A humanitarian worker on the staff of long-time HIAS partner Right to Protection (R2P) was among the seven people killed in a missile attack on Chernihiv, Ukraine on Saturday, August 19. More than 150 people were injured in the midday attack, which left another R2P staff member wounded.
The deceased staff member, who has not been named, was originally from the Chernihiv region Northeast of Kyiv, and worked as a protection monitor on a field team of approximately 35 R2P employees based in the area. He was not on duty at the time, but was driving in a car with his son near the center of Chernihiv when the missile struck. He is survived by his wife and four children.
“We have all been trained and equipped to work in a war zone, but I always worry about our staff,” said R2P Director Oleksandr Galkin. “We understand the risks associated with our work and sometimes receive multiple air raid warnings a day, but this is the first time we have been affected like this.”
Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022, R2P has provided psychological aid, legal services and cash, food and non-food items for persons affected by the war. HIAS has worked in Ukraine since 2001 when an office was established to help asylum seekers and Ukrainian Jews seeking to migrate to the United States. Right to Protection was created as an independent Ukrainian NGO by HIAS in 2013, they began working with displaced persons when conflict broke out in the Donbass region in 2014. Before the war, R2P had 160 staff in Ukraine; that number has since increased to 1200.
“This horrible event reminds us of the courage and risk humanitarian workers take on, day and night, to reach and serve those in need,” said Raphael Marcus, HIAS Chief Programs Officer. “R2P is the embodiment of this humanitarian imperative and unfortunately now, also of the sacrifices it sometimes requires.”