The support delivered to the reception centre where Lyudmyla’s family is hosted, and many other centres in Ukraine was made possible thanks to the support of the United Nations Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF).
Eighty-seven-year-old Lyudmyla has lived her whole life in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Today she is far from home, living in Uzhhorod, a city in western Ukraine in a reception centre hosting people displaced by the war. She is one of over eight million people currently displaced inside the country.
Lyudmyla still cannot quite believe what is happening. She was six years old when World War two started. She never imagined that she would live to see another war in her country.
“I still remember the horrible pictures of the war and extreme poverty surrounding us. My mother was constantly going to the villages nearby to exchange anything we had at home for food or soap. I cannot believe that we now have to live through war again, and I worry a lot for my family,” said Lyudmyla.
When the war against Ukraine broke out on 24 February, heavy bombardment and explosions forced Lyudmyla and her family to seek refuge in the nearest bomb shelter which happened to be in the local kindergarten. They spent a week huddled in the bunker before moving to the underground station where they would spend several nights. As the bombing intensified, the family took the decision to flee Kharkiv and find a safe place elsewhere in the country.
Lyudmyla, her children and grandchildren – crammed into their old car and started driving with no idea where to go. A journey that would eventually take them 1300 kilometres away from home, to Uzhhorod.
“We stayed overnight in many towns on our way. We didn’t know where exactly we were going. Volunteers told us about reception centres in Uzhhorod, so we came here. We were very grateful to be given accommodation and hot meals at the reception centre’.
Additionally, through its multi-purpose cash assistance programme, UNHCR provided Lyudmyla and her family with cash support to cover to help them cover their immediate basic needs.
‘It helped us to buy medicines, food supplements for children and other necessary things, as we have fled Kharkiv with only a few belongings.”
Although Lyudmyla and her family are now safe, they long for the day they can go back home.
“Kharkiv was the best city. There were many flowers…And now there are just ruins left. Where will we go after the war is over? I don’t know where we will come back to.”
Across Ukraine, UNHCR is working with authorities to help increase the hosting capacity of reception centres to accommodate more displaced people in need of shelter. So far UNHCR has supported 154 such centres with relief items like mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, bedding and appliances. Additionally, together with NGO partners like Nehemia, UNHCR provides legal and psychosocial support for people living in reception centres.
The support delivered to the reception centre where Lyudmyla’s family is hosted, and many other centres in Ukraine was made possible thanks to the support of the United Nations Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF). CERF’s funds reached UNHCR in the first days of the war in Ukraine, helping UNHCR to scale up its emergency response.
In addition to supporting the provision of non-food items to the reception centre, CERF funds help UNHCR to deliver cash and shelter assistance and essential protection services, such as psychosocial support and legal aid, for the most vulnerable among the affected populations.