Ukraine-Russia war: Millions of lives are at risk in Ukraine this winter, says WHO
- By George Wright and Catherine Byaruhanga
- BBC News
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the lives of millions of people in Ukraine will be at risk this winter.
Dr. Hans Henry P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said that half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been damaged and 10 million people are currently without electricity.
Temperatures are forecast to drop as low as -20°C (-4°F) in some areas.
The World Health Organization has recorded 703 attacks on Ukraine’s health infrastructure since the Russian occupation began.
Last week, Russia hit more energy facilities and civilian buildings in one of the heaviest aerial bombardments since the start of the war.
This is Russia’s latest tactic, which follows a string of battlefield failures, and the effects of which are becoming more acute as winter approaches.
“Simply put, this winter will be about survival,” Dr. Kluge said at a press conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
Ukraine’s health system is “facing the darkest days of the war” and the best solution is an end to the conflict, he added.
WHO’s Regional Director for Europe said hundreds of hospitals and other health facilities “are no longer fully functional, with no fuel, water or electricity to meet basic needs” following the Russian attacks.
The WHO reports that these attacks are disrupting the operation of hospitals, the circulation of ambulances and the provision of medical services.
Births need incubators, blood banks need refrigerators and intensive care beds need ventilators, Kluge said, “everyone needs energy.”
According to the WHO, up to three million people may leave their homes in search of warmth and safety.
Dr. Kluge said he was “very concerned” about the 17,000 HIV-positive patients living in Donetsk, who “could soon run out of essential antiretroviral drugs that help them survive.”
Most of the city of Donetsk is under Russian control, and Dr Kluge said it “urgently calls for the establishment of a humanitarian health corridor in all newly occupied and occupied territories”.
The increase in Covid-19 cases is also a cause for concern.
“Given low vaccination rates – not to mention booster shots – millions of Ukrainians have little or no immunity to Covid,” he said.
The warnings are for snow and sub-freezing temperatures across Ukraine.
Snow covers sidewalks, empty playgrounds and park benches in Kyiv. There are few people on the streets.
Despite the snowfall, winter has not officially started and temperatures are likely to drop further.
The Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which produces more than 25% of Ukraine’s electricity, is no longer producing power.
He was the target of new shootings over the weekend.
Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, condemned the attacks. According to him, this was another “disaster” at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
IAEA experts visited the site on Monday and the agency said they found extensive damage but no immediate concerns about nuclear safety or security.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of carrying out these attacks.
Ukrainian judicial authorities have released details of what they found four suspects in a torture cell in Kherson after Russian troops withdrew from the southern city.
They claim that people were “tortured”, using batons, bullets and electric shocks.
Last week, Ukraine said it found the bodies of 63 civilians with signs of torture near Kherson. The BBC also spoke to two men who said they had been held in “torture cells” for more than a month.
Russia denies any abuse during the occupation.