"We are dealing with a historically new challenge: freezing cold, energy shortages and war at the same time," says Serhii Lukashov, head of SOS Children's Villages Ukraine. Lukashov expects another half a million people to flee in the eastern regions of Donetsk, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv. He said local authorities had already declared that it would be impossible to restore heating systems, electricity and water supplies in time for winter. With temperatures threatening to reach -15 degrees, residents have been ordered to leave their homes.
Supply systems overloaded The people are to be accommodated in central and western Ukraine. Our colleague Lukashov says: "But even there there is no guarantee that they will be adequately supplied. There is always the danger that long-range missiles will cause further destruction. And even if this doesn't happen, the situation is challenging: the population of many cities has increased by 10 to 30 per cent due to the reception of refugees and the supply systems are overloaded." The situation is particularly dramatic for large families on the run. Many of them are housed in collective accommodation such as stadiums or holiday camps, which are not designed for sub-zero temperatures. Very few of them can afford their own flat. The situation for refugees in rural regions is also threatening. "Most IDPs come from urban industrial areas and are overwhelmed with the situation in the countryside. They don't know where to get wood or coal in view of the general shortage of resources, and a large part of them don't even have the money for it," says Lukashov. SOS Children's Villages help in Ukraine To help children and families in Ukraine get through the winter, SOS Children's Villages is taking numerous measures: Affected people are provided with warm clothing, blankets, stoves and other equipment; foster families receive assistance with rent and the purchase of fuel. Families from the eastern areas are supported in evacuating. In addition, the relief organisation is in the process of setting up short-term shelters for women with children.