Ukraine’s government has told Ukrainian citizens not to panic after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned the public on Monday that “winter will be life-threatening.”
In a statement Monday, the WHO warned that the power situation in Ukraine is so dire that it will be “life-threatening” for millions of Ukrainians.
The United Nations health organization cited the recent devastating series of air attacks by Russia on the national energy grid.
Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, issued a grim warning for the people of Ukraine.
“Put simply – this winter will be about survival,” Kluge said from the Ukrainian capital.
“This winter will be life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine,” he added.
The attacks, the last major wave of which came this past Tuesday and continued intermittently into the weekend, are “already having knock-out effects on the health system and on the people’s health,” Kluge described.
“Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health care facilities are no longer fully operational,” the WHO official said.
“We expect two to three million more people to leave their homes in search of warmth and safety,” he forewarned.
Last Friday, Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal estimated that half of the entirety of the country’s energy infrastructure has been disabled by the Russian attacks at this point.
Millions are already without power as temperatures plunge.
The news comes as Kyiv saw its first snow of the season starting a few days ago.
“Unfortunately Russia continues to carry out missile strikes on Ukraine’s civilian and critical infrastructure,” Shmyhal was cited in Reuters as saying.
“Almost half of our energy system is disabled.”
Politico reported last week that Congressional leaders had been given classified intelligence reports detailing the expected impact of Russia’s campaign to degrade Ukraine’s power grid.
“The Ukrainian government is warning Western allies that it is anticipating increased Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure in the coming days and that Kyiv does not have enough replacement parts to bring heat and power back online if those occur, according to two congressional officials and one Western official briefed on U.S. intelligence,” the report said.
Politico detailed further that “Ukrainian officials have in recent days asked their American counterparts and more than half a dozen European countries for assistance preparing for a prolonged period with limited electricity and gas — a scenario Kyiv expects to complicate fighting on the ground and displace civilians, the officials and an adviser to the Ukrainian government said.”
Amid emergency rolling blackouts and city or regional mandates banning the use of large appliances and other imposed consumption limits, Ukrainian government officials are urging the public not to panic.
“Denying the panicky statements spread by social networks and online media, we assure you that the situation with the energy supply is difficult, but under control,” the energy ministry said in a Saturday statement.