On the frontline with UNHCR

We spoke to UNHCR Associate Shelter Officer Kostyantyn Dmytrenko in Ukraine about the situation facing displaced Ukrainians this winter. This is what he had to say.. 


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Kostyantyn Dmytrenko is an Associate Shelter Officer for UNHCR in Ukraine. He has worked for UNHCR for more than 7 years, across many emergencies and locations, including Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar, and most recently his home country, Ukraine.  

As winter sets in across Ukraine, Kostyantyn shares an update from the ground, where UNHCR staff are working around the clock to prepare for the freezing temperatures, and help displaced families protect themselves from the bitter cold and fierce winds.  


Winters in Ukraine are very cold and harsh, even in the Southern, typically warmer regions. Temperatures plummet and can drop to negative degrees Celsius in the North and East of Ukraine. 

We are very concerned for people living in the most affected areas in light of the upcoming winter. Many cities and towns in Ukraine have centralised heating plants that serve thousands of homes, and now that the plants have been damaged, people will have no access to heating. Also, many homes have damaged roofs and windows, leaving residents exposed to cold, rain and snow.  

Liudmyla, 65, in her destroyed home in the Bucha district of Kyiv Oblast. Liudmyla lives with her elderly mother Vira, 85, and is distraught as she stands in the ruins of her home and shows family photographs.

Many families will struggle to buy warm clothes, pay for utilities or buy solid fuel for heating as many lost their jobs and livelihoods and as the war brought about an economic crisis. We need to work to help ensure that homes are properly insulated to protect people against the freezing temperatures and the snow. 

People have already suffered so much from the war; there has been a loss of life, jobs, livelihoods, civil infrastructure and assets. The winter could bring greater challenges and at UNHCR, we will take all necessary steps to complement the efforts of the Government to respond to these challenges.  

As winter approaches, the repair and renovation work of our shelter team is critical, as we strive to help the most vulnerable have a warm and safe place to stay during the freezing Ukrainian winter.  We are working on light and medium repairs of damaged homes and buildings; creating sleeping places through refurbishment of collective centers; and supporting with the weather-proofing of buildings and homes by installing ceiling insulation and double-glazed windows and fixing gaps around floors and windows, to better sustain a warm space.

UNHCR will also distribute winter items such as thermal blankets, warm clothes and heaters, as well as provide cash assistance so families can afford utilities, covering increases in gas and electricity bills and the purchase of solid fuel for heating. 

Everyone in Ukraine knows that they need to be well prepared for the winter season, which starts in mid-October and lasts until mid to late April, but with the scale of destruction, it will be very difficult. 

A safe and warm home is a basic need of every human being.

That is especially true in the winter, when people can become very ill or even die if exposed to the cold weather conditions. So housing is one of the biggest priorities to save lives. 


Visit our website to donate today and save lives by supporting displaced Ukrainians this winter.

To learn more about the situation in Ukraine, visit this page. 

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