International aid teams still cannot reach flood-hit areas under Russia’s control
By Marc Santora
Moscow has failed to provide security guarantees for aid workers seeking to help thousands of people in flooded areas of Russian-occupied territories, the United Nations said Tuesday, hampering humanitarian efforts more than a week after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine.
Ukraine says it offered such guarantees to the United Nations and International Committee for the Red Cross for areas it controls last week, but so far there have been no such agreements from the Kremlin. Russian-controlled areas were some of the worst-hit by flooding, but the full picture of the destruction in those places remains unclear.
“Operationally, we have boats, personnel and supplies ready to go,” Denise Brown, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said in a statement Tuesday. “However, the Russian Federation is yet to provide the safety guarantees we need” to ensure “the safety of our team and not to create additional risks for the people we intend to serve.”
“The U.N. will continue to deliver lifesaving assistance in the areas controlled by Ukraine and make every effort to ensure we can reach all people who have been stranded by the floods and urgently require lifesaving assistance, no matter where they are,” she added.
In Ukrainian-controlled areas, the floodwaters that surged down the Dnieper River last week have left thousands of people homeless, imperiled access to clean water for hundreds of thousands and ravaged farmlands in a region that has long served as a breadbasket for Europe.
Independent journalists and observers are not allowed to work in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, often making it difficult to assess competing claims about the depth of the humanitarian crisis in those areas.
As the waters continued to recede, the death toll grew Tuesday, said Serhiy Khlan, a Ukrainian legislator in the Kherson region.
“Two more civilians were killed due to flooding in Kherson,” he wrote in a statement. “An unidentified woman and a 50-year-old man were found drowned in one of the districts of the city.”
At least 10 people have died as a result of the flooding in Ukrainian-controlled territory, Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of Kherson regional military administration, said in his latest update Tuesday morning.
Some 42 people have been reported missing and around 3,600 houses in 31 settlements in Ukrainian-controlled territory are still submerged in the floodwaters, he said.