Hungarian Interchurch Aid consignment reaches Kharkiv

The aid organisation helps civilians living in bomb shelters and subway stations of the city besieged since the start of the war

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Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine in close proximity to the Russian border has received its first aid consignment from Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA). Half of the 1.5 million inhabitants have already fled due to the constant attacks on the city since the outbreak of war. Most of those who stayed have nowhere to go, or are unable to flee to a safer environment because they need to care for their small children, elderly and those needing constant medical care. Taking refuge in bomb shelters, cellars, basements and subway stations these people are subjected to 5-6 air raid warnings and subsequent attacks often lasting hours.

Several utility services are out of order, apartments are left without running water, gas or heating. Electricity is also frequently cut. Returning to flats in housing blocks – even if only for a couple of hours and presuming the flats are still intact – is very hard or the socially most disadvantaged civilians with health problems, as elevators have stopped working city-wide. Although in the city some grocery stores are still open, they can be hard to reach since public transport isn’t operational either. Travel is already risky due to the constant fighting, frequent missile attacks and air raids especially targeting infrastructure.

Sergei Babin and his wife have stayed in the city nevertheless. Their association “International Bridge” aims to help the citizens of Kharkiv suffering the effects of the war and is affiliated with HIA partners Zlatograd Foundation of Dnipro. Altogether, they have 50 volunteers helping them in their efforts. Despite all war-related difficulties, HIA managed to deliver an aid consignment to the besieged city on 30 April. The 70 food parcels and almost 100 hygiene kits were distributed to civilians who had been holed up in the subway stations and bunkers for a good part of the two months since the start of the invasion.

„There is a great need for food and hygiene products, potable water and flashlights. We receive a huge number of requests for aid from the hospitals, maternity wards of the different districts of the city, and there is also a shortage of medicine. We are grateful for any kind of help, as the people of Kharkiv have been suffering from this serious humanitarian crisis for many weeks now” said Sergey Babin, expressing his gratitude for the HIA aid consignment.

In the two months since the outbreak of the war, HIA has been able to continuously expand their assistance to new methods and geographical areas. The humanitarian operations now stretch from the extreme west of the country to the Dnieper bend in the east, encompassing 10 regions of Ukraine. Until 24 April, the HIA response has reached 70,921 people, providing emergency access to basic food and non-food items, health & hygiene products, protection and links to transportation services. In total, HIA has sent 40 trucks filled to brim with core relief – every week 4 or more trucks cross the Hungarian border. In addition to the tangible, in-kind aid, in cooperation with partner organisations the aid organisation is also able to provide psychosocial assistance to the traumatised people fleeing the horrors of war. Furthermore, the organisation also supplies over 200 community shelters for IDPs with all kinds of aid.