Urgent Call for Action: Support for Civilians Affected by Kakhovka Dam Flooding
Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) calls on all actors to prioritise action for safe passage and unimpeded humanitarian access to civilians affected by the attack on and collapse of the Nova Kakhovka Dam. There is an urgent need to protect civilians and for an immediate cessation of targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UKRAINE, June 7, 2023—Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) calls on all actors to prioritise action for safe passage and unimpeded humanitarian access to civilians affected by the attack on and collapse of Nova Kakhovka Dam. There is an urgent need to protect civilians and for an immediate cessation of targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.
We urge immediate and decisive action from the international community—donors, policymakers, humanitarians—to respond to the catastrophic risk to life and health of civilians in affected areas. Those actors involved in high-level political negotiations on access must work urgently to secure agreement from parties to the conflict to facilitate safe movement and access to impacted communities.
NP’s staff and partners on the ground have reported difficulties in accessing and providing aid and evacuation to civilians due to ongoing shelling and other attacks. Partners particularly highlight difficulties in reaching and evacuating civilians from Russian-occupied regions. Russian forces have refused to let civilians enter Ukrainian-held regions or allow Ukrainian relief workers into Russian-held areas.
“Lack of access on the left bank is leading to undue harm to civilians and puts rescue workers in increased risk as they attempt to support civilian populations in occupied territory. We call on all parties to the conflict and those with influence over them to protect civilians,” said Joachim Kleinmann, Senior Programme Manager for NP Ukraine.
The dam, which spans the Dnipro River and is currently temporarily controlled by Russian forces, was attacked and collapsed early in the morning of June 6th, 2023 quickly causing widespread flooding. Approximately 22,000 civilians in areas temporarily occupied by Russian forces to the east of the river and 16,000 civilians in Ukrainian-controlled areas to the west are at direct risk from the flooding and ongoing violence.
The impact of the dam’s destruction is felt most deeply in temporarily Russian-held territories on the left bank of the Dnipro River, and civilian movements of communities along the Inhulets River are anticipated.
Access to information about routes to safety, and accessing urgent aid and services, is limited. One resident on the ground shared that “we do not have phones to ask for information about our village, I don’t know if my house is still standing.”
“The destruction of civilian infrastructure is a war crime and severely threatens the lives and health of civilians and the environment. The implication of this will have vast and long-term effects on both sides of the contact line,” stated Kleinmann. In addition to widespread displacement and insecurity, the flooding poses an urgent risk to the safe management of nearby nuclear facilities. The release of dam-related chemicals is also causing urgent health concerns including skin rashes and impeding access to health facilities. The flooding has also disturbed existing unexploded ordnance (UXO), causing mines to move and detonate, a major threat to civilian life that will be ongoing as flooding recedes.
There is still time to respond to the ongoing impacts of this attack and to save lives — but we need to act collectively and urgently, centring the local community.
NP is an international protection agency. Our mission is to protect civilians in violent conflicts through unarmed strategies, build peace side-by-side with local communities, and advocate for the wider adoption of these approaches to safeguard human lives and dignity. NP works in de-occupied and frontline areas in the south and north of Ukraine (Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson Oblasts), providing unarmed protection to civilians, including local volunteer collectives.
- Ukraine: Joachim Kleinmann, Senior Programme Manager, Ukraine, [email protected]
- Advocacy: Felicity Gray, Global Head of Policy & Advocacy, [email protected]
- Media: Claire Guinta, External Relations Manager, [email protected]
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