The UN top aid official has issued a grave warning, stating that the humanitarian situation in Ukraine has significantly worsened since the collapse of the Kakhovka dam. Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths described the current state as “hugely worse” than before the dam’s failure. Emphasizing that an unprecedented 700,000 people are now in urgent need of drinking water. He further cautioned that the devastating floods in this crucial agricultural region would likely result in reduced grain exports, higher global food prices, and increased hunger among millions.
The rupture of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam occurred on Wednesday. Exacerbating the suffering in a region already plagued by more than a year of artillery and missile attacks. While Ukraine controls the western bank of the Dnieper River, Russian forces occupy the low-lying eastern side. That is more susceptible to flooding. The dam and its reservoir, essential for providing fresh water and irrigation in southern Ukraine, are situated in the Kherson region. Which Russia unlawfully annexed in September and has occupied since.
Griffiths revealed that the United Nations primarily works through Ukrainian aid organizations. It has managed to reach 30,000 people in the flooded areas under Ukrainian control. However, he expressed concern that Russia has not granted access to the areas it oversees, hindering the UN’s efforts to assist flood victims.
Diplomatic Efforts for Aid: Griffiths meets with Russia’s UN ambassador
In an attempt to address this issue, Griffiths disclosed that he met with Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, on Wednesday, urging Russian authorities to allow UN teams to provide aid and support to affected Ukrainians across the front lines. The UN is currently sharing detailed information with Moscow, hoping for a positive response that would enable them to offer assistance effectively.
While the immediate emergency response is crucial for saving lives, Griffiths emphasized the pressing need for a long-term solution to the lack of proper drinking water affecting the 700,000 people on both sides of the river. Additionally, the flooding has led to the submergence of significant agricultural land and poses a serious challenge in providing cooling water to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, which previously relied on the dam for its water supply.
The international community is closely monitoring the unfolding crisis in Ukraine and its far-reaching consequences. Urgent action and collaboration are required to alleviate the suffering of those affected, address the water shortage, and prevent further escalation of the humanitarian catastrophe.