Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, has been severely affected by the Russian offensive. While many of the 1.8 million people who lived in Kharkiv before the war broke out have fled, some 350,000 who were unwilling or unable to leave remain in the city, according to local authorities.
Many have taken refuge in underground subway stations to escape the incessant bombing. Trapped underground, they are cut off from essential services, including health care. From children who are too afraid to fall asleep to people who feel like they can’t breathe to patients with high blood pressure at risk of stroke, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mobile clinics working in several stations on three of Kharkiv’s subway lines are treating a wide range of health conditions, both pre-existing and related to or exacerbated by the conflict.
Here, MSF doctor Morten Rostrup describes his experiences caring for patients in the tunnels beneath the city.