Millions of Ukrainians risk winter freeze, warns WHO

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The war-torn country’s national power supplier has admitted blackouts could continue until the spring. The United Nations fears civilians may freeze to death in minus -20C temperatures.

It comes after weeks of targeted shelling by Russian forces have left up to half of the Ukrainian power stations destroyed or damaged.

Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Europe director, said Ukraine’s health system is “facing its darkest days of the war”.

He added: “Put simply, this winter will be about survival. It will be life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine.”

Some 1,000 emergency heating stations with portable generators have been set up in Kyiv. Sergey Kovalenko, CEO of the YASNO private energy provider, said workers are struggling to complete repairs before the real cold arrives.

He added: “People will most likely live with blackouts until at least the end of March.”

Ukrainians have even been asked by the authorities to leave the country for the winter if they can to help save energy.

The government has also been offering people in liberated Kherson, which has little electricity or water, free evacuations to regions with better infrastructure as well as free accommodation.

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