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Individual: Celebrating Christmas amid rocket strikes in Ukraine.
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Individual: Celebrating Christmas amid rocket strikes in Ukraine.

According to a high-ranking official from the United Nations migration agency (IOM), there was no break from conflict in Ukraine during the holiday season. This affected both the citizens of the country and the UN workers who were trying to provide assistance and aid.

Yuri Rudenko, a National Programme Officer for IOM Ukraine, was away from work in his hometown of Dnipro on December 29th when a fatal air attack occurred in several Ukrainian cities, including Dnipro. As a result, he and his team were promptly mobilized to respond.

During the period between Christmas and New Year, Ukrainians partake in festivities. Despite the ongoing war, it is a time where we exchange gifts with our children, gather with loved ones, and for a brief moment, attempt to escape from the harsh reality of nearly two years of turmoil and violence. We put on a cheerful attitude and hold onto hope for a Christmas miracle.

Yuri Rudenko, National Programme Officer for IOM Ukraine

Yuri Rudenko, National Programme Officer for IOM Ukraine

I, along with others in Ukraine, woke up early on December 29th due to air raid warnings. Russian missiles were headed towards cities such as Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, Lviv, and others in Ukraine. It was the biggest attack yet in the ongoing war, involving various weapons such as combat drones, cruise and ballistic missiles, and hypersonic weapons.

I had no opportunity to examine or justify. I immediately had to arrange and manage IOM’s emergency aid efforts. I was bombarded with information and discovered that numerous civilians had perished or been wounded, and their residences were destroyed. The entire country was stunned, even maternity hospitals were not spared.

Dnipro, the city I reside in, is among the most populous cities in Ukraine with a population of over one million. Due to the beginning of the extensive conflict, it transformed into a city on the frontlines, accommodating approximately 150,000 individuals who were forced to leave their homes.

Initially, we collaborated with officials from the Dnipro region and city to identify the areas that were most affected by the damage and determine where our assistance would be most beneficial.

I was informed that shelter kits were essential, as numerous residences were severely impacted. In harsh winter conditions, the last thing a community affected by war needed was structural damage and shattered windows.

Cities across Ukraine, including Dnipro (pictured), were heavily bombed over the festive period.

© UNOCHA/Oleksii Holenkov

During the holiday season, many cities in Ukraine, such as Dnipro (pictured), were heavily bombed.

The local authorities requested our assistance as one of their buildings, the Dnipro Regional Social Protection Department, was impacted by the missile strike. This department offers aid to the most at-risk individuals in the region. The explosion shattered the windows of a nearby building, hindering their important work. Our aid was crucial in aiding civilians and supporting the Department.

Fortunately, we were prepared to take action by using emergency shelter kits funded by the EU. These kits included essential items such as hammers, nails, tarpaulins, plastic sheets, knives, rope, and fixing agents. With these supplies, we were able to provide some protection for individuals from the harsh wind and cold weather.

I can’t praise my colleagues highly enough. They hired trucks out of nowhere in the blink of an eye and got them to warehouses, where they were loaded and dispatched to the worst affected neighbourhoods. No matter their level of seniority, all colleagues pitched in to ensure goods were delivered to the people that needed them most. 

12 hours following the significant assaults, we distributed 420 Emergency Shelter Kits to citizens and displaced individuals in Dnipro city. Additionally, we provided 100 kits to the local government, allowing them to continue aiding at-risk civilians in the area.

Although our Christmas did not bring about the miracle we had wished for, we were able to assist our neighbors in staying warm and remind them that they will always have support during times of hardship. This support will never waver, not even during the holiday season or the start of a new year.

The origin of this information is from the United Nations News Center.