Ukraine war turns renowned cultural hub into humanitarian centre

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By Valerie Gauriat
Volunteers sort donations at a humanitarian centre in Lviv, western Ukraine
Volunteers sort donations at a humanitarian centre in Lviv, western Ukraine   -   Copyright  Credit: Euronews

The national art gallery in Lviv, western Ukraine, is one of the country's renowned cultural hubs.

But the war has turned its 9,000 square metres into a buzzing humanitarian centre.

Day and night, goods arrive from across the world. They are processed here for refugees who have fled to Lviv from other parts of Ukraine.

Several tonnes of food, clothes, medicine, or even toys, are also shipped out daily in vans or trucks to cities most stricken by Russian air strikes.

Coming from all parts of the country, volunteers work around the clock.

“We have a couple of hundred volunteers at any given moment here around and everyone is helping," said Yuriy Popovich, a coordinator at the centre.

"Many people have lost their job because of [the] war. Many businesses stopped operating, so people don't want to stay home, [they] just want to do something that can be helpful."

Yaroslav Kormushin, a volunteer at the centre, was a software engineer before the war started.

“So here’s the storage," said Kormushin. "Stuff related to newborns, kids nutrition. Back there we have long term storage for food.”

Parcels are sent daily to both civilians in need and soldiers on the frontline

“We have a lot of kids write to us, and write us letters," said Kormushin. "We’re sending them in boxes to our troops.

"That kid is very sure that we will win. So we can’t have any thoughts about not winning. We must win.”

But moral and humanitarian help must be backed by urgent political decisions, say all those I meet at the centre, urging western leaders to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Solomiya Terebukh has come to volunteer in Lviv after fleeing her home in Kyiv with her family.

“We are like under a shower of bombs," said Terebukh. "What we really need now, us Ukrainians, is for the sky to be closed. Close our air space. Please help us, because for our children, what is happening is terrible. We worry each day that we wake up, not knowing where the next bomb will fall.”