Ukrainians living in areas flooded by the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam are “completely reliant” on handouts for clean drinking water, the nongovernmental organization World Central Kitchen told CNN on Friday.
“Roads and bridges have been flooded out and so food cannot move (into the area),” World Central Kitchen coordinator Yuliya Konovalova said. “Water is offline and so people are now completely reliant on water provided by us and others.”
The collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine has flooded entire villages, destroyed homes, and left tens of thousands of people without power or clean water.
Humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger’s field coordinator in the region, Phil Oldham, told CNN that the lack of clean drinking water in the area could mean that even those people whose homes have not been directly impacted by the flood will have to leave.
“We can see the possibility that there will be a much larger displacement as a result of the lack of drinking water,” Oldham said. “Now even some of the wells in the area above the (area flooded by the) dam are running dry. ... That could create additional displacements far beyond the level we're seeing now directly from the flood zone.”
Oldham said that those who've been displaced will likely be out of their homes for months, even as the water recedes.
Others in the area will try to stay in their homes no matter what, Konovalova told CNN. “Many have resisted evacuation because they do not want to leave their homes in a war for the uncertainty of evacuation sites and relocation,” she said.
Christian Aid’s Ukraine Response Director Iryna Dobrohorska told CNN that the possibility of water-borne illnesses exists as well.
"Water contamination from dead animals and sewage is likely to have an impact on the rise of health dangers, (with) cholera being one of key risks in the affected areas,” Dobrohorska said.
For those who have chosen to stay, Dobrohorska said urgent medical help is needed – and not just physical help.
“The affected populations are equally in need of immediate psychosocial support,” she said. “... Coupled with stress and shock from flooding, the people require close medical attention."
“The people we are seeing are the elderly and the poor — that is the horror of the front line,” Konovalova said. “People are scared, people have lost everything, people are clinging to the little they have left."