go to help others,” says Serhii.


Kharkiv Oblast in eastern Ukraine continues to suffer from chaotic shelling.

Source of the NGO Revival

Kharkiv Oblast in eastern Ukraine continues to suffer from chaotic shelling.

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