People in Need delivered aid to liberated Kherson and Lyman; we are preparing homes for winter

Published: Dec 8, 2022 Reading time: 10 minutes
The house in Shevchenkove, 50 kilometres from Kyiv, was damaged by shelling during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. People in Need with funding from EU repaired the roof to keep homes of people warm during the winter.
© Foto: Petr Štefan

Winter has arrived in Ukraine, and Ukrainians are being tested by increasingly frequent Russian airstrikes on civilian infrastructure. Russia's actions make it unimaginably difficult for ordinary Ukrainians to survive in freezing temperatures. Towns and villages are shrouded in darkness, and people often have no way to keep warm. People in Need continues working on the ground. In mid-November, we delivered urgently needed hygiene products as part of a humanitarian aid convoy to the newly liberated city of Kherson. In addition, roof slates, other construction materials, and bedding were delivered to recently liberated Lyman and other nearby settlements in eastern Ukraine. Our team, together with local partners, is working round the clock to replace windows and rooves and to deliver stoves to keep homes warm across Ukraine. We continue providing food and water to thousands of people in eastern Ukraine and already running ten child-friendly spaces for children to play and forget about the war for a while. 




Humanitarian aid for newly liberated cities, repairs of schools and family houses


People in Need was part of the humanitarian convoy to the newly-liberated Kherson, which arrived in the city on the 17th of November. The convoy included four trucks filled with humanitarian items, including 500 hygiene kits, 1,000 packs of washing powder, sanitary pads, and 1,500 food kits. "Humanitarian aid to Kherson is limited due to security reasons, and the needs are huge due to a combination of factors, for example, no basic services, limited access to markets and shops, and the meagre purchasing capacity of people," says Sergei Saenko, People in Need's Eastern Region Director.

Recently liberated Lyman has been heavily damaged by months of fighting and Russian occupation. Slate and other construction materials and bedding were distributed to Lyman and other nearby settlements to ameliorate living conditions in the area. 

In the last month, we have been providing aid in nearly all oblasts of Ukraine. In the east, we have delivered non-perishable foodstuffs, canned food, and more for 16,900 people to villages and towns in Kirovohradska, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and Mykolaiv Oblasts. Along with food, we are delivering basic hygiene supplies that cannot be bought locally. In the last month alone, 958 people in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and 1,445 people in the Kharkiv Oblast also received such aid. Furthermore, we provide much-needed drinking water; we have brought 42,240 litres of clean drinking water to the Kharkiv Oblast.

"All these attacks by Russia have just one aim—cause chaos and suffering among civilians and to force further displacement of thousands of people within Ukraine or into neighbouring countries." 

Winter has come to Ukraine, temperatures have dropped below freezing, and the people lack electricity, water, and thus heating in many places. Hundreds of thousands of houses are damaged or destroyed. The recent Russian missile and drone strikes have crippled almost half of Ukraine's energy system. Due to Russian attacks, millions have no or limited access to electricity. "All these attacks by Russia have just one aim—cause chaos and suffering among civilians and to force further displacement of thousands of people within Ukraine or into neighbouring countries," says Petr Drbohlav, Regional Director for Eastern Partnership and Balkans at People in Need.   

Our teams are working hard to fix the windows and rooves of damaged homes and collective centres; more complex repairs are following. Additionally, tarpaulin, wood, and plastic sheeting that enable basic repairs are being distributed to families, in addition to winterisation items like stoves and mattresses.

"Everything that we had for our daily life, we do not have anymore. And now we are trying to rebuild at least something. And People in Need supported us. For example, we did not have the battens - we needed them for the roof. Thanks to the organisation [PIN], we received the battens, and we repaired the roof ourselves," says Liudmyla Chmil, a resident of Ivanivky village in Chernihiv Oblast. 

Across the country, we continue to repair houses, water systems and makeshift power supplies. In the Kirovohrad and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts, we have temporarily repaired homes for 1,630 people and bought furniture for collective centres, where 450 people have found shelter. Small and medium-sized repairs are also underway in the north in the Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy Oblasts and in the west in the Zakarpattia Oblast. Because water systems are often closely connected with heating systems, they must be fixed before winter. We provide long-term solutions in several settlements. In newly liberated Balakliia, Derhachi, Eshar, and Alkhivska hromada, we delivered pumps and necessary equipment installed and ensured that the centralised water system was running.

Psychological support in schools, collective centres, and local administration

€110,000 WORTH OF AID 

Thousands of Ukrainians spend their days in collective centres where they have found temporary shelter, including children. And it is for these children that we run ten Child-Friendly Spaces in Lviv, Ivano-Frankiv and Chernihiv Oblasts, where a total of forty assistants and one child psychologist for each space work. One hundred fifty children spend their free time there, and three hundred more await parental consent. And we still continue providing hot meals twice daily for 551 people in Lviv Oblast.

Shop according to one's needs


We continue with cash distribution in some parts of Ukraine. The most vulnerable families receive the equivalent of CZK1,700 in hryvnia each month for a quarter of a year; this cash enables them to shop according to their needs.   



Almost 450,000 refugees have arrived in the Czech Republic since the war began, the highest number per capita of any EU country. Whilst they have managed to escape the war physically, life in a foreign land has been accompanied by joy and sad twists and turns.

Valerie, her husband, daughter and four-year-old granddaughter, fled the horrors of war with the last of their strength. The terminally ill woman contacted us when she was already bedridden. "She was distraught because her period of state-funded health insurance was ending. We resolved the situation, but the lady died two weeks later, and we ended up helping the grieving family with their last goodbye," says Helena Mourečková, SOS Ukraine's field coordinator.

Another time, our worker was among the first to hear the crying of a newborn. His mother, Olga, who came to the Czech Republic in her fifth month of pregnancy with her three-year-old son and her parents, accompanied him through the second half of the pregnancy to the birth, during which she interpreted.

Thousands of Ukrainians supported

Over the past period, we have supported 3,617 Ukrainians in various ways: 3,171 adults (18+) and 446 children. Of these, 774 clients sought help from our helpline. We provide additional refugees with information services in their mother tongue on our website, in groups on social networks, etc. In cooperation with the Hlavák Initiative, 6,766 more new arrivals, departures and others were supported with donations from the SOS Ukraine collection.

In connection with the intensification of rocket attacks on Ukrainian cities, for example, in the Karlovy Vary Region, we have seen an increased number of new arrivals needing immediate food aid.

Through our services, we support refugees mainly with social counselling—finding housing, employment or arranging humanitarian benefits. Like the siblings Irina and Oleg, a 19-year-old girl and her 14-year-old brother, who came to the Czech Republic alone. Their sick mother had to stay in Kyiv. In addition to applying for benefits, our colleagues helped them to furnish their room in the hostel, enrol the boys in school and arrange Czech tutoring. 

Our psychologists have mastered a new healing method

People come to us with all kinds of problems. It happens that, through an error of the authorities, they are left entirely without resources. In Prague, for example, a widower Yurii with an eleven-year-old daughter Baranyk, cannot work due to serious health problems. We provided him with food and necessary medicines and his daughter with a laptop for school preparation. We also face cases where people with certain visas are not entitled to humanitarian benefit payments or free access to the labour market. For example, we cooperate with employment offices in Prague, Pilsen, and Hodonín. 

Among our most common tasks is arranging medical care. In addition, refugees extremely often suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety. Our psychologists have therefore been trained in the 'Assyst' ‚healing method, providing people with the opportunity to cope with traumatic events relatively quickly. At the same time, we also newly protect our Ukrainian team with supervision possibilities in Ukrainian. 

We're scaling up support where it's needed most

As members of the Consortium of NGOs working with migrants, we commented on LEX Ukraine 4.

"In order to meet the goals of the SOS Ukraine fundraiser, we have newly entered into partnerships with entities from different regions of the country, such as Children of Ukraine, Prague Maidan and others. We want to multiply our support where it is needed most - humanitarian aid for refugee families, educational opportunities for children who could not get to primary schools in Prague for capacity reasons, and Czech language courses," says Zuzana Ramajzlová, head of the SOS Ukraine programme in the Czech Republic.

We continue to organise or coordinate aid centres for refugees. In Beroun, Central Bohemia, we are transforming an assistance centre into an integration centre. We are still working with Ukrainians in mass hostels and are already dealing with cases of people abuse by "solidarity" accommodation providers.

Helpline support now requires longer-term collaboration

The support on the Ukrainian helpline (+420 770 600 800) now often requires longer-term cooperation with the client in dealing with multiple demands. A family that had to move out of a mass hostel in the Ústí nad Labem region managed to find social housing in Litvínov. Through other organisations and volunteers, they also furnished the flat and helped the family check contracts and handover protocols and interpret or explain what was needed. In the end, they stay in contact with the family in case of emergencies.

We tutor, provide technology, and recruit volunteers  

We see a lot of value in adaptation groups for children. In collaboration with other NGOs, we have made recommendations to the Ministry of Education for adequate funding for them. We are expanding online tutoring capacity for Ukrainian students. We have successfully rolled out support through a virtual branch. We also offer tutoring in some primary and secondary schools, e.g. in the Central Bohemia region, and career counselling for older children. We are still looking for ways to help Ukrainian teenagers aged 15+. We provide children and adults with the necessary technology.

A focus group of Ukrainian teaching assistants continues to meet to bring us up to date on current issues. 

For both Ukrainian and Czech children, we organise joint leisure activities; for example, in Liberec, we organise joint cooking/baking, fighting, trips or yoga.

We published the penultimate part of the Life in the Czech Republic series, which goes into more detail about helping war refugees from Ukraine. Through our traditional Stories of Injustice Awards, we expressed our support for all the brave Ukrainians defending their homeland this year. The award went to Ukrainian human rights activist and prisoner of war Maksym Butkevych, who is currently unjustly imprisoned. 


€985,000 WORTH OF AID

Since the beginning of the invasion, we have also been helping in neighbouring Moldova. We have been supporting families who have provided shelter to people fleeing the war. At the same time, we help run a helpline for aid in Ukrainian and Russian. As part of a new pilot project, Education in Emergencies for Ukrainian refugee children in Moldova, our team is finalizing the preparatory work to enable children to join distance learning. 

Autor: People in Need

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