INTERVIEW | Kharkiv Mayor: “First and foremost, it is important for us to ensure the protection of people”

ИНТЕРВЬЮ | Мэр Харькова: «В первую очередь нам важно обеспечить защиту людей»

Kharkov Mayor Igor Terekhov (left) and UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Denise Brown visit the sites of recent rocket attacks. INTERVIEW | Mayor of Kharkov: “First of all, it is important for us to ensure the protection of people” Peace and security

​Kharkov is subjected to powerful missile attacks from Russia, which every day lead to new casualties and destruction – over the past few weeks, dozens of civilians have been killed and injured, including children, tens of thousands of Kharkov residents have been left without roofs over your heads – hundreds of residential buildings were destroyed,  as well as critical infrastructure, dozens of schools, hospitals.    

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Denise Brown recently visited Kharkov. Together with the city’s mayor Igor Terekhov, she visited the places where Russian missile strikes were carried out on May 25 – a construction hypermarket and the central part of Kharkov. The city’s mayor Igor Terekhov told the UN News Service in an exclusive interview about how Kharkov lives today and what difficulties have to be overcome. UN News Service: Thank you very much for finding time today in such a situation. How Kharkov lives today, under daily shelling? Mayor Igor Terekhov: First of all, thank you for allowing us to chat today. Regarding how Kharkov lives… There are very serious shellings, which Kharkov withstands every day like no other city. The tragedies that happen every day in Kharkov are terrible. People are dying. There are no words to describe the grief that Russians bring to us. It was a very difficult week. First there were attacks on the private sector. Then there was a terrible hit in the printing house, where people were on shift – many of them died or were injured. Afterwards – the terrible events that happened on our day off, on Saturday, when people were going to the supermarket – to the construction supermarket, where families always go. A lot of people died there. Today it is impossible to even establish the exact number; the search work has not been completed and more bodies may be found. Many people are in serious condition in the hospital. There was also shelling in the central part of the city, and people there were also injured. This is real terrorism that the Russian Federation is committing towards Ukraine. It is important that the whole world knows what is happening in Kharkov today. Today Kharkov is a symbol, it is an outpost of Ukraine. 

ИНТЕРВЬЮ | Мэр Харькова: «В первую очередь нам важно обеспечить защиту людей»

Clearing the rubble at the site of the shelling in Kharkov. UN News Service: In this situation, evacuated residents of other settlements are also arriving in Kharkov  In the Kharkov region, where intense hostilities are currently taking place, a transit hub has been created in Kharkov. How the city copes with the additional influx of people?  Mayor Igor Terekhov:People are coming to Kharkov who were forced to move because active hostilities are taking place on their territory. In just a week, more than 10.5 thousand people arrived in Kharkov in need of help because they were left completely without anything. We accept them, place them in dormitories, and provide them with everything they need. Of course, it is very difficult, emotionally difficult for these people to leave their homes. But we are doing everything possible so that they feel more or less normal, so that they receive medical care, so that their children go to school, to provide them with basic things, since so many people came to Kharkov with absolutely nothing. We are engaged in their employment and socialization. It is important that we have the resources to do this. But you understand, when they are constantly shelling, intimidating, when people are forced to constantly hide from shelling – this is very difficult, both for Kharkov residents and for the people who come to us.  UN News Service: How cooperation with UN agencies is helping you cope with this situation? Mayor Igor Terekhov: Just the day before we had Denise Brown. We work very closely with her, the UN office in Ukraine does a lot. Today we discussed with her that it is very important to convey to the whole world, to the entire international community  what is happening in Kharkov. We really need people around the world to understand how we survive here. And it is very important that we are supported not only by words, but also by actions. 

ИНТЕРВЬЮ | Мэр Харькова: «В первую очередь нам важно обеспечить защиту людей»

Igor Terekhov (center) and Denise Brown lay flowers at the site of the rocket attack. Humanitarian support must be there, and it exists, it is effective. Thanks to international funds, many people are receiving help today. 150 thousand city residents today are left without their apartments, they need somewhere to live, repair their homes in order to return home.  UN News Service: In these conditions, you are already thinking about the coming winter. Last week you signed a memorandum of cooperation with UNICEF (ed. – the new aid package involves the allocation of approximately 500 million hryvnia and will be aimed at developing partnerships in the areas of education, water and heat supply, and sanitation). Please tell us about this. Mayor Igor Terekhov:First, we still need to survive the summer. On May 23 of this year, a blow was dealt to the critical infrastructure that supplied the city with electricity. Due to this, today Kharkov does not have its own generation – all thermal power plants, transformer substations were destroyed, there was severe damage to all the networks that supply our city with electricity – there was a complete blackout in Kharkov, people were without electricity for a whole day. We managed to “feed” Kharkov little by little from other regions of Ukraine. And today we depend on the ability of other cities to share electricity with us. Therefore, today the main goal is to work on a system of decentralization of energy, heat, and water supply. This is very expensive. There is such equipment that is produced in other countries. We have already agreed with the manufacturers that they will reserve it for us, otherwise we will not be able to survive the fall and winter. Now we must transfer money for the equipment, which is not in the city budget today, so we are turning to international funds. Without this, 1 million 300 thousand residents of the city simply will not be able to survive the winter. This issue is of great concern to Kharkiv residents. It is vitally important for us. We will continue to ask our international partners for help with a request to support us. 

ИНТЕРВЬЮ | Мэр Харькова: «В первую очередь нам важно обеспечить защиту людей»

UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Munir Mammadzade and Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov after signing the memorandum. UN News Service: You said that thousands of people in Kharkov are left homeless today… Mayor Igor Terekhov: 150 thousand people have no housing today. This is a very serious problem. Since the beginning of the war, approximately nine thousand houses, mostly residential, have been destroyed. 110 kindergartens were destroyed (this is 50 percent of all that we have today). 130 schools were destroyed, which is also approximately half of all schools in the city. As for hospitals and medical institutions, 88 of them were destroyed. There were destructions in the social sphere – 185 buildings. And this is very important, because it affects the ability to provide a normal life for people. How much will it cost to restore all this? Today this amount is about 10 billion dollars. And besides this, as I said, all thermal power plants and transformer substations were destroyed. The destruction in our city is colossal! I want to repeat that Kharkov really needs to protect the lives of people so that they can feel safe.   Views expressed by the mayor Kharkov during this interview may not coincide with the official position of the UN – approx. ed.  Read also:

The head of UNICEF in Ukraine – about evacuations in the Kharkov region: “People are unlikely to be able to return to their homes in the near future”


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