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Snapshots from Kharkiv

Date: June 6, 2022
Kristina Preikšaitytė, Nonviolent Peaceforce Protection Officer, looks at the apartment building damaged by the Russian forces in Kharkiv city, Ukraine, 25 May 2022. © Tetiana Gaviuk/Nonviolent Peaceforce
Kristina Preikšaitytė, Nonviolent Peaceforce Protection Officer, looks at the apartment building damaged by the Russian forces in Kharkiv city, Ukraine, 25 May 2022. © Tetiana Gaviuk/Nonviolent Peaceforce

“My husband broke his hip before the war. He can’t walk. Volunteers could have helped us to evacuate, but what we would do after the evacuation? Conditions in collective centers are overcrowded and how would I take care of him there?”, Tatiana shares. She and her husband Konstantin are an elderly couple who are still living in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

All of their neighbors except one have evacuated or moved to the basement. The conditions are deplorable in the basement—sewage water drips from the apartments above, there is no light, and the temperature is chilling. Even so, the bombing is less terrifying down in the basement.  

Tatiana sits beside her husband Konstantin in their apartment in Kharkiv city, Ukraine. Konstantin is unable to walk and the couple remain in their apartment during the shelling. “We haven’t gone to the basement once”, Tatiana says. “It’s very scary to hear the bombing.” Kharkiv city, Ukraine, 26 May 2022. © Tetiana Gaviuk/Nonviolent Peaceforce.
Tatiana sits beside her husband Konstantin in their apartment in Kharkiv city, Ukraine. Konstantin is unable to walk and the couple remain in their apartment during the shelling. “We haven’t gone to the basement once”, Tatiana says. “It’s very scary to hear the bombing.” Kharkiv city, Ukraine, 26 May 2022. © Tetiana Gaviuk/Nonviolent Peaceforce.

At the end of May, the NP team traveled to visit civilians in Kharkiv and Chuhuiv. NP’s Kristina Preikšaitytė shares an update:

"Behind me you see a damaged apartment block- a huge building that has been hit by a missile. We’ve spent this afternoon talking with some residents that were able to escape most of the fire and are now sheltering in an accommodation nearby.

It has been quite a challenge for families fleeing the eastern parts of the country to settle in the major transit points, such as Zaporitzhia, Odessa, and Dnipro, mainly because it is just simply too expensive for them to begin a new life there. And so looking to get back to their own properties in order to seek employment opportunities, many people decide to come back.

We’ve also met with a lot of people that are not wanting to leave their family members behind, especially the elderly that are unable to move and need care and attention. It’s been heartbreaking to witness the tragedy that this conflict has brought to Ukraine, as it has been incredibly inspiring and moving to see the spirit of the Ukrainian people- their solidarity, their open hearts--and with what strength they’re approaching their situation today."

Read the team's Kharkiv Snapshot, which presents key conclusions from a rapid protection assessment conducted in Kharkiv and Chuhuiv in May 2022. It builds on analysis and recommendations published earlier in May 2022 as part of a broader assessment of protection needs and responses in Ukraine (read the Preliminary Findings report here). The snapshot demonstrates that in Kharkiv and surrounds, there is an ongoing protection crisis that predominantly impacts the elderly and people with disabilities.

Unable or unwilling to evacuate, many of those who are older, have disabilities, or those who are their caretakers, are unable to access shelters during ongoing shelling and missile attacks. For those who can move to bunkers or other shelters, these are often ill-equipped to serve the hundreds of people who continue to use them for safety from attacks.

Children’s drawings hang in a basement of the apartment building in Kharkiv city, Ukraine. 26 May 2022. © Tetiana Gaviuk/Nonviolent Peaceforce
Children’s drawings hang in a basement of the apartment building in Kharkiv city, Ukraine. 26 May 2022. © Tetiana Gaviuk/Nonviolent Peaceforce

 “We haven’t gone to the basement once”, Tatiana says as she sits on a bed beside her husband, holding Konstantin’s hand and fighting back tears. “It’s very scary to hear the bombing.”

One of the couple’s neighbors chose not to go to the basement risking his own life to show Tatiana and Konstantin they are not alone.  

Will you let civilians in Ukraine know that they are not alone by giving to NP today?

You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.
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