Kharkiv, Ukraine, August 14, 2023 — Over the weekend, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) teams were among the first responders assisting people evacuated from the northeastern city of Kupyansk due to constant shelling of the civilian population. Our staff report that more than 70 people came to the evacuation hub in Kharkiv, where they were attended until late night hours on Sunday. The IRC has been providing evacuees with medical assistance and legal advice, and created a safe space for children. We will continue expanding our response in Kharkiv to provide the Kupyansk evacuees with a safe haven.
Igor Bodina, IRC’s Field Manager in Kharkiv, said:
“Many people were forced to flee their homes again after surviving intense hostilities last year, having their hopes of recovery brutally shattered by constant shelling. We saw many families who were able to take only what fit in their suitcases. Some did not take even the most necessary things, rushing to leave in fear their homes or cars might come under a barrage of missile strikes.
“The humanitarian hub in Kharkiv is now a temporary home to many. Yesterday we saw single women with babies in their arms who had neither diapers, nor baby food. We saw disabled people who were simply unable to leave earlier and suffered for a very long time. Visibly distressed women and men who could no longer live under the bombs. Most people were just crying. Evacuees tell us they have no idea what tomorrow will bring.”
In light with increased amount of incidents targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, including last night’s shelling of Odesa, the IRC reiterates the international humanitarian law and international human rights law must be respected at all times - this includes protection of civilian life and infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, and ensuring humanitarian actors have unfettered access to those in need of assistance.