Since the beginning of the large-scale aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, 108,690 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been evacuated to Chernivtsi region, according to local authorities. This region is considered one of the safest due to its location far West and has never been attacked so far.
After Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv regions became newly accessible areas, some people returned home. However, for those whose homes were destroyed, there is no place to return to. Many have stayed in the Chernivtsi region but cannot afford to rent accommodation. They have been living in collective centers for internally displaced persons for over a year.
Collective centers are a unique and specific response in Ukraine. These places are religious sites, schools, universities, basements, any building that could be transformed into a safe haven for people fleeing war and looking for a place to stay overnight or even a few months.
Acted, with the support of Alliance2015 and its partners (Ayuda en Accion, CESVI, HELVETAS, WELTHUNGERHILFE, People In Need) participates in the rehabilitation of 26 collective centers in Chernivtsi region, in order to host displaced people who have nowhere else to go. Since the escalation of the conflict, restrooms, showers, and kitchens have been renovated. New furniture was also provided, more than 60 units of household appliances were installed and most importantly to face the harsh conditions of the winter, more than 150 windows and 17 doors have been installed in the collective centers in a year.
Most of the time these centers are established by civilians. Acted provides humanitarian assistance to support these centers in their effort to help internally displaced persons, by providing material donations, by renovating and adapting the centers to a larger influx of people and assisting with management and social cohesion.
We were already grateful that there are no rockets flying over our heads and that our children sleep peacefully at night
She had to leave Donetsk Oblast and moved to a school in the Chernivtsi region, which serves as a shelter for displaced people. “Just before the war started, we moved to a new apartment, made repairs, I ordered new beautiful curtains that matched the interior, but we did not have time to hang them on the windows – during the rocket attack, the windows were shattered, we left in a hurry to save ourselves and our children.” explains Elena B.
Feeling cared for and welcomed, the newcomers resume the course of a safer life, they organize themselves and adapt to the new conditions.
Myroslava B., moved with her family from Vuhledar, a small town located a few kilometers from the front line. She participates in community life and has organized a cooking service with the shelter residents to prepare free lunches. “The local religious community provides the food – grain, oil, fruit, vegetables – and we provide the labor – and we have lunch for 120 people. We even prepared festive dinners for Christmas. We have organized Ukrainian parties…”. Her husband is the head of the shelter’s self-administration, a group of volunteers who took from their own time to sustain and develop the collective center.
After a year of living in collective centers, people have gotten to know each other and share moments together. Some of the residents of the shelters, who came to the Chernivtsi region temporarily, liked it so much that they decided to settle in the area permanently.
These IDPs are also an economic opportunity for the region. Increasingly, both internally displaced persons and residents of Chernivtsi region are finding common ground. The local authorities perceive the new residents as a resource for the community. They bring new specialists and new jobs, as 18 companies have been relocated to the region. People are ready to stay in the region if there is work as well as decent housing – requiring further rehabilitation work.