Four and a half months after the Russian invasion, Ukrainian settlements continue to be subjected to artillery and rocket attacks. Senior UN officials have long called for the creation of humanitarian corridors to ensure the safe and uninterrupted delivery of aid to Ukraine’s most vulnerable populations. However, access to many areas remains blocked.
“As soon as the humanitarian corridors open, we will immediately go there,” said Dr. Dorit Nitzan, WHO emergency Director in Ukraine, speaking via video link from Odessa. According to her, among those who need immediate help, there are people with chronic but curable diseases.
“These are patients who failed early diagnosis and treatment for cancer, who now have advanced tumours and other severe complications,” said Dr. Nitzan. “These are people who do not have access to drugs for hypertension and who now suffer from heart failure or have had a stroke. These are diabetics whose condition has seriously deteriorated due to lack of medication.”
The WHO representative reported that many areas are now under fire and the situation there is rapidly changing: “ This morning we had to go to Mykolaiv (Nikolaev). We waited a long time for permission from the security service. Last night everything was fine, but today everything is different, the trip is cancelled.”
If WHO specialists are not given access to seriously ill patients, many of them will die. “Once again, we urge that humanitarian corridors be opened for us,” said Dr. Nitzan.
The World Health Organization is concerned not only with the purely medical, but also with the psychological component of the war: people suffer from fear, grief and insecurity.
While the majority of active fighting is in eastern Ukraine, a number of other regions saw an increase in rocket attacks and the resulting casualties last week, according to the latest Humanitarian Bulletin from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). We are talking about the eastern part of the Kharkiv and western parts of the Khmelnytsky regions, where the local population and civilian infrastructure were badly damaged.
According to the latest estimates from the Ukrainian government, 25,000 kilometres of roads and more than 300 bridges have been damaged or destroyed since February 24. Other important infrastructure across the country was also affected. The total damage is estimated at $95 billion.