Kyiv, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — When Russian forces launched a military campaign against infrastructure in Ukraine nearly two months ago, they opened a front that took the war to homes, schools, offices and churches — power, water across pipes and heating lines. System.
The government of Kyiv and Western countries, who have supported it with billions of dollars of military aid, are now fighting the United Nations as well as aid organizations for blankets, insulating materials, generators, medical supplies, cash and more. Winter is coming.
Martin Griffiths, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that millions of Ukrainians lack regular access to heat, electricity and water in sub-zero temperatures. Some don’t even have irregular access, he said.
“Today in Ukraine, the very survival of civilians is under attack,” Griffiths declared.
Despite high donor commitment to the rapid response and UN appeal for help, Ukrainians’ needs are rapidly changing and growing. Much has been made of the need for diesel generators whose engines create temporary electricity for cell phone towers, restaurants and especially hospitals, which are a top priority of the Ukrainian government.
The fact that lightning only comes on sporadically has huge implications. It deprives people of the use of electric heaters, light at night, and power for millions of electronic devices and computers in a highly digitized country, and therefore many livelihoods.
The Russian attacks disabled the arrival of gas, rendering ovens and stoves inoperable. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has advised residents of the capital to consider temporarily moving to rural areas, where some basics such as firewood for heating and cooking are more abundant.
In the worst-affected cities, some desperate residents collect dirty water from puddles in the street, while the public supply network is temporarily disabled.
Saviano Abreu, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ukraine (UNOCHA), said he had been able to collect hundreds of generators since June, taking into account the country’s harsh winter.
“We knew we would have problems with heating, water and electricity, but not on this scale,” Abreu said. He said supply chain issues have hindered procuring more equipment.
“In countries neighboring Ukraine, they are no longer available, so we are bringing it from far away at the moment,” he said.
UNOCHA announced last week that it would implement its “largest-ever cash assistance program” in Ukraine, totaling $1.7 billion for 6.3 million people. He assured that the experience of other countries has shown that distributing money directly to people to buy food, clothing and other basic items is an effective strategy.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is taking a different, longer-term approach. It meets Ukrainian government requests for large equipment such as power transformers, transformer substations, high-frequency switchgear, high-voltage inputs, surge arresters, industrial gas turbines, and other assets to help restore the power grid and power system. trying to make ends meet. ,
“Together with the World Bank, (we) are assessing all the damages and needs as a result of this attack on energy infrastructure in Ukraine,” said Jaco Cilliers, the programme’s interim resident representative in Ukraine. “We are in the process of putting it all together, which obviously includes the massive amount of equipment that will be needed for the restoration.”
“It’s a work in progress,” he said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week announced $53 million in bilateral aid to help Ukraine acquire “critical power grid equipment”, as well as $55 million for generators to support energy sector emergencies Gave another amount.
The European Union announced last month that it had provided 523 million euros (about $550 million) in humanitarian aid for Ukraine, and the United States pledged another $1.2 billion following a request by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordination Agency. Have done
Christoph Trebesch, who leads the Ukraine support team at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany, said: “EU governments must now ensure that announced aid reaches Ukraine as quickly as possible, after delays of several months in previous packages.” without.”
A spokeswoman for the EU executive commission wrote in an email that more than a quarter of the funds made available for humanitarian aid have already been allocated, mainly for the so-called “winter shelter response”.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has also dispatched fire trucks, ambulances, mine clearance teams, food supplies, mobile hospitals, bulldozers and Bailey Bridges, which are pre-fabricated portable bridges.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has launched a campaign for private charity called United24. United24’s wish list includes ambulances, anesthesia machines and more than 7,800 “modular external fixators,” which are medical devices to help mend broken bones.
There are big and small donors. The German city of Dortmund has sent a third batch of support, including vans, trucks and other vehicles, to the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. There’s a truck that travels from the small British town of Hertford to make deliveries every two months, packed with medical supplies, food and now, Christmas presents for Ukrainian children.
And despite Ukraine’s enormous needs, there are times when there is too much help, especially for clothing. The Help Ukraine Centre, a volunteer group that brings in donations from its main warehouse in neighboring Poland, wrote to donors: “No more clothes, please.” The center is shifting its focus to other products, such as medical items, food and hygiene products.
Eric Heinonen, who works for the Catholic Relief Services charity in Ukraine, said small items like propane stoves can have a big impact.
“If you’re a mom with young children, you’re concerned about how to reheat food,” she explained. “‘It would be great to shower my kids’ … So, it’s like the most basic thing to get me through the day.”