Live Updates on Russian-Ukrainian War: 2 Killed in Russian Shelling in Kherson

The Ukrainian authorities and the country’s philanthropic organizations have extensive experience in dealing with crises, and their hard-won skills – sometimes lacking in disaster-stricken countries – can already be seen in the responses to the crisis. dam failure on the Dnieper River, humanitarian leaders say.

The State Emergency Service, which said it rescued nearly 2,000 people from the immediate flood zone, has responded to thousands of Russian missile strikes since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion 15 months ago. He rescued civilians, put out fires and helped people evacuate.

In addition, there is a network of volunteer groups that has grown rapidly since the invasion, and many people want to show solidarity with the war effort.

Not only people have proven their resilience.

Ukraine’s transport infrastructure has also survived the conflict despite many direct attacks, and transport can be a critical factor in any disaster response. When the dam at Novaya Kakhovka was breached on Tuesday, the government was able to evacuate people from the flood zone to Nikolaev by rail.

“Local civil society, authorities, the private sector – these things are underestimated in a crisis,” said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council and former UN humanitarian aid coordinator. “They’re first in place.”

Ukraine, Mr. Egeland said he has “more logistics, more trained staff and more market opportunities” to work with in the relief effort.

On Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a larger global response to the collapse of a dam that caused water from a reservoir to rush downstream. To date, the United Nations has distributed more than 100,000 bottles of water and provided food aid to 18,000 people and cash assistance to 3,500 people, according to Jens Laerke, a spokesman for its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Conducting evacuations and providing clean water are among the most pressing needs in the flood zone, but the task has become more difficult. Russian forces on the eastern bank of the Dnieper continue to shell areas under Ukrainian control. And there was also a reluctance to leave on the part of some residents who survived months of occupation and then months of attack.

Selena Kozakievich, regional manager for international aid organization CARE in Ukraine, said that many of those living on the banks of the river were elderly and had poor health and disabilities.

“Many still refuse to leave their homes, even if they are flooded,” she said. “This is the population that has been there since the beginning of the conflict.”

Even after the flooding subsides, people who choose to stay may face other risks for months or years, including from contaminated water and landmines that have moved from their original positions.

Ukrainian aid teams, like most international humanitarian organizations working in Ukraine, are staffed primarily by citizens who have the advantage of speaking the language, understanding the country, and often knowing the affected area well.

However, Ukrainian rescuers in close proximity often face the additional challenge of the disaster they are responding to.

Even the most prepared countries often find it difficult to deal with major disasters on their own. Egeland said. He cited Turkey as an example of a country with a strong emergency preparedness sector that is nonetheless struggling to cope with the aftermath of an earthquake in February that killed nearly 60,000 people.

Much rests on money.

Disaster-affected countries need financial assistance both to overcome the immediate crisis and to provide long-term support. In this respect, the international prominence that the war had already brought to Ukraine made it easier to raise funds for aid groups.

In an effort to draw attention to other crises that have forced large numbers of people from their homes, the Norwegian Refugee Council last week published a list of the 10 most neglected displacement crises in the world. All 10 countries were in Africa or Latin America, with Burkina Faso topping the list.