Since the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ripple effects of the war have reverberated beyond the country’s borders, throughout Europe and around the world. Not since the Second World War has Europe witnessed such a sudden and large-scale exodus of people.
Since the start of hostilities in late February 2022, one-quarter of Ukrainians have been forced from their homes. Within Ukraine, more than 6.6 million people remain displaced by the war. UNHCR estimates there are an additional 6.8 million refugees present across Europe – making this one of the largest displacement crisises in the world today. Many have sought safety in neighbouring countries including Poland and Moldova. Some have also found safe haven in Canada.
Inside Ukraine, many people who are trapped are unable to meet their basic needs including for food, water, and medicines. The months since the escalation of the international armed conflict in the country have taken a massive toll. Deadly shelling and missile attacks continue, causing destruction, civilian injuries, and loss of life.
Nearly three million people were already in need of humanitarian support in Ukraine before the start of the war — a figure that has now increased five-fold. The delivery of aid remains challenging, with a lack of safe humanitarian access in areas where intense fighting is ongoing. UNHCR and partners continue striving to reach hard-hit areas with assistance as part of inter-agency humanitarian convoys.
UNHCR is ramping up programs to help people repair damaged homes. We are also working to support the refurbishment and repurposing of buildings that can be turned into medium-term collective centres, for people who need to move from temporary reception centres but cannot afford to rent an apartment.
Yet, as the colder months approach, a new and daunting challenge is looming.
“Winter is coming. And winters in Ukraine are brutal. Having somewhere warm, safe and dignified to stay will be lifesaving,” – Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR Representative in Ukraine ___
With your support, here is how UNHCR is helping:
- 1.6 million people have been reached with protection services, cash assistance or essential items and shelter support
- 89,904 sleeping places created or improved in a total of 294 reception and collective centres
- Over 138,000 people received assistance through humanitarian convoys delivered to hard-hit areas in Ukraine
- Over 703,000 people reached in Ukraine with essential food and non-food items including winter clothes and shelter materials
- Just under 500,000 people have received cash assistance in Ukraine, with an additional 382,077 receiving this support in neighbouring countries
- Increased footprint on the ground with 241 staff in eight locations.
Stories from Ukraine
Lyudmyla was six years old when the Second World War started. The 87-year-old has lived her whole life in Kharkiv. When the conflict began in Ukraine on 24 February, explosions forced Lyudmyla and her family to seek refuge in the nearest bomb shelter, the local kindergarten. They spent a week huddled in the bunker before moving to the underground station where they would spend several more nights.
As the bombing intensified, the family made the decision to flee and find safety elsewhere in the country.
“We stayed overnight in many towns on our way. We didn’t know where exactly we were going. Volunteers told us about reception centres in Uzhhorod, so we came here. We were very grateful to be given accommodation and hot meals at the reception centre.”