The Hague, June 9, 2023 – The destruction of the Kakhovka dam has caused severe harm to civilians in Ukraine, including the death of several people. The human and environmental impact will be felt for years, warns Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC). CIVIC calls on Russian authorities occupying the area on the east side of the river to facilitate full access to the affected population and to take all measures necessary to limit the negative impact on civilians. 

“As if fleeing airstrikes and dodging bullets was not enough, civilians have to now swim to safety after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam,” said Udo Jude Ilo, CIVIC’s Senior Director for Advocacy. “The collapse of the dam has triggered yet another humanitarian emergency and will have an enormous human and environmental cost that will take years to recover from.” 

Following the collapse of the Kakhovka dam, several towns and villages are reported to have been flooded, causing the evacuation of thousands of people. People affected by the flooding are now in urgent need of water, food, hygiene, and other vital items. With damage recorded in sewage systems and a lack of clean water, the risk of waterborne diseases has also increased. Rescue and humanitarian efforts have been hampered by attacks on Kherson city, which reportedly injured several civilians, including two emergency rescuers and a health worker. 

All parties, particularly Russia, should immediately stop shelling affected areas and concentrate their efforts on humanitarian relief for the affected people. All parties, particularly Russia, should also publicly commit to a no-strike list of critical infrastructure in Ukraine indispensable to the survival of the population, based on lists provided by the Ukrainian government and independent organizations like the ICRC or the United Nations.   

While we welcome the mobilization of Ukraine and the international community to support civilians affected by the destruction of the dam, CIVIC also calls on Russian authorities to immediately allow access of national and international humanitarian organizations to the affected areas. Russian forces should also facilitate the evacuation of people living in areas they control to Ukrainian-controlled territory if they choose to do so and must not force people to evacuate against their will deeper into Russian-controlled territory.       

CIVIC is also highly concerned over the risk of mine accidents. The flooding may have exposed buried mines while some explosives may have shifted in the floodwaters, moving to areas previously considered clear and safe. “The risk that landmines have moved with no one knowing where they are now serves as a stark reminder that the use of anti-personnel landmines in any conflict should be prohibited” Ilo said.   

CIVIC calls for an independent investigation to establish the origin of the destruction of the dam. For such an investigation to be effective, Russia should allow a team of independent international experts to investigate the origins of the destruction. Based on the findings of an impartial investigation, the party responsible for the destruction should pay reparations to those affected.  

  

For more information and media inquiries, please contact:   

In The Hague: Hajer Naili, Director of Communications: hnaili@civiliansinconflict.org, +31.6.21.69.68.86/ +1.917.889.5982 (WhatsApp)  

  

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