The new wave of airstrikes hitting Ukraine’s key infrastructure continues to raise serious protection concerns for civilians, who are paying the highest cost for the ongoing war. More than seven million Ukrainians were left with no access to electricity. This is all the more concerning for the 17.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the country as temperatures plummet.
IRC teams report that the most recent wave of violence which has swept across the country, coupled with the prediction of a severe winter, threatens to displace even more people, intensifying the crisis and exacerbating already dire humanitarian needs. Shelling has decimated key infrastructure, with Ukraine’s power grids and supplies sustaining significant damage, resulting in blackouts becoming a daily reality for Ukrainians. Against this backdrop, the IRC reiterates that civilians and civilian infrastructure are not targets and humanitarian organizations struggle to meet critical needs and save lives under a barrage of missile attacks.
Marysia Zapasnik, Country Director at the International Rescue Committee, said, “The recent intensification of conflict has caused significant damage to public infrastructure in many parts of Ukraine, leaving civilians across the country without access to gas, electricity, or centralized heating systems. With winter arriving, many Ukrainians are living in damaged homes without insulation or access to power or heating, or in buildings that cannot sufficiently protect them from harsh winter weather and temperatures. In response to the upcoming winter needs in the country, together with our local partners, the IRC has started distributing essential winter items, including blankets and heaters.”
The IRC launched an emergency response to the crisis in Ukraine in February 2022, working directly and with local partners to reach those most in need. In Ukraine, IRC is focusing its response on the conflict-affected areas in the east and southeast. IRC is distributing essential non-food items, provides cash assistance to the most vulnerable households, improves access to health care, and provides a variety of tailor-made protection services, including safe spaces for women and children. The IRC is supporting people fleeing Ukraine in Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria. The organization is also running programs targeting Ukrainian refugees in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the UK.