Winter comes to Ukraine
It has already been below freezing at night in eastern Ukraine. The same is expected this week in Kyiv, and there is likely to be snow soon too. Because of deliberate destruction of electric power infrastructure by Russia 40% of the population of Ukraine are experiencing rolling blackouts, with Kyiv city and region among the hardest hit regions, with no electricity twelve hours out of 24. Oil depots and central heating stations have also been hit and are out of commission. Many villages and towns in occupied and recently liberated areas have no electricity, water or gas supply at all. In many occupied areas humanitarian supplies are not being allowed in by the occupiers. The newly liberated city of Kherson was reported today to have no water, medicines or bread. Homes have been destroyed as well and people in many parts of Ukraine are living in what is left of their homes or have sought refuge elsewhere. Refugees are being asked not to return to Ukraine this winter as the infrastructure is under such stress.
Our partner organisations in Ukraine have risen to the challenge of course! They are helping to repair windows, insulate homes, provide solid fuel stoves for heat and cooking, water storage containers, petrol generators, power banks for charging phones, bedding, electric blankets and warm clothes – any cold-busting kit that can help people survive the winter. Others are buying fabric to make into warm clothing, or providing first aid training and fire safety training (important in a winter when improvised heating will be in use). The BEARR Trust is providing funds for this kind of assistance, including for a generator and associated lighting for displaced elderly people from a hospice near Kyiv, now in western Ukraine.
Our partner civil society organisations and volunteers in Ukraine are continuing to provide food, clothing, medicines, baby gear, and so on to families, elderly people and wounded people. They also give psychological support to displaced people, especially those who have escaped from occupied areas. Anyone who watched the BBC Panorama programme on “Mariupol – the people’s story “ last week will be able to begin to grasp the extent of psychological trauma that most Ukrainians are going through. (It can be viewed on iPlayer, but only in the UK.) Art therapy sessions for children are popular and one partner recently celebrated ‘Mouse Day’, with children drawing mice and bringing in their toy mice. In Moldova our partners are also continuing to provide hot meals, school equipment and therapy for refugees from Ukraine.
Our donors have also risen to the challenge. Our winter appeal, and our fundraising lecture on “Putin’s War: What’s the Endgame?” by Edward Lucas on 7 November (the video of which will soon be available on our website and Youtube), have ensured that we still have sufficient funds to respond to requests for help. In total, our Ukraine appeal has raised over £350,000, of which 85% has already been disbursed to around 60 civil society and voluntary organisations. These funds have helped to provide a lifeline to very many people.
We plan to continue to support them, funds permitting, for as long as we can. Many of our partners have no other sources of funds and depend on us. They will also be suffering great deprivation in the coming months and we very much want to help them continue their brilliant work.