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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
22 May 2024

Resilience amidst ruin: the unbreakable spirit of Kharkiv

A woman sitting on a park bench seen from the back, in the background ruined buildings.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)

"Unbreakable" best describes Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. It has faced almost daily Russian shelling since the beginning of the full-scale war. Aerial bombs, missiles, and drones have destroyed infrastructure, devastated residential buildings, and claimed countless lives. Emergency blackout schedules have been implemented both in the city and the region. However, despite the imminent danger, residents are refusing to leave the city of Kharkiv. 

In fact, as Russia launched its new offensive in May 2024, Kharkiv city has once again become a beacon of hope, providing shelter and support to thousands of people fleeing the eastern and northern parts of the region. Despite facing the brutal reality of war daily, the people of Kharkiv remain strong, united, and determined to protect their city and themselves. 

With the assistance of the Czech NGO 'People in Need' (PIN), the European Union supports Kharkiv residents, helping them rebuild their homes and refurbish bomb shelters in schools.

View of a street with ruined buildings
The need for humanitarian aid in Kharkiv and the Kharkiv Oblast is extremely high and continues to grow daily. The EU and PIN have identified 3,659 families needing light and medium home repairs in this region. 1,386 repairs have been already completed.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
Larysa and her husband standing in front of a window looking outside.
Larysa, 59, lives with her husband in northern Saltivka, a long-suffering district of Kharkiv that was among the first to endure the most of Russian attacks in 2022. Larysa’s apartment was among those damaged, losing most of its windows.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
Larysa standing on her balcony, seen from within the house through the window.
In March 2023, unable to restore her apartment on her own, Larysa turned to People in Need for assistance. Within a month, thanks to funding from the European Union, all the windows in her apartment were replaced.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
A builder working in a kitchen, holding a broken window to be replaced.
Broken windows are one of the most common problems for residents of buildings fortunate enough to withstand the Russian strikes. Replacing them can be an impossible financial burden for local families, making international assistance crucial.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
View of a staircase filled with broken windows.
Following shelling, people often resort to covering their windows with plywood and film, enduring such conditions for many months due to their inability to afford replacements.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
Dmytro standing in front of a window. The glass is being held together with tape.
Dmytro, 45, who also resides in northern Saltivka, lost his apartment in 2022 and later survived a bomb hitting another residential building where he stayed. While this time his new home was not completely destroyed, all the windows were broken.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
Dmytro and another person standing in a room where new windows are placed.
Today, thanks to the People in Need’s work and funding from the European Union Humanitarian Aid, they are being replaced.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
View of a destroyed house.
Given the severity of the strikes occurring in Kharkiv and Kharkiv Oblast, broken windows are just one of many problems locals face. Many houses and apartment buildings require more substantial reconstructions, such as complete roof repairs.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
3 aid workers, seen from the back, standing in front of an appartment building.
In the village of Cherkaska Lozova, People in Need with EU Humanitarian Aid funding are repairing the roofs of three apartment buildings. They were heavily damaged by shrapnel during the shelling.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
An aid worker standing inbetween rooftop beams.
Despite constant power outages, the roofs of 2 buildings have already been completed, allowing most of the residents to return to their homes. The third facility will be ready in a few weeks.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
4 people standing in a bomb shelter that is being repaired.
Despite continued shelling and attacks on Kharkiv Oblast, active repair works are ongoing in the Solonytsivka community, where PIN and EU are restoring a bomb shelter in the local Lyceum.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
A child with a teacher sitting at a table with a mirror in front of them.
Although most of the children study online, students of the local inclusive resource centre for children with special education needs come to classes at the Lyceum. Therefore, ensuring their safety in a comfortable shelter is essential.
© People in Need, 2024 (photographer: Alberto Lores)
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    Story and photos by People in Need

    Publication date: 22/05/2024