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June 1, 2023
Humanitarian Response

The harsh reality of life in Kyiv, Ukraine


A window which ahs been blown out

We are now entering month 16 of Russia’s brutal full-scale war against Ukraine. Whilst Kyiv has been targeted less often than front-line towns and cities in the east and south of the country, in May alone there have been 18 missile and drone attacks on the country’s capital.


How have recent attacks impacted Ukrainians living in Kyiv?

Three men standing in front of an apartment block with blown out windows and walls

Over the last few days, Kyiv has been targeted by Russian drones and missiles three times. Typically attacks happen in the early hours of the morning (3am) when people are asleep. On Sunday however, an attack happened during the daytime, killing a woman on the street and injuring two more. Last night (May 31st), widespread Russian shelling killed three people in Kyiv, and injured at least 20. Ukrainian air defence is largely successful at shooting down drones but the disruption to sleep, combined with anxiety and fear is continuing to impact mental health. Pictures of underground metro stations, full of people sheltering, have once again appeared on our screens.

“It doesn’t feel like reality, it feels like a nightmare.” – Julia Goldenberg, Director of 2U (One of our local partners in Ukraine)

Talk of a Ukrainian counter-offensive and increasing reports of attacks inside Russia – for example, Tuesday’s drone attack in Moscow – are seemingly contributing to the ferocity of this new wave of attacks. Yet Ukraine and its people remain, as ever, resilient and strong.


How have children been affected in Kyiv?

A classroom in disrepair with blown out windows and no one in it

Only schools with adequate bomb-shelters are open and operating in-person, with the vast majority teaching online. Although more prepared for this following the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still negatively affecting children’s education and socialisation. A whole generation of children will have had disrupted schooling for over 4 years now. Schools with bomb shelters may only have enough for a small number of people, and so some schools alternate children who are in-person and virtual; one cohort will be in person one week and online the next, and vice versa.


A personal update from our partner in Kyiv


A group of elderly people playing games in a circle

We are in constant contact with our 23 local partners across Ukraine, who are working tirelessly to deliver humanitarian aid, counselling, psychological and employment support, home repairs and care to the elderly amongst other services. But the impact on their staff and volunteers is substantial.

Here is an update from one of our partners, Hesed Bnai Azriel:

“We are forced to work under difficult conditions because of the Russian invasion. We are used to air raid sirens, to unpredictability, to war. And it’s awful. We don’t want to get used to it. Our clients say that we are “saving them from isolation, from depression, from hopelessness” but we feel that they are saving us from constantly thinking how fragile life is.

Our work is important for older people. Many of them have been left alone, their children and grandchildren have left. Some of our clients have lost their partners, homes, close friends during this war. When we get together, we give each other support, strength and a feeling of unity. When we see smiles even on the faces of serious project participants (playing games, telling stories, doing activities) we are twice as pleased, and together we find new meaning.”


How is World Jewish Relief providing support to Ukraine?

Man smiling looking at camera, with elderly Ukrainian women dressed in purple on his right

We are providing humanitarian assistance in 215 towns and cities across Ukraine, through our network of 23 local partners. We are also helping refugees and people who have been internally displaced by the ongoing conflict. We have assisted over 215,522 individuals in Ukraine with medical aid, food packages, psychological and employment support. We have reached more than 16,000 refugees in Moldova and Poland and 300 Ukrainians arriving in the UK, helping with language, employment and rebuilding their lives.