Ukraine: LWF expands operations in Kharkiv

21 Mar 2023

LWF representatives in Ukraine and Bishop Pavlo Shvarts of German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ukraine met with local partners and the mayor of Kharkiv to discuss expanding LWF work in Ukraine.


Kharkiv mayor and LWF representative

Igor Terekhov, mayor of Kharkiv (left), and LWF country Representative Mark Mullan, discuss the possible work in Kharkiv. Photo: Mayor of Kharkiv office 

Repair apartments so people can return home  

(LWI) - Repair broken homes, supply relief goods, and care for traumatized people; these are the plans for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) work in Kharkiv, Ukraine. On 11 March 2023, LWF Ukraine country representative Mark Mullan and LWF Ukraine response coordinator Josef Pfattner, together with Bishop Pavlo Shvarts of the German Evangelical Church of Ukraine (GELCU), an LWF member church, met with the mayor of Kharkiv, Mr. Igor Terekhov, to discuss the needs and possible interventions by LWF. 

"Massive needs" 

LWF plans to open an office in Kharkiv and shift its humanitarian work towards the frontline city in the East. The city is the second largest in Ukraine and located only 40 kilometers from the border with the Russian Federation. "In Kharkiv, you see the full destruction of the war," Mullan said. "The needs are massive." LWF already supports heating points in the city, where people can warm up, have a hot meal and charge their devices. Bishop Shvarts also has his office in Kharkiv. The humanitarian work of the Lutheran congregations in Ukraine and LWF World Service complement each other, Pfattner says. 

In Kharkiv, you see the full destruction of the war. The needs are massive.

– Mark MULLAN, LWF Country Representative in Ukraine

LWF met with local partners and the mayor of Kharkiv, Mr. Igor Terekhov. "During the first year of the war, Kharkiv suffered significant destruction. Another shelling of energy infrastructure facilities left the entire metropolis without electricity just yesterday," said Terekhov about the situation in Kharkiv.  

The mayor asked LWF to support the renovation of apartments so that people could return to their homes. In addition to 1.8 million inhabitants, Kharkiv hosts half a million internally displaced people and there are 100 centers in Kharkiv alone to support them/for them. 

Bishop Shvarts in Kyiv

Bishop Pavlo Shvarts (GELCU) on this visit also blessed the LWF office in Kyiv which was opened in October 2022. Photo: LWF/ B. Pachuta 

Psychosocial and livelihoods support 

The LWF delegation also visited the Youth Council of Kharkiv, a local implementing partner, to see some of the most destroyed parts of the city. In addition, the LWF team is looking into possible psychosocial support and livelihood work in the long term. "More than 1000 businesses closed in Kharkiv in the past year; unemployment is very high," Mullan said. "Many people had a business before the war and would only need help to get it back up and running." 

In Ukraine, LWF World Service works together with the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine, in Chernihiv oblast, and in Kharkiv.  

The LWF Ukraine response is supported by many ecumenical and humanitarian partners (full list here).

LWF Ukraine meeting

From right: Country Representative Mark Mullan, LWF Ukraine response coordinator Josef Pfattner,  Bishop’s assistant Ms Katharina Nikorovna and Bishop Pavlo Shvarts plan LWF’s work in Kharkiv. Because of an air raid, the meeting continued in a shelter in the basement. Photo: LWF/ B. Pachuta 

LWF/C. Kästner-Meyer