The ongoing war has forced 5,352,000 people to move within Ukraine. The bombing has damaged their hometowns and energy infrastructure. Many people had to abandon their belongings and live in a rental or collective center.
What are Collective centers ?
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.
“I come from the Kupyanskiy district, from the village of Kovsharovka. My daughter and I came to the collective center in Kharkiv on September 29th 2022. Our village was under Russian control since February 2022. When we left, the bombing was very violent. Our small village, with only 70 houses, was bombed for four hours straight.” said Mrs. Lyubov*
“This dormitory is nice and it’s free. We have a separate room with my daughter. My daughter is studying, she takes online courses but can’t always attend classes because of the power cuts. It was cold in the collective center. There was no hot water or heating when we came here. But when the bombing on Kupyansk started to intensify, more people came to settle here.”
In the fall of 2022, Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was significantly damaged. Water, heating, and electricity supply was partially disrupted throughout the country. Some villages were completely deprived of essential services and faced sub-zero winter temperatures.
About 40% of Ukrainians have lost their jobs since the war began in February. Only 23% of the country’s inhabitants continue to work and receive their full salary.
Before the war, I was a saleswoman in a grocery store. Life was great, we had a future, we went to the seaside, even on vacation abroad
Thanks to the European Union’s financial support, Acted and the Estonian Refugee Council implemented a 13-month project to provide emergency multi-purpose cash assistance and cash for heating, to support vulnerable people : single parents, parents with young children, pregnant women, elderly people, people who need outside care or medical assistance, people whose homes have been damaged due to hostilities.
“I registered online and was able to receive 13,320 UAH for two. I can now dress my daughter with new clothes, she’s growing fast. I bought winter clothes, a jacket, a warm suit, boots, a hat and ascarf. When we arrived here, we only had our sweaters. In the rush, we didn’t realize what we needed, what we had to take. I took a bread maker for some reason, we had no light or water, we cooked on the fire, but for some reason I took it”, said Mrs. Lyubov.
The war turned Mrs. Lyubov’s life upside down. She lost her job and the banks stopped functioning, it was impossible to receive payments. The inhabitants of Kovsharovka village had to get water from the river and the collective well. Lyubov and her neighbours cooked outside because there was no light, water or gas. “The rockets usually flew past us all the time. The vegetables were cooking outside, while the rockets were flying overhead”, tells Mrs. Lubov.
“One time, a rocket went through my yard. My ears immediately started whistling and hurt so much. It was like I was moving in slow motion in a movie. I turned around, I ran to the entrance, because my daughter was there, and I saw shrapnel flying in front of me. I was running but I flet like I was moving so slowly. I was wondering what shrapnel was going to hit me in the back. I still can’t shake that feeling.”
“My daughter was used to seeing rockets flying outside. But when they started hitting right next door in our backyard, I didn’t want to take any more chances. She has a heart defect, I had to save my child. I couldn’t think about anything else. We slept all night, as best we could, and in the morning we packed up and rushed out. The cab drivers took us to the bridge of Kupyansk, we crossed the bridge on foot because it was broken, and from Kupyansk, volunteers took us to Kharkiv.”
Mrs. Luybov was hopeless, in this new big city and with no money in her pocket.
Acted supported us with cash and it was like a breath of fresh air. It gave us some stability and hope.
Thanks to the European Union financial support, 150 974 war-affected people across Ukraine, including in areas affected by daily shelling, received multi-purpose cash assistance in order to meet their basic needs.
*The name of the beneficiary has been changed for protection purposes