IOM Rushes Aid to Thousands Affected by Ukraine Dam Destruction
06 June 2023 (Geneva/Kyiv) - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is responding to the urgent needs of people affected by the destruction of Kakhovka dam in Ukraine’s Kherson Region.
With vital infrastructure severely damaged and an environmental disaster looming, IOM is bringing clean water supplies to areas receiving evacuated people and working with the Government of Ukraine to assess what additional support may be needed in the coming days and weeks.
“This attack has put thousands of lives at risk, caused severe environmental damage and led to further serious strain on response services in a country already dealing with the humanitarian fallout of more than a year of war,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.
Last night, a dam holding back Kakhovka Reservoir on the Dnipro River was severely damaged causing huge quantities of water to surge downriver. Kherson city - still recovering from heavy fighting in late 2022 - is downstream from the dam and is already partially flooded. Residents in affected communities have been urged to evacuate the area and Ukrainian authorities indicated that more than 16,000 people are in the ‘critical zone’ on the Ukrainian-controlled western bank of the Dnipro River.
“Public infrastructure should never be a target. Yet now, innocent civilians are not only living in a deadly flood zone but are set to face major shortages of clean water and critical energy supplies over the coming weeks, as the humanitarian situation in worsens,” added IOM’s Vitorino.
In addition to the threat to life and the environmental damage, the dam is both close to a nuclear power plant and the front line, raising additional safety concerns. This incident is also expected to affect the water supply to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and other areas of Ukraine, as well as the cooling systems of the nearby Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Initial assessments by IOM - the largest humanitarian organization operating in Ukraine - indicate that drinking water and food are among the priority needs. In coordination with local authorities, IOM plans to expand water and sanitation support, distribute emergency items, support collective centers and provide health care.
Given the effect on water supplies and the likelihood of flooding, waterborne diseases pose a serious threat. IOM is ready to support infection prevention and control measures, for example, through the distribution of cholera kits.
"Despite the devastation caused by the war and the challenges posed, we must invest in Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction. While meeting the emergency needs, we must also keep a sharp focus on Ukraine’s peaceful future,” said Director General Vitorino.