A wave of Russian attacks on critical energy infrastructure has left some Ukrainian communities without access to heat, water and electricity.
Now the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are concerned about the effects of the cold weather as it sets in.
“We are very concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the continued attacks on our energy infrastructure,” UN OCHA spokeswoman Anna Jeffries said in an email to CNN.
Russian missile and drone attacks have targeted Ukraine’s power plants and distribution grid in recent weeks, leading to rolling blackouts and water supply disruptions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than a third of the country’s energy sector had been destroyed.
Jeffries said the United Nations was particularly concerned about people who had been staying at homes near the front lines in Ukraine.
“We are particularly concerned that people in the eastern and southern states have been left completely traumatized by months of relentless shelling,” she said. “Their coping capacity is fading.”
The ICRC echoed the UN’s concerns, telling CNN that attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure would lead to “severe suffering”, which could worsen as temperatures cool.
“Across Ukraine, the electricity grid is directly connected to the water system, which means that if electricity is lost, residents will not have access to water in their homes or businesses,” he said in an email.
“This is already causing serious suffering to the civilian population as temperatures have started to drop significantly.
“As winter approaches, people across the country will struggle to meet basic needs such as getting clean drinking water, staying warm, using electricity and cooking.” warned Despres, adding, “The need is enormous.”