Ukraine evacuates Kherson, Mykolaiv over lack of energy

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Nov. 22 (UPI) — The Ukrainian government is preparing to evacuate many of the remaining residents in the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions over concerns that Russian attacks have damaged civilian infrastructure too much to survive the usually bitter winter season.

For more than a month, Russian forces have pounded electrical power stations and other basic civilian infrastructure facilities ahead of winter, leaving civilians in the area without electricity, natural gas and clean drinking water in some cases.

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Ukraine‘s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called for the residents in those areas to move to the central and western parts of the country where most infrastructure services remained functional.

Kyiv was organizing transportation, accommodation and medical care for those willing to move. The urging of evacuations comes after Ukraine recaptured the city of Kherson a week ago. Kherson, though, remains close to the fighting frontline.

Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, said about half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is either damaged or destroyed. He said that damage has put the health of all Ukrainians at risk.

“This is already having knock-on effects on the health system and on people’s health,” Kluge said in a statement. “Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health-care facilities are no longer fully operational — lacking fuel, water and electricity to meet basic needs.

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“Maternity wards need incubators; blood banks need refrigerators; intensive care beds need ventilators, and all require energy.”

More than 10 million Ukrainians have left the country entirely since the start of Russia’s invasion in February. Some 10 million who have stayed currently are living with no power as a result of Russian strikes on energy facilities.

“I want everyone to understand: Ukrainians will most likely have to live in a shutdown mode until at least the end of March,” Serhiy Kovalenko, CEO at Ukrainian power provider Yasno, said on Monday.