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Cincinnatians have donated more than $400,000 for sister city Kharkiv

People fleeing the village of Ruska Lozova arrive at a screening point in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 29, 2022.
Felipe Dana
/
AP
People fleeing the village of Ruska Lozova arrive at a screening point in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 29, 2022. Hundreds of residents have been evacuated to Kharkiv from the nearby village that had been under Russian occupation for more than a month.

The president of the Cincinnati Kharkiv Sister City Partnership says most of their close contacts have left the embattled city. Bob Herring says Kharkiv is still in Ukrainian hands, but many people have evacuated.

"They're in various parts of Western Ukraine; one's in Slovakia, one's in Hungary, one's in France. The people left in Kharkiv are people that we worked with, but on a different level than the folks we hosted in our homes," he says. "There are some folks left in Kharkiv, and it's tough. The daily bombardment, and the living in the basements, it's tough."

Around Cincinnati, it's not unusual to see Ukrainian flags still flying. There were many flown during the Reds' Opening Day parade. Herring says local interest has been helped partly by social media making the war and the atrocities readily available, but he says there's a stronger tie.

"It certainly demonstrates peoples' support for a free and independent country, a country that embraces democracy, a country that embraces civil rights, a country that's looking to have the same, in a sense, political system, the same values that we have. And when that's under threat, people who share those values come together."

Herring says the local response to relief efforts has been incredible. He says so far, people have donated more than $400,000 for humanitarian assistance for Kharkiv. He says that surpasses their goals.