The International Rescue Committee (IRC) condemns last night’s attack on Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam and electric plant which aggravates already acute humanitarian needs in the Kherson and surrounding areas. 

The attack constitutes yet another serious violation of international humanitarian law, as the destruction of critical infrastructure triggered severe flooding of Dnipro’s riverside areas, causing severe losses among the civilian population.

Over the past year, countless people in the region have survived under constant shelling, without adequate access to medicines or electricity. The dam breach puts thousands at risk of losing their lives and homes, and could potentially deprive tens of thousands more of access to safe drinking water. 

It is often the most vulnerable populations who bear the brunt of these consequences, exacerbating their already precarious living conditions and further endangering their well-being. Without meaningful accountability for these violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of civilians, we will see acts of impunity like this become the norm.

Beyond the human cost of explosion, the attack contributes further to Ukraine’s environmental damage, now estimated at more than $50 billion. The destruction of major infrastructure continues to pose challenges in delivering and receiving aid. 

Giuliano Stochino Weiss, IRC’s Rapid Response Coordinator in Ukraine, said:

“The humanitarian fallout of Ukraine’s dam explosion is taking a heavy toll on 16,000 people directly affected by the flooding. We are deeply concerned about thousands of civilians who are likely to lose access to drinking water, and potential mass displacement fuelled by the breach. For the IRC and other humanitarian actors, the main priority right now is maintaining unfettered access to those in need of assistance.

“As the evacuations continue, we are expecting that countless people who have remained in the rural areas of Kherson to date and already suffered a year of intense hostilities, or who have recently returned to the region, will be forced out of their homes. 

“The IRC is gearing up to respond in Kherson City, currently at the frontline of evacuations, and further on in Mykolaiv, Zaporizhia, Dnipro and Odesa. We are deploying a rapid needs assessment team to determine how to best address the needs of affected communities over the next few weeks, focusing on protection and legal aid."