In the early days of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kherson found itself under occupation for 8 long months. When Ukrainian forces regained control of the city on 11 November 2022, the world saw images of thousands of people, tears of joy in their eyes, wrapped in blue and yellow flags, welcoming Ukrainian soldiers on the streets of their hometown. Hope had returned to Kherson.

Today, 2 years after the start of the full-scale war and 15 months since the liberation of Kherson, the city’s new reality is much more grim. Almost daily shelling by Russian forces have turned significant parts of the once vibrant and thriving port city into ruins.

Tears of joy have turned into tears of pain from the constant loss of human life. But hope for a better tomorrow has not abandoned Kherson and its people.

Despite the near-catastrophic humanitarian situation, ruined infrastructure, lack of access to basic life-saving services, and the daily risk of death from drone or missile strikes, thousands of Kherson residents continue to live in their city.

To ease their daily hardships, the European Union, together with its partners, provides assistance to the residents of Kherson with food, drinking water, hygiene supplies, medicine, and a full range of critical humanitarian aid.

With the onset of winter, making sure the people of Kherson have heating is vital, as the city frequently faces interruptions to the central heating system. Hence, in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the European Union ensures local residents have access to special mobile gas heaters and regularly replenishes gas supplies.

Keeping hope alive feels more manageable when your children can sleep in warmth and comfort despite the many challenges around them.

A Ukrainian mother with her young child in front of bottles of water provided by EU funding

In 2023, IRC and EU provided help to thousands of people through this humanitarian storage site in Kherson. Locals registered for cash assistance received gas heaters, winter kits,... A few days after this photo was taken, the hub was attacked by Russia.

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Ruins of a building in Kherson hit by Russian missiles

In December 2023, one of the many missile attacks on Kherson left this humanitarian storage site completely destroyed. Luckily, no one was injured in this shelling. However, it served as a reminder of how dangerous life and humanitarian work is in Kherson.

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Photo of Nina standing in her kitchen

Attacks like this are common in Kherson. Nina's building was struck by a drone that caused half the apartments to burn down. Those residents that stayed lost heating. People must wear layers of clothes in order not to freeze.

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An IRC worker fills up tanks of gas to be distributed to clients

The EU and IRC support people like Nina with heaters and cylinders, which they refill with gas every two weeks. Miraculously, the stock of cylinders survived the attack on the humanitarian hub, and volunteers continued distributing them among residents.

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Vira holding her cat standing in her front yard

Vira’s house was shelled multiple times and flooded after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. ‘When they bombed, a blast wave hit my window. I was standing there. The wave hit me in the back, turned me around, and hit my head against the wall,’ she says.

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Vira bringing a gas heater supplied by the IRC into her home

Today, Vira is able to keep her damaged but beloved house warm, thanks to the heaters and gas supplied by the European Union and the IRC.

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Photo of Nataliia

Nataliia is a local activist who helps her neighbours by providing them with food. Despite going through occupation and having her house damaged by shelling, she didn’t leave the city and continued her work there.

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An IRC staff person shows Nataliia a heating device

The heater and gas supplied by the EU and IRC help Nataliia to keep her house warm during the harsh Ukrainian winter. In a city where infrastructure is severely damaged, such a tool can be critical for the people's well-being.

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Olena holding her baby

‘We’ve survived it all: occupation, flooding, shelling,’ says Olena. After two years of war, her four children have already adjusted to the daily sounds of shelling and explosions. However, winter brought new challenges to this brave family.

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Olena and her family standing outside

With all of the food stocks lost in the flood, water in the well polluted and home severely damaged, they remain optimistic and resilient, certain of better days to come. The EU and IRC support them with the means to keep their home warm.

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This article has been reproduced with permission by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations. Original article written by Ivanna Bedei, Information and Communication Assistant in Kyiv. View original article.

About our work with the European Union

The International Rescue Committee partners with the European Union to provide life-saving support to people caught in conflict and disasters around the world. Our work funded by the EU enables people to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.