• Thu. Jun 23rd, 2022

Stories from Ukraine: Tent camp provides shelter for displaced residents until Irpin can rebuild lost homes

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Jun 7, 2022

Since Russian forces were defeated and driven out of Irpin at the end of March, thanks to the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, the city has been working at full speed to repair the extensive damage to its critical infrastructure.

Patches have been applied to streets carved out by mortar fire. The burnt reservoirs were cleared away to allow commuter traffic to resume. Water pipes and sewage services have been restored. Even grocery stores are reopened and stocked with a variety of foods.

But thousands of residents of Irpin and surrounding areas remain displaced and in urgent need of care. Their homes or apartments have been completely destroyed, and rebuilding them as Ukraine remains in a state of war has been a challenge for the local government.

Once the threat to Irpin subsided as Russian forces left the town, residents began to return desperately even before the area was declared safe. Many found their homes razed. This created a crisis for the city government to deal with the refugees before a plan was in place for Irpin’s recovery.

In the first weeks after Irpin’s liberation, bodies were still being recovered from the rubble. The withdrawal process was hampered and slowed down due to the cruelty of the Russian army, which placed booby traps on many dead bodies and in houses. The city was left without water, without electricity, without access to the Internet, in addition to hidden military threats.

With a pre-war population of 60,000, Irpin spent weeks cataloging civil and economic damage. The survey revealed that 70% of the city’s structures were damaged, with 30% beyond repair. The cost of reconstruction soon reached around $1 billion. Additionally, the loss of its tax base meant that city leaders depended on humanitarian aid and charity to repair infrastructure. But often the work was done out of necessity, without funding.

While Mayor Oleksandr Markushin and regional leaders prepared permanent housing for people, they also provided temporary shelters for the homeless, especially families with children. Initially, Ukrainian Railways provided wagons for up to 200 residents. The rolling stock included beds, showers and a dining car.

The British government also donated shelter tents, which proved essential for many returning refugees. They added 70 more beds to the 120 rooms that had been set up in a sanatorium. Mayor Markushin announced on social media in early May that the city had provided around 2,000 beds for displaced Irpin residents.

Public funds have already been earmarked for the construction of new housing. By the end of 2022, Irpin hopes to build a medium-sized residential complex to meet the needs of displaced residents. The effort follows plans to establish other long-term housing in the area.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy previously estimated that the unprovoked Russian invasion would have a $600 billion impact on Ukraine, but recent estimates as the war continues have pushed that total to more than $1 trillion.