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May 9, 2023
Humanitarian Response

Life in a Ukrainian Ghost Town


The situation in Kherson is nightmarish. The region, home to 330,000 people before the war, is now a ghost-town with less than 60,000 inhabitants. Of 622 older Jewish people, 116 live in parts of the region that are still under direct Russian occupation, cut off from their neighbours and the country beyond. They tell us “We will die here”. They are unwilling to evacuate their homes.

International NGOs used to run soup kitchens across the region, but now gatherings of more than 5 people are forbidden. Even a gathering of this size is at increased risk of Russian attack. In this vacuum, World Jewish Relief’s partner is providing essential items and home care to older residents across Ukrainian-controlled areas.

At nighttime people black out their windows with plywood, to deter drones looking for targets. Bombed out windows leave people vulnerable to intruders. One of our partners’ homes was hit by a missile this week, destroying her roof and blowing out her windows. But she cannot leave for fear her home will be looted. Against this backdrop we are exploring ways to repair bombed-out homes with windows that will withstand the impact of future attacks, whilst providing security and warmth to residents.