City as Refuge

As war has consumed Eastern Ukraine, more than a million people have been forced from their homes. Fear, destruction, persecution, and loss of work are among the reasons that residents have had to flee. 

Outside of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions where most of the fighting has been concentrated, more Ukrainians have fled to the Kharkiv area than anywhere else within Ukraine, primarily to the regional capital city, also called Kharkiv. Cities like Kharkiv, the country's second largest after the capital Kiev, offer IDPs many of the services and opportunities that are no longer available in the places from which they come: health and social services, jobs, even fundamentals such as housing, electricity, clean water, and food. Cities are a refuge and for those with nothing, the city represents hope of a new life.

However cities will now also be faced with their own challenges to cope with the influx of people.  Job competition, housing shortages and increasing prices due to higher demand are putting a strain on the cities' existing residents, creating tensions and a need for solutions.
  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/60, ISO: 2500)

    A boy plays hide-and-seek at Romashka, a summer camp where he and several hundred other people live after being displaced by fighting in Eastern Ukraine. February 13, 2015 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 3.2, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 1600)

    Olga and her son Igor, who were both displaced by fighting in Eastern Ukraine, at their temporary home at the summer camp called Romashka. February 12, 2015 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 8, Shutter: 1/250, ISO: 1600)

    People who fled fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces exit the canteen at the Perlyna Donetchyny children's resort, where they are temporarily seeking refuge. February 9, 2015 in Svyatogorsk, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 2.8, Shutter: 1/60, ISO: 3200)

    People displaced by fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine inside a tent where they can receive free second-hand clothes, a service offered at a processing center for internally displaced people located at the train station. February 9, 2015 in Slovyansk, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 9, Shutter: 1/200, ISO: 800)

    People displaced by fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine wait outside a tent to receive free second-hand clothes at a processing center for internally displaced people located at the train station. February 9, 2015 in Slovyansk, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 8, Shutter: 1/200, ISO: 320)

    Luggage belonging to people displaced by fighting around the town of Debaltseve upon the group's arrival by train. The group spent several hours in Kharkiv before boarding a train that will take them to Lviv, on the Western side of the country. February 12, 2015 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 3.2, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 2500)

    A girl displaced by fighting around the town of Debaltseve sits on a couch in the train station. February 12, 2015 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 3.5, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 2500)

    Irina Protsenko, displaced by fighting around the town of Debaltseve, hugs her son upon the boy's arrival by train. Irina has been in the hospital in Kharkiv with a spinal injury that prevents her from traveling; her three children arrived in Kharkiv by train as part of an organized evacuation of women and children, and saw their mother for the first time in weeks. The children will continue on from Kharkiv to the city of Lviv. February 12, 2015 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 8, Shutter: 1/250, ISO: 500)

    People walk on the platform near a train housing dozens of people who fled heavy fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces. February 9, 2015 in Slovyansk, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 3.5, Shutter: 1/200, ISO: 2500)

    Members of the Ryzhkov family, all of whom fled fighting in the heavily-contested town of Debaltseve, inside the train car where they are living with other members of their extended family at the train station. February 9, 2015 in Slovyansk, Ukraine.

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 5, Shutter: 1/200, ISO: 1000)

    Children displaced by fighting around the town of Debaltseve look around at the train station where they've arrived. February 12, 2015 in Kharkiv, Ukraine

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  • City as Refuge

    Brendan Hoffman

    City as Refuge

    Sony α7R, 35mm f/2.8 lens (F-Stop: 8, Shutter: 1/250, ISO: 640)

    The Holy Mountains Lavra, a famous Orthodox Christian monastery, the centerpiece of the town now housing many people who have fled fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces. February 9, 2015 in Svyatogorsk,

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About Brendan Hoffman

Brendan’s career began in Washington, DC, where he spent seven years covering American politics – from the White House to Congress to presidential campaigns – for clients such as TIME, The New York Times, and Getty Images.

In 2013 Brendan indulged his interest in the former Soviet Union and moved to Moscow in pursuit of a wider variety of stories. The revolution and subsequent war in Ukraine drew him in, and he is currently based in Kiev, where he covers the conflict and photographs editorial features in the region.

For more on Brendab Hoffman, visit his page here

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