Two years of war in Ukraine: Belgium invests 150 million euros in the reconstruction of Chernihiv

Belgium will contribute 150 million euros over four years to the reconstruction of Chernihiv and its region. Minister for Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez announced this on Friday during the second day of her mission to Ukraine.

Chernihiv is located about 70 kilometres from Belarus and 80 kilometres from Russia. The Russians have heavily attacked the city. In August 2022, the city centre was also hit, leaving seven dead and a hundred wounded. Chernihiv was cut off from the world for about eight days after a bridge was destroyed before the Ukrainian army liberated it in early April 2022.


According to local authorities, after Kharkiv and Mariupol, Chernihiv was the hardest hit by Russian bombing at the start of the war. The damage is not only material but also human. Some 15 per cent of the 300,000 inhabitants have not returned.

Several thousand children fled with their mothers and stayed in other parts of the country or abroad. Of the 10,000 children enrolled in kindergartens before 24 February, only 7,000 remain. And of the 30,000 students in schools, 27,000 remain.

Along with health and training, education is one of the sectors in which Belgium will invest. About 90 per cent of the infrastructure was damaged, and even two schools were deliberately destroyed, according to the deputy mayor in charge of education, Vassyl Bilochura. "They were targeted to scare people," Bilochura said during Gennez's visit to the ruins.


Reconstruction will take account of the war. For example, new schools will have safe rooms. Belgium was one of the first donors to finance some of these emergency shelters in Chernihiv. It has also funded UNICEF initiatives to implement these adaptations.

"Ukraine will win this war not only on the front line but also through the resistance of its people. Support for civilian needs is essential to enable Ukrainians to resist and believe in the future," said Gennez.

Enabel, the Belgian agency responsible for development cooperation, will oversee the project, which will start later this year. Once a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Ukrainian authorities, it will soon open an office in Kyiv.


Minister for Development Cooperation and Metropolitan Policy Caroline Gennez visits a destroyed health center in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Friday 23 February 2024. © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS BARAS

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