LVIV, Ukraine. – Since last week, more than 150 people, including five newborn American and British babies, have been rescued and safely evacuated from Ukraine by Project DYNAMO, including over 100 from Kherson, which has been under total Russian occupation and siege in the south.
The Black Sea port city of Kherson is just north of Russian-annexed Crimea and has been heavily bombed, attacked, and now occupied by Russian forces since early March. On the second day of Russia’s invasion and attack of Kherson, civilians and medical personnel were being targeted by Russian forces, including the bombing of local hospitals and indiscriminate attacks on ambulances and other vehicles.
Deploying eight cars and three buses from their fleet, the Project DYNAMO team conducted another APOLLO mission meeting evacuees at their homes and various rally points throughout Kherson before leaving for Mykolaiv. The rescue team and evacuees needed to avoid artillery shelling and mine-laced evacuation routes as they traversed through more than half a dozen heavily controlled Russian military checkpoints and over 40 Ukrainian checkpoints from Kherson to Mykolaiv. This 100-kilometer journey, which prior to the war would have taken less than an hour to complete, took nearly six hours to execute while exfiltrating the evacuees.
From Mykolaiv, some of those rescued were evacuated immediately out of Ukraine through Poland, while the majority were secured at an undisclosed safe location operated by Project DYNAMO until Thursday morning when they were evacuated to Romania.
Those rescued were men, women, children, elderly civilians, and their pets.
Additionally, Project DYNAMO conducted multiple GEMINI operations, safely evacuating one British baby and four American babies, who were born to Ukrainian surrogate mothers. The GEMINI operations were separate and in addition to the large Kherson APOLLO operation and another separate APOLLO mission. The babies were delivered days earlier and introduced to their American and British families in Ukraine near the border Wednesday night before all parties were evacuated back into Poland.
The Kherson operation took a week to plan and less than 24 hours to execute with each evacuee now safely across the border from Ukraine.
“As with most of the rescue missions in non-permissive and dangerous areas, the timing is critically important; we have to operate within these small windows of opportunity,” said Bryan Stern, co-founder of Project DYNAMO. “For example, if we would have tried to conduct this rescue operation today, we would have been unable to get these people out due to the deteriorating situation on the ground and significant increase in violence by the Russian forces.”
Just hours after Project DYNAMO’s evacuation from Kherson, Russian troops ordered and prohibited all civilians from evacuating the city in what some military experts are claiming is an attempt to deter Ukrainian attacks by using innocent civilians as cover or human shields to mitigate Ukrainian artillery and the ground forces counter-offensive.
With the completion of these latest evacuations, Project DYNAMO has now rescued more than 550 people from the most war-torn, contested, and Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine and transported them safely to neighboring countries.
Anyone in need of evacuation is urged to register at projectdynamo.org and register for the U.S. State Department’s STEP program.
Those interested in donating to or learning more about Project DYNAMO can do so by visiting www.projectdynamo.org.
About Project Dynamo:
Derived from “Operation Dynamo,” the codename issued to the Dunkirk evacuation operation of World War II, Project Dynamo is a privately run, donor-funded evacuation operation being run by extraordinary civilians attempting to do the impossible — rescue Americans and their allies from hostile regions of the world.