Over the past few days more than 30 settlements in the region of Kharkiv came under artillery and mortar fire, with the town of Vovchansk being hit by massive shelling. According to the latest reports, during the last three days, 5,762 civilians have been evacuated from their homes amid heavy fighting in the region, as some families had to walk miles to reach transportation to take them to safety.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been working in the evacuation hub in Kharkiv, assisting newly arrived families with medical aid, emergency items, and psychological support. The IRC team has established a child-friendly space in the hub to ensure that children have a safe corner to recover and receive psychological first aid.

Andrii Semenko, the IRC Child Protection Senior Officer, said: 

"Evacuation buses continue to bring in new people. Everyone is visibly distressed from enduring relentless shelling for a week. Many, especially the elderly, were hesitant to leave their homes until the very last moment, persuaded only by the pleas of their neighbors and relatives. The stress and pressure often makes people leave behind the very basic things, such as phones and documents, as their escape in a rush.

“Today, I met a mother with five children, the youngest just 8 months old; we could really feel her distress as the baby cried incessantly. Despite the turmoil, the evacuated children opened up, sharing their harrowing experiences. One girl drew her home surrounded by rubble, depicting the aftermath of two explosions she went through.”

Please feel free to reach out if you would like to arrange an interview with the IRC spokespeople or embed with us at the evacuation hub in Kharkiv.

About IRC Ukraine Response:
When the war in Ukraine escalated, the IRC launched an emergency response to address the needs of conflict-affected people in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Working with partners, we are striving to ensure that people are safe from abuse and exploitation, that children can continue to safely learn, and that displaced people have access to relevant information that enables them to make informed decisions about their next steps. We also run gender-based violence prevention and response activities, and provide mental health and psychological support and inclusion activities focused on boosting employability and economic empowerment. IRC programmes targeting Ukrainian refugees are also active in Greece, Italy, Germany, UK and US.