Ukraine faces perilous winter without urgent funds, says international homelessness charity
With a brutal winter in Ukraine weeks away, homelessness charity Depaul International is launching an urgent appeal to help those who without adequate housing to survive the winter months. According to the UN, 11.2 million people in Ukraine urgently need shelter assistance and support with essential items such as blankets.
Average winter temperatures in Ukraine are below freezing, and have been reported as low as -20C, leading to frostbite, hyperthermia and death amongst the country’s homelessness population. There is no official statistic, but it is estimated that thousands of homeless people die every year Ukraine as ice and snow descends. In the city of Odessa alone, last year there were nearly 800 ‘unaccounted for’ deaths.
Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, thousands have lost their homes due to bombing, particularly in the south and east of the country and further hundreds of thousands are living in temporary structures, garages and houses which are damaged or unsafe. The Russian Federation has recently targeted electricity infrastructure in Kharkiv, cutting people off from heating and power. Additionally central heating is often fed through one central building in many Ukrainian towns, which when damaged, affects the entire population. Residents also are now dubbing Kharkiv the city of ‘no windows’ due to constant shelling.
Depaul International is launching an urgent appeal for funds to provide essential materials for repairs to bomb damaged homes, and to provide winter kits, warm clothing, blankets, heaters and fuel. The charity is also using vacant hotels to house those who are especially vulnerable, as well as offering psychological support, and looking for longer-term solutions to housing. The charity is on the frontline across conflict affected areas and is hoping to reach over 6,000 especially vulnerable households in the next few months.
A donation of £20 could provide a child with enough nutritionally balanced food to last for five days, while £55 could equip a family with a winter survival kit including items such as blankets, winter clothing and fuel.
Father Vitaliy Novak, Chair of Trustees for Depaul Ukraine, who runs the operations across Kharkiv, Odesa and Kyiv explains:
“Everyone here is worried about winter. Russia could hit the electricity supply at any time and we will be paralyzed. Nobody trusts how much energy we will receive from Russia as we were still dependent on them for gas and oil.”
“Last year our volunteers in Odesa found homeless people who had frozen to death, and Odesa is one of Ukraine’s warmer cities. The situation will be even worse in Kyiv in the north, and Kharkiv in the north east. Even if people don’t freeze to death, there are a lot of amputations of fingers, toes and limbs, as after only two or three hours you can lose your feet, so this is a very dangerous situation.”
Depaul Ukraine has been working in the country since 2007, running emergency winter outreach and shelter programmes. Since February, the charity has continued to run its emergency shelters for single adults, accommodation programmes, and delivered over 2,000 tonnes of food, hygiene, and medical supplies to affected communities. It is currently helping over 23,000 people every day, many of whom are elderly or people with disabilities.
Depaul Ukraine is one of 7 members overseen by Depaul International, who have led on-the-ground homeless programmes for over 30 years. The organisation is leaning on decades of work with thousands of vulnerable people across the world, including in the UK, to ensure people survive winter temperatures.
As the cost-of-living crisis hits closer to home, Depaul UK’s programmes will be helping thousands of young people, providing accommodation, training and crisis support will be stepping up to meet the growing demand.
Matthew Carter, Group CEO Depaul International said:
“What we are seeing in Ukraine is completely shocking, and our team have been astonishing in helping people in the hardest-hit areas. In the years ahead we anticipate widespread homelessness across Ukraine, with particularly vulnerable people such as the elderly and disabled the worst hit.
Globally displacement figures are at an all time high, with nearly 90 million forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence and fear of persecution, almost double that of a decade ago. Everyone should have a home. With Covid, climate change economic and food crises in countries across the world, we are seeing both short and long-term homelessness grow at a worrying rate, yet there is still no official global count. We are proud to be working with the Ruff Institute of Global Homelessness to lobby for change at the UN level and put homelessness at the top of the international agenda. In the meantime, we will continue our life-saving work and are grateful for everyone who continues to stand by us”.
To find out more, or to donate to Depaul International’s winter appeal, please visit Home – Depaul International (int.depaulcharity.org)
NOTES TO EDITORS