Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : British Ambassador visits Chernihiv to see recovery after Russian occupation [October 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 12 October 2023.

British Ambassador to Ukraine Martin Harris visited Chernihiv region in Northern Ukraine to witness how local communities return to peaceful life and rebuild after being occupied by Russian forces.

The Ambassador started his visit in a village of Yahidne. During the occupation, Russians kept almost all villagers – 360 people, including a 6 week old child – in the basement of a former elementary school. The building has since been converted into a museum, which the Ambassador visited. Martin Harris spoke to the survivors and the head of the hromada (territorial community) about the experiences of living under occupation.

In Ivanivka, hromada’s administrative centre, Martin Harris had a tour around the reconstructed sites once destroyed by shelling, including the administrative building, public services centre, and a local school. These reconstructions have been completed with the support of Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine, where the UK is one of the leading donors.

In Chernihiv region, PFRU selected 52 sites for early recovery based on the extent of damage and the priorities identified by the local government and communities. To date, 30 sites have been completed, including: eleven schools, four village governance institutions, two medical facilities, two shelters, four cultural development centres, five water and energy sites, a university, and a delivery of a CCTV system to aid in the preparedness for rapid evacuation in the case of incursions.

In Chernihiv, Martin Harris met with governor of the region Vyacheslav Chaus and his team, civil society and local entrepreneurs to discuss their engagement in recovery. He also visited city hospital No 3 that PFRU helped to rebuild and equip after the siege of Chernihiv in March 2022.

He also went to a local musical and drama theatre that was severely damaged by a Russian missile on 19 August, injuring 156 people and killing seven, including a six-year-old girl. He spoke to the theatre company and director and witnessed the outcomes of the damage and commemorated the victims of the strike.

Martin Harris said:

For me, Chernihiv’s theatre is a metaphor of resilience of the whole region. Despite substantial damage from a horrific Russian rocket attack in August, they have opened the autumn season just last Friday and performed to the public. I admire their spirit and determination to keep promoting Ukraine’s culture and inspiring the city’s residents.

The UK is actively engaged in helping Ukraine rebuild, providing necessary aid with our partners via the Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine to cover urgent needs of local communities. We will continue supporting Ukraine to be victorious and fully recover from Russia’s war.

Note to the editors.

Bordering Russia and Belarus, Chernihiv region was one of the key axes of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Parts of it were occupied between 24 February and 3 April 2022.

The occupation of Yahidne started in early March 2022. Almost the entire population of Yahidne – more than 360 villagers – were ordered into the school basement. They received no adequate food, water, or air supply. They spent 27 days there, with 16 people dying as a result.  Now this site is turned into a museum.

Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine (PFRU) is jointly funded by the UK, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. The project aims to coordinate and align stabilisation efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s resilience against Russia’s ongoing war of aggression.