Millions of lives under threat in Ukraine this winter – WHO

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The lives of millions will be under threat in Ukraine this winter, the World Health Organization has said.

Half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is either damaged or destroyed, and 10 million are currently without power, said Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe.

Temperatures are predicted to plummet as low as -20C (-4F) in some areas.

The WHO has documented 703 attacks on health infrastructure since Russia’s invasion began.

Last week, Russia hit more energy installations and civilian buildings in one of its heaviest aerial bombardments of the war.

This has been a recent Russian tactic following setbacks on the battlefield, and its impact is starting to be felt more acutely as winter sets in.

“Put simply, this winter will be about survival,” Kluge told a news conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

Ukraine’s health system is “facing its darkest days in the war so far”, and the best solution is for the conflict to end, he added.

Due to the attacks, hundreds of hospitals and healthcare facilities are “no longer fully operational, lacking fuel, water, and electricity to meet basic needs”, he said. The 703 attacks include violence as well as threatened violence against hospitals, ambulances and medical supplies, according to the WHO.

Maternity wards need incubators, blood banks need refrigerators and intensive care beds need ventilators, Kluge said, adding that “all require energy”.

Up to three million people could flee their homes in search of warmth and safety, the WHO says.

Agencies

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