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“Kharkiv is under recurrent bombing and people fear for their lives!”

Explosive weapons

One month after the beginning of the new Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region, repeated shelling is taking its heavy toll on the population.

On 25 May 2024, air strikes hit a supermarket in the city of Kharkiv

On 25 May 2024, air strikes hit a supermarket in the city of Kharkiv | © HI 2024

On 10 May, Russia launched a new offensive in the Kharkiv region in the east of the country. According to Matteo Cavalieri, HI's Area manager for the east of Ukraine, the humanitarian situation there is "dire". The airstrikes hit military, strategic and civilian infrastructure throughout the oblast, particularly to the north and north-east of Kharkiv:  

"The most affected communities are those who live in the border regions under Russian control and those close to the front line. Another category of people affected are those who have not been evacuated but are in villages where access to humanitarian aid is severely restricted due to the recent shift in the front line. These people are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the humanitarian aid that was previously readily available to them".

According to the latest United Nations report, at least 18,000 people have fled the fighting between 10th of May and the 17th of June 2024 to take refuge in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city.

Medicines and hygiene products

On arrival in Kharkiv City, displaced people are cared for in coordination centres where they receive first aid, if necessary. HI's health teams in Ukraine offer psycho-social support both to people displaced by the fighting and their host communities. HI's Protection teams are also in these centres to assess the needs of the most vulnerable people and refer them to the services best suited to their needs. Roman Shinkarenko is in charge of HI's Protection project in the East of Ukraine:

"The people who have fled the fighting and arrived in Kharkiv are frightened. For the most part, they come from territories that have been under Russian control for a long time, but the fighting and bombing intensified suddenly last month, and it is this growing danger that has prompted them to flee. They are mainly adults, many of them elderly and some people with disabilities. Most of them are single. There are a large number of bed-ridden patients who need special care, diappers and medication. They are mainly asking for medical support, because some of them were receiving daily treatment and can no longer benefit from it".

Roman Shinkarenko also notes that a large number of displaced people are being accommodated in centres set up for this purpose, but that the number of places available is still limited. Many displaced people find themselves having to find alternative accommodation on their own.

"Our teams make every effort to follow up with beneficiaries after they have left these coordination centres, because we are never sure where they will go once they have left".

Getting humanitarian aid through as quickly as possible

At the same time, HI delivered 412 tons of humanitarian aid including 18 tons of refrigerated medical cargo, through its Atlas Logistique unit. 66 trucks filled with medecines, tents, tarpaulins and everything needed to make temporary shelters were also delivered to hard-to-reach areas of the oblast in link with the security situation.

"The displaced people need everything. They didn't take anything from home with them, no clothes, no medicines. At the moment, we are mainly transporting hygiene kits and medicines on behalf of other Ukrainian and international humanitarian organisations. For the transporters, the current situation is very stressful and difficult. The drivers are often under pressure from a possible air attack.  When we send trucks, we are never 100% sure in advance if we will have to tell the driver to stop on the way and take cover as quickly as possible. When this happens, we have to be very reactive, sometimes in only a couple of minutes, to try to keep them as safe as possible in this kind of situations Guaranteeing their safety is one of the biggest challenges we face” explains Vitalii Rabcheniuk, Atlas Logistique Project Manager.  

"Our teams have to take cover several times a day".

HI also provides humanitarian organizations with storage services in the city of Kharkiv:

"The Atlas Logistique storage centre is practically the only large-scale shared humanitarian logistics hub in Kharkiv, for other humanitarian organizations to benefit from this space to preposition and store humanitarian cargo rapidly. We have seen a marked increase in our daily work since 10th May. The first half of the day is devoted to shipments and arrivals, and the second half to preparing shipments for the following day. There are many requests for deliveries of hygiene products and food. We also have to adapt to the deteriorating security situation. Very often, and sometimes several times a day, our teams have to take cover in bomb shelters", explains Volodymyr Golovashchenko, Atlas Logistique's Storage Project manager.

The city of Kharkiv itself is the “scene of almost daily bombardments”, says Vitalii Rabcheniuk:

"There are also many power cuts, and people have to use generators. There is no constant supply of water either. The residents are under constant stress, fearing for their lives, precisely because of the bombings. Nobody feels safe".


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