Interview of Lily Hyde, journalist in Ukraine
“25% of the population under the poverty line in Ukraine”
Lily Hyde is a writer and journalist based in Ukraine. She has written for the Guardian, the Times, POLITICO, the New Humanitarian, Coda Story, and others, and is the author of several books including Dream Land, about the deportation and return of the Crimean Tatars. She has also worked as a communications consultant in public health and development.
How do you perceive the work of Ukrainian NGOs since February 24? How have they adapted to the war context?
My impression is that they reacted extremely quickly and they filled the gap, which actually they have been filling since the beginning of the conflict. They are established NGOs with good people, and they reacted very quickly from the first efforts to evacuate people from the front line or deliver essential supplies. For example, an NGO that works in HIV prevention and treatment immediately used its program buses to evacuate people from conflict zones. This is one of the examples of how quickly Ukrainian NGOs adapted to the war context.
As a journalist, what are your current working conditions, what access do you have to the field, especially to the conflict zones?
I mostly work on humanitarian and civilian issues. The Ukrainian authorities introduced accreditation for journalists, in theory that can get them everywhere. In fact, it is a bit different but it is pretty efficient. Working now is a lot harder than it was before in purely practical terms. On a purely logistical level, it is much harder to get around. And the danger level is higher. Moreover, for the last two-three weeks [Editor’s note: since October 2022], there has been a massive problem with electricity damages, even in Kyiv or Lviv.
What are the current needs of the civilian population as winter approaches (economic, social, humanitarian etc.)? How do you see the situation developing in the coming months?
There are huge needs. The World Bank recently predicted that at the end of this year, 25% of Ukrainians will be living in poverty, and at the end of next year; it will be more than 50%. In Summer, the Ukrainian government called on the population in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to evacuate, because it cannot provide gas or electricity there. In the last two to three weeks energy cuts happened in all of Ukraine [Editor’s note: almost 40% of the energy infrastructure was damaged by missile attacks in October 2022]. Education will suffer, as children will not be able to study online. Concerning healthcare facilities, during Covid-19 Ukraine started trying to guarantee that every hospital has its own generator and backup power system, so that started before the invasion in 2022. However, it’s clear from the last two to three weeks that long-term solutions are needed.
What observations do you make about access to health services for the civilian population?
And more generally on the state of these services?
I think it depends very much where you are in the country. There are lots of places where the health system is still functioning and people who are displaced should be able to get access to the health system wherever they are. In regions such as Donetsk region where the Ukrainian government called on people to evacuate, there were talks that they were going to close hospitals not only to try to get people to leave but also because they could not guarantee electricity. Even before the invasion, shortage of healthcare staff was a big problem, especially in east Ukraine, and this has got much worse as people are displaced or seek safety abroad. Power outages of course are going to have a huge impact
Discover the new edition of La Chronique looks at the anxieties of Ukrainians facing this winter as an estimated 30% of the country’s energy infrastructure has been damaged. You will find our photo essay on the millions of internally displaced people in Ukraine, most of whom are temporarily housed in collective centers in different regions: