Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have sparked “a new level of need” in the war-torn country, the UN aid chief said on Tuesday, warning that millions of people are without heat as temperatures drop.
Nearly half of Ukraine’s energy system has been damaged after months of systematic Russian strikes on power infrastructure, with fresh attacks carried out on Monday.
“Since October, the sustained attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have created a new level of need that impacts the whole country and exacerbates the needs caused by the war,” Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told the UN Security Council.
The destruction requires more support from the international community to Ukraine, he said, underscoring that loss of energy infrastructure has “left millions of people without access to heat, electricity and water,” with temperatures expected to plunge to below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).
“In Ukraine today, the ability of civilians to survive is under attack,” he added.
Griffiths warned that more people risked being displaced by the conflict, which he said has already forced 14 million people from their homes, including 6.5 million within Ukraine and more than 7.8 million who fled the country.
The French ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, accused Russia of “using winter as a weapon of war.”
The UN humanitarian agency has made a record-breaking appeal for $51.5 billion in funds for 2023 to address soaring humanitarian needs worldwide, driven by the conflict in Ukraine and climate change.
Griffiths on Tuesday said it would be a challenge to meet the appeal, but underscored “urgent needs” in a “world gone mad, which sees one in 23 people in need of humanitarian assistance around the globe.”
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