Enhancing the Resilience of Ukrainians Amidst Conflict

Enhancing the Resilience of Ukrainians Amidst Conflict

Vira Martyniuk, Diana Diasamidze
Photo of a woman standing in front of a shelter with new equipment and appliances  for the facility

Through the Ukraine Rapid Response Fund (URRF) program, IREX partnered with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Dana Center to enhance the resilience of over 12,900Ukrainians amidst conflict. This collaboration equipped 12 long-term shelters for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and established 13 humanitarian shelters known as "Points of Invincibility." These humanitarian shelters offer safety during emergencies such as power outages, providing warmth, charging facilities, and hot meals. These shelters are serving 25 Ukrainian communities across nine oblasts, including areas near the frontlines, and are crucial support hubs for those in need. 

Despite the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2024, Ukrainians continue to show remarkable resilience and determination in their pursuit of victory and freedom. Thousands of Ukrainians have fled their homes due to the ongoing conflict and sought temporary refuge in shelters designated for IDPs. Meanwhile those who have chosen to remain in their homes have found solace in nearby “Points of Invincibility,” which offer temporary support.  

Supporting local partner to equip shelters for locals and IDPs 

The rapid increase of IDPs in Ukraine has outpaced the capacity of shelters established since 2014, rendering them insufficient in recent months. In response, new facilities have been set up since the full-scale invasion, though many of these are in unrenovated premises that require significant upgrades to improve living conditions.  Simultaneously, many newly created “Points of Invincibility,” particularly those located in frontline oblasts, needed better equipment to effectively serve citizens during blackouts. 

With funding from the U.S. Department of State, IREX’s URRF program has supported the Dana Center in enhancing these local shelters, ultimately improving the safety and well-being of IDPs and all individuals using these facilities. 

The Dana Center assisted nine oblasts, which either border the frontline or host a large number of IDPs, including Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Odesa, Sumy, Kherson, and Cherkasy. A total of 25 facilities received 499 items of critical equipment, including 17 autonomous solar stations, 17 diesel generators, 10 chainsaws, 90 wooden folding chairs, 36 cord extensions, seven feeding chairs, 14 microwaves, nine trash cans, 15 electric stoves, 80 tables, 136 kitchen chairs, a water heating boiler, 10 washing machines with dryers, 13 fridges, four kitchen hoods, and 40 electric kettles. This equipment has significantly improved the conditions for those staying in both IDP shelters and “Points of Invincibility.” 

Community resilience and vital support: URRF's impact in Ukraine 

Viktoriia Kalnysh, Head of the Educational Department of Kushuhumska Village Council in Zaporizhzhia oblast, conveyed gratitude for the support provided by URRF. Despite promises from multiple funders to assist, no tangible support materialized. They had begun mobilizing community resources to replace the roof and windows damaged by explosions before winter. 

 "We are immensely thankful to the Fund [URRF] for responding to our plea and providing us with the necessary equipment," said Kalnysh. "The generator has proven to be invaluable, and the kettle is incredibly useful for keeping hot water accessible for extended periods." 

Autonomous solar stations and diesel generators are essential for each oblast, but especially for the frontline oblasts, such as Sumy and Kherson, where shelling and power outages are more frequent.   

Nadiia Artemenko, Mayor of Bereza village in Sumy oblast, described their dependence on generators during difficult times. Last winter, they faced severe electricity shortages, with power available for only two hours, three times a day. The "Point of Invincibility" did not have its own generator, so they relied on borrowed generators for the remaining hours. At one point, they borrowed a generator from the local school but had to return it when the school year resumed.     

Other equipment assists in the daily life of residents of IDP shelters and visitors of “Points of Invincibility”. Iryna Grekova, Deputy Mayor of Solone Council in Dnipropetrovsk oblast, highlighted the pressing need for equipment such as stoves, refrigerators, and boilers in shelters. "While humanitarian aid focused on food, hygiene products, and linen for IDPs, the shelters lacked essential equipment. The timely delivery of equipment was crucial, as rooms designed for four people had only one chair. Additionally, a single five kilogram washing machine for 45 people meant residents had to wait in line or do their laundry late at night," said Grekova. 

IREX’s URRF remains committed to supporting Ukraine’s pursuit of sovereignty and peace. The URRF team will continue to deliver swift assistance, helping Ukraine mitigate the dire consequences of war. Together, we stand united in our unwavering dedication to a free and secure future for the Ukrainian people.