With water pipes damaged by fighting and many parts of eastern Ukraine completely cut off from water supplies, dehydrated people have resorted to drinking melted snow.
The international aid organisation CARE is supporting its partner, People in Need, to send water containers into Ukraine from the Czech Republic.
CARE’s Andrea Barschdorf-Hager in Austria said: “In addition to the ongoing danger from attacks, Ukrainian civilians must cope with increasingly scarce vital resources. Water has become a highly contested commodity. People are dehydrated, they have to collect rainwater or resort to melting snow.”
In many parts of the country there are wells and reservoirs, so the containers from People in Need will help people collect and store water. In places where there are no local water sources, water tankers and bottled water are being sent in.
Seven trains carrying food, hygiene items, sleeping bags, mattresses and medical aid have already arrived in the city of Dnipro. Other relief supplies have been transported in trucks to Kharkiv, the Donetsk region and other places in the east. As soon as safe passage for humanitarian agencies is guaranteed, supplies will be sent to the besieged port city of Mariupol.
CARE and People in Need are supplying dozens of shelters in western Ukraine with blankets, sleeping bags, mattresses, kitchen utensils, stoves, pots, food, baby food and hygiene kits.
A mental health counseling center has also been established, with specialised personnel and a mobile counseling team which can visit remote locations.
“Many of the people in the shelters have experienced significant trauma. They have been forced to hide from attacks. They have said goodbye to loved ones or witnessed violence and the suffering that goes with it,” Ms Barschdorf-Hager said.
With more than 3 million people having fled Ukraine in recent weeks, CARE, People in Need and other partners are also supporting refugees in neighbouring countries.
The majority of people fleeing are women and children, many of whom have traveled days in freezing temperatures. The organisations have set up warm and safe spaces at border crossings where people can have a hot meal and get information and support.
CARE is also calling for more to be done to reduce the risk of human trafficking and meet the specific needs of women and girls in the conflict.
Donate to CARE Australia’s Ukraine crisis appeal
For interviews, photos and other media resources, contact Iona Salter on 0413 185 634