News publications and other organizations are encouraged to reuse Direct Relief-published content for free under a Creative Commons License (Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International), given the republisher complies with the requirements identified below.

When republishing:

  • Include a byline with the reporter’s name and Direct Relief in the following format: "Author Name, Direct Relief." If attribution in that format is not possible, include the following language at the top of the story: "This story was originally published by Direct Relief."
  • If publishing online, please link to the original URL of the story.
  • Maintain any tagline at the bottom of the story.
  • With Direct Relief's permission, news publications can make changes such as localizing the content for a particular area, using a different headline, or shortening story text. To confirm edits are acceptable, please check with Direct Relief by clicking this link.
  • If new content is added to the original story — for example, a comment from a local official — a note with language to the effect of the following must be included: "Additional reporting by [reporter and organization]."
  • If republished stories are shared on social media, Direct Relief appreciates being tagged in the posts:
    • Twitter (@DirectRelief)
    • Facebook (@DirectRelief)
    • Instagram (@DirectRelief)

Republishing Images:

Unless stated otherwise, images shot by Direct Relief may be republished for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution, given the republisher complies with the requirements identified below.

  • Maintain correct caption information.
  • Credit the photographer and Direct Relief in the caption. For example: "First and Last Name / Direct Relief."
  • Do not digitally alter images.

Direct Relief often contracts with freelance photographers who usually, but not always, allow their work to be published by Direct Relief’s media partners. Contact Direct Relief for permission to use images in which Direct Relief is not credited in the caption by clicking here.

Other Requirements:

  • Do not state or imply that donations to any third-party organization support Direct Relief's work.
  • Republishers may not sell Direct Relief's content.
  • Direct Relief's work is prohibited from populating web pages designed to improve rankings on search engines or solely to gain revenue from network-based advertisements.
  • Advance permission is required to translate Direct Relief's stories into a language different from the original language of publication. To inquire, contact us here.
  • If Direct Relief requests a change to or removal of republished Direct Relief content from a site or on-air, the republisher must comply.

For any additional questions about republishing Direct Relief content, please email the team here.

What Now for Internally Displaced People from Flooded, Shelled Kherson?


Ukraine Relief

Irina (left) and Natalia, recently displaced from Kherson, Ukraine, must find work, schools, childcare, and permanent accommodation as they build a new life in Odesa after flooding forced them to leave their homes. (Nick Allen/Direct Relief)

UKRAINE – After enduring eight months of occupation by the Russians and then seven months of shelling, the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam on June 6 finally prompted Natalia and Irina, two single mothers from Kherson, to flee with their children to Odesa.

“My ten-year-old son took off his shoes and started hitting himself when the flood happened,” Natalia recalled of the fear that gripped her three children, including also a two-year-old girl and fourteen-year-old boy, as the waters engulfed whole areas of the city. “It was the last straw.”

Irina and Natalia are now among thousands of internally displaced persons, or IDPs, who left Kherson and the surrounding region after the apparent destruction of the dam with explosives, which Ukraine and Russia each blame on the other. The disaster caused untold misery on both sides of the Dnieper River, flooding an estimated 230 sq. miles (600 km sq.) of land.

The flooding did not reach Natalia and Irina’s houses. But the decision to leave on June 8 was reinforced by the intensified Russian fire on Kherson, even as rescuers worked to save people and animals.

“They are shelling heavily now,” said Irina, who has a daughter and son aged 15 and 7. “If before it was from tanks and mortars, now they are using missiles as well.”

Not a day too soon

On the day their families left Kherson by bus, Direct Relief staff on the ground observed fresh damage to buildings and rubble strewn in the street by Russian missile impacts during evacuation operations, a few hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the city.

Shelling occurred daily after the flooding, with the Russians also accusing the Ukrainians of firing indiscriminately across the Dnieper. On June 16, some two dozen civilians were reported injured in shelling in Ukraine-controlled Kherson, with 15 impacts heard over around 90 minutes.

Incredibly, the civilian population went about its business even during shelling, often with children, having evidently adopted an extreme form of fatalism during the traumatic events of recent months.

“You get no warning when the shells come in, it happens before you can take cover – even if [a shelter] is right next to you,” said a Kherson resident waiting at bus stop beside a concrete shelter. “They are there more to reassure people,” she added, shrugging off the danger.

Starting over

A Kherson resident waits at a bus stop beside a concrete shelter on June 17, 2023. (Nick Allen/Direct Relief)

Ukrainian authorities said more than 3,000 people were evacuated from badly affected areas on the right bank of the Dnieper in the week after the initial flooding. Russian civil defense authorities said they conducted more than 8,000 evacuations on the left bank, under their control, between June 6-19.

Many people stayed with friends and relatives until the water dropped enough to assess the damage to their homes. Others who could no longer bear the chaos also went by bus to cities in more secure territory.

Natalia and Irina’s families traveled to Odesa, located 200km by road west of Kherson and the front line. They were among 400 people who evacuated there from June 6-15, according to city authorities, and were accommodated at a local center for victims of domestic violence.

Odesa is also prone to missile and drone attacks – a strike on a high-rise block in the city on June 9 killed a married couple internally displaced from Bakhmut – but the two mothers still regard it as a much safer option. Having arrived with only the possessions they carried, the families now face the challenge of building a new life in Ukraine’s fourth-largest city.

They said they will receive a monthly IDP payment of 2,000 hryvnias (US $54) per adult and 3,000 per child. But as Natalia notes, a small apartment costs 7,000 hryvnias a month before utility costs. Both women are looking for any work they can find, as well as childcare options, which are scarce in the city.

According to Ekaterina Shalyapina, women’s growth project leader at the Way Home Foundation, which runs the protection center, only four kindergartens are currently working, due mainly to the absence of bomb shelters in most others. Of the city’s 126 schools, only 33 are physically open, she said, while the rest work online only, which creates further complications: “The children are not just under stress because of the terrible things they experienced, but also because they live in a vacuum, without other children of their own age to mix with.

The two new families at the center, which has five other women and 12 children living there, can make use of its limited daycare facility and stay until their situation stabilizes. “We try not just to afford emergency help but help in the long term,” Shalyapina said.

Women’s protection center director Ekaterina Shalyapina shows its daycare room for younger children. (Nick Allen/Direct Relief)

The two mothers expressed relief at having moved away from the immediate danger, and Natalia already managed to get psychological support for her traumatized child. But they are essentially starting from scratch and much will depend on the war’s development going forward. They have no plans to go back to Kherson. “All we are waiting for now is victory,” she said.

As for Ukrainians and Russians being able to have close relations again in the future, Natalia is highly doubtful. “I am a kind-hearted person but I can’t understand what [the Russians] are doing. They shoot at houses with children in them, at evacuation efforts – how can we be friends?”

Since Feb. 2022, Direct Relief has provided more than 275 million defined daily doses of medication, totaling $930 million in material aid, to Ukraine.

Giving is Good Medicine

You don't have to donate. That's why it's so extraordinary if you do.