As the IRC continues its needs assessment in five oblasts, the initial results show that 25% of respondents did not have access to sufficient heating at time of interview, while 61.3% reported that their houses were in need of repair. The renewed waves of shelling last week severely impacted energy infrastructure and knocked out power in major cities, including Kyiv and Kharkiv, home to some of IRC’s teams, plunging vast parts of the country into darkness.

The power, electricity, heating and water outages caused by ongoing attacks on civilian infrastructure are continuing to impact millions of people across Ukraine and severely impede humanitarian activities on the ground. With no internet or phone network, humanitarian workers are unable to communicate with local partners, suppliers and clients for long hours, which further hinders delivery of life-saving assistance.

Michael Despines, IRC’s Regional Director for the Ukraine Crisis, said:

“Our teams are determined to stay and deliver, amidst blackouts and freezing winter temperatures. To date, thousands of people in Ukraine have received IRC’s emergency kits of basic essential items, including sleeping bags and warm blankets. One client told us the blankets distributed by the IRC are very useful to the families when they need to seek refuge in the bomb shelters, ‘because it’s cold there, especially when there’s no electricity.’

“Our clients repeatedly tell us they are worried about making it through the winter months. People's capacity to cope with cold is further impaired by the destruction and failure of critical infrastructure, lack of heating and electricity, and the trauma of living under constant shelling. We are seriously concerned that these compounded factors will lead to a serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation and spark further displacement - and increase vulnerabilities of those who are forced to stay.

“On top of conflict-related destruction, low temperatures can cause damage to power lines and failure of heating systems, putting the entire population at even more risk. 25% of people we have spoken to do not have access to sufficient heating. Over 60% reported their houses have been damaged, as the current weather conditions and ongoing shelling make it impossible to repair both individual homes and collective shelters for the displaced people.

 “Robust international support has prevented the worst case scenario from occurring in Ukraine, but that will only remain true as long as donors continue to adequately support the humanitarian response. We are in a race against the clock as the temperatures plummet across Ukraine - people are freezing and we need to do more.”

How the IRC has been helping in Ukraine:

The IRC launched an emergency response to the war in Ukraine in February 2022, working directly and with local partners to reach those most in need. In Ukraine, we are focusing our response in the conflict-affected areas in the east and southeast. We are distributing essential non-food items, providing cash assistance to the most vulnerable households, improving access to health care, and providing a variety of tailor-made protection services, including safe spaces for women and children. Our emergency programmes are also active on the ground in Poland and Moldova. Responding along the entire arc of the crisis, we are running  activities targeting Ukrainian refugees in Romania,  Hungary,  Slovakia,  Czechia and Bulgaria, as well as in Germany, Italy, Greece and the UK.