Special report from Ukraine | Bucha and Irpen two years later

Спецрепортаж из Украины | Буча и Ирпень два года спустя

House 24/1 on Gostomel Highway is a symbol of Irpen’s indestructibility. Special report from Ukraine | Bucha and Irpen two years later Peace and Security

Two years after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the satellite cities of Kyiv – Irpen and Bucha, which took the first battle defending the capital from the Russian army, have become a symbol of revival and restoration. Destroyed neighborhoods, burned houses, streets that preserve the memory of the Russian occupation are literally rising from the ashes today, despite new rocket attacks and daily air raids.


“They flew in helicopters from the direction of Gostomel, where there is a cargo airport. Then the tanks marched along Vokzalnaya Street, crossed the railway and moved towards Kiev,” recalls the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion, the founder of the Institute for Sustainable Community Development of the City of Bucha and deputy of the Irpen City Council Mikhailina Skoryk-Shkarivskaya.

The occupation of Bucha by Russian troops lasted almost a month. The city was liberated on March 31, 2022. The whole world saw evidence of murders, torture and other crimes by the Russian military, as well as numerous destructions.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, visiting the city in December 2022, said it was difficult to think about what the people of Bucha had to endure: “…You hear about soldiers coming to your village or your city, and then you you see these soldiers, you see how they start killing people in the streets, then – sniper shots, fire, massacres, summary executions.”

The report of the UN Monitoring Mission in Ukraine talks about documented killings of local residents. The Russian military, according to the report’s authors, carried out summary executions at checkpoints. A text message on a phone, a piece of military uniform, or evidence of past military service could have fatal consequences for a person, the report’s authors say.

In September 2022, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, spoke to members of the UN Security Council about the consequences of the occupation. “In the city of Bucha, I visited the Church of St. Andrew, where I saw bodies hidden behind the building. This is not a sham. When I walked along the streets of Borodyanka, I saw destroyed schools and houses. This is real destruction, I saw it,” he noted then. It is estimated that thousands of buildings were damaged in Bucha and more than a hundred were completely destroyed.

Спецрепортаж из Украины | Буча и Ирпень два года спустя

There are still many destroyed buildings in Borodyanka.

Renaissance of the city

Unlike neighboring Borodyanka, which still looks depressing due to a lot of destruction, Bucha today “pleasantly amazes,” the correspondent reports UN News from the scene. Local authorities, together with the government and international partners, tried to do everything so that the city could live a full life as quickly as possible. UN agencies play an active role in these efforts, in particular UNICEF, the UN Development Program, the International Organization for Migration and others.

Спецрепортаж из Украины | Буча и Ирпень два года спустя

This quarter in Bucha suffered greatly during the occupation. Today everything has been completely restored.

“This is the Novaya Bucha quarter – everything here was broken and destroyed during the occupation. Now almost everything is completely rebuilt. You see two houses with new roofs? There was an airstrike and one of them was completely destroyed. Windows were broken and shot through. Another house burned down completely. Another house was completely destroyed, it was subsequently dismantled and is now being rebuilt – the second section is being restored “from scratch,” says UN News Service interlocutor Mikhailina Skoryk-Shkarivskaya.

Building it better than it was is the main condition under which money is allocated for restoration. “All the damaged apartment buildings are being comprehensively repaired – the roof is completely replaced, thermal insulation and facade are done (so that the house retains heat better). Even if one apartment is damaged, the whole house will still be repaired,” says Skoryk-Shkarivskaya.

Спецрепортаж из Украины | Буча и Ирпень два года спустя

Vokzalnaya street today. The private sector, which was severely destroyed, has been comprehensively restored here.

“I’ll show you Yablonskaya and Vokzalnaya streets—these were the most damaged during the occupation of Buchi Street,” says Mikhailina, pulling out onto a completely clean street. It’s hard to imagine that two years ago there was a convoy of heavy Russian military equipment here, and most of the houses were smashed or burned.

“It seems as if nothing happened here. But it only seems – people remember everything, it’s impossible to forget,” she adds. The restored streets look like a beautiful town with similar “one to one” houses, new fences, neat lawns.

“Vokzalnaya has become a symbol of resistance to Russian aggression and the courage of Ukrainians. There was a tragedy here that the whole world saw,” she adds.


In neighboring Irpen, literally across the river, more than half of all buildings were damaged as a result of the fighting.

“There is destruction on almost every street,” notes Mikhailina. – I saw aerial photography. There were no windows or doors anywhere due to the shelling. Everywhere there was varying degrees of destruction. Where windows are broken or there was one “arrival” in one of the apartments, the entire house is not considered completely destroyed. Although, as a rule, the whole house is renovated later. These are the conditions of the restoration program – to make it better than it was! /p>

“Sometimes I hear discussions about whether it is necessary to rebuild when the war and shelling continue. But the Kiev region is deoccupied; it is now not under such massive Russian fire as, for example, the border areas of the Kharkov region. People are returning, they need to live and work. The city is alive, there is business. By the way, many new restaurants have appeared! – Mikhailina rejoices. – Therefore, there is no reason to wait! A living city, a living community, a living economy – everything needs to be rebuilt. And then even more people will come. In the end, the western regions of Ukraine, where everyone fled at the beginning, are overcrowded, there is nothing for so many citizens to do there. And here Kyiv is nearby, more work, more opportunities.”

Спецрепортаж из Украины | Буча и Ирпень два года спустя

Irpen today. There is destruction on almost every street.

“This is Bagirova Street, the most damaged street in Irpen during the Russian occupation. We are often asked how we set priorities? How we determine what to restore first? So, we start with the most affected areas, explains the interlocutor of the UN News Service. “This neighborhood was completely destroyed. Now there are workers and construction equipment here. Every house is being restored. The same comprehensive restoration is taking place here as on Vokzalnaya Street in Bucha. on Gostomel Highway, 241 – another symbol of indestructibility and “an active participant in hostilities” – photos of the building went around the world media,” reports Mikhailina. In the spring of 2022, during a visit to the Kyiv region, the house was inspected by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Today the building is being actively restored.

Next to the destroyed high-rise buildings, you can see bright passports of new objects almost everywhere. They contain pictures of new projects that are planned to be implemented, a list of contractors, customers and construction deadlines. Almost everywhere, together with central and local authorities, the restoration of the housing stock is supported and financed by international partners, including UN agencies.

Спецрепортаж из Украины | Буча и Ирпень два года спустя

House 24/1 on Gostomel highway in Irpen is being restored today.

“This is one of the houses that will be restored by the International Organization for Migration,” Mikhailina shows. “IOM recently signed a memorandum on this with the authorities.”

The property’s passport says: “New construction of an apartment building.” A nine-story building with 76 apartments is planned at Gostomelskoye Shosse, 12. So far, on the site of the future house there is a foundation pit (the rubble of the old bombed house has been dismantled).

“By the way, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was involved in clearing the rubble and clearing mines in the Kyiv region, and in Bucha in particular,” Mikhailina clarifies.

UNICEF is restoring schools

Irpen Lyceum number 3, on Severinovskaya Street. “This school was almost completely destroyed (roof, facades, walls, windows, premises on three floors burned out), it suffered the most of all educational institutions in Irpen. Directly opposite her were firing points. There were constant battles here. Now everything in the school is completely new, it was restored by UNICEF,” says Skoryk-Shkarivskaya.

Today, one and a half thousand children attend school. This is one of the most modern educational institutions in the city, with an equipped shelter and inclusive space.

Спецрепортаж из Украины | Буча и Ирпень два года спустя

Shelter at a school in Irpen, renovated by UNICEF.

“The space both inside and outside the school is made to be as inclusive as possible. For example, look at the curbs,” Mikhailina points out. “They are made so that a person in a wheeled chair can easily move around here. But not everyone knows how to do it correctly. But UNICEF knows! It is very good when such partners appear. This means that everything will be done at a high level, efficiently and quickly. Because UNICEF has high requirements for contractors and transparent conditions. These are the main principles of the work of such organizations. Accordingly, the projects they undertake are implemented accordingly. UNICEF not only renovated this school, they are also setting up shelters in other educational institutions so that children can not interrupt the educational process during air raids.”

“The Spilno points (ed. – “Together”), which UNICEF opened throughout our region, are also a very good project. At first it was a tent where psychosocial and psychological assistance was provided to children and parents. But children could just come there to play and spend time. The first Spilno location was opened in the summer of 2022 in Bucha. And then – in Gostomel, Irpen. Now such a point operates in a shopping center in the center of Bucha. She’s mega successful. People often go to the mall and leave their children there. This is the place where you want to return. We are glad that we have such a partner as UNICEF,” says Mikhailina Skoryk-Shkarivskaya.

Спецрепортаж из Украины | Буча и Ирпень два года спустя

IOM project for the restoration of a residential area in Irpen.

“As soon as Bucha and Irpin in the Kyiv region returned to government control, UNICEF launched recovery and comprehensive support initiatives. The destroyed educational infrastructure was restored, shelters were built in kindergartens and schools, and, importantly, psychosocial support for children was given priority, Munir Mammadzade, head of the UNICEF office in Ukraine, told the UN News Service. – More than five thousand children in Bucha and Irpen study in reconstructed schools, including the Irpen school, which was 70 percent destroyed and whose restoration was funded by the EU. Now this school is fully operational and provides full-time education to 1,700 students, including displaced children.”

According to Mammadzadeh, UNICEF also provided the restored schools and kindergartens with furniture and educational equipment. and developmental materials. “For many children both in Ukraine and abroad, the war took away two years of study, time to play with friends and the opportunity to communicate with loved ones,” he noted. “She deprived them of education, happiness and a normal childhood. It had a devastating impact on their mental health. Therefore, we need to return children to schools and kindergartens. We need to minimize educational losses. It is important that kindergarten teachers, now trained to provide psychosocial and psychological support to children, are better able to support them during such a difficult period.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *