Ukraine faces a 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 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 in 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 the 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 will be many 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 tons 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 has been able to help 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/or 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 to 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
- For more information please contact Sarah Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07776211518
- Depaul Ukraine was founded in 2007 to help thousands of people in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odesa and Ivano-Frankivsk regions of the country, delivering integrated services such as humanitarian aid, emergency and temporary shelter, social support, medical assistance as well as legal aid. Depaul also has established projects focusing on marginalised groups such as single mothers, people with disabilities, and people who have recently left the prison system. Since the invasion of Ukraine in February, Depaul Ukraine has delivered over 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies, as well as running shelters in Kharkiv, Odesa and Kyiv. Find out more about the Ukraine appeal and work at Home – Depaul International (int.depaulcharity.org) or the Ukrainian website here: Depaul Ukraine
- Depaul Ukraine’s work to date has been generously funded and supported by donations and expertise from CAFOD via the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal, as well as individual donors, corporationa and members of the Church.
- Depaul International is the parent organisation of the group of leading homelessness charities. Set up in 1989, Depaul member-charities now include: United Kingdom, Ireland, Slovakia, Ukraine, United States of America, France and Croatia. Depaul works across the world with a mission to end homelessness, work with the most marginalized and change the lives of those affected by homelessness. The Depaul Group serves over 23,500 homeless people each year across Europe and the USA: from young homeless people in the UK, to those fleeing conflict in Ukraine; from street drinkers in Ireland, to homeless university students in Chicago. Their projects range from emergency shelters to long-term supported housing. The Depaul Group pursues a vision of a society in which everyone, across the world, has a place to call home and a stake in their community. Home – Depaul International (int.depaulcharity.org) www.twitter.com/@depaulintl or www.facebook.com/depaulintl