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Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis

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After months of posturing while simultaneously denying any plans to attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin's assaults on multiple cities in Ukraine began overnight on Feb. 24 and have continued day and night since then.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s (CDP) response to this crisis is focused on humanitarian needs that arise, particularly among internally displaced peoples (IDPs) and refugees. We are not looking at the conflict itself except for how it affects population movement and humanitarian needs. To that end, this profile is not providing detailed updates about the status of the war as we believe that is better done by news media.

The month of October was peppered with a series of Russian air strikes in Ukraine. On Oct. 10, Russia launched the largest air strikes since the start of the Ukraine war and the strikes continued the following day. The strikes targeted Ukrainian cities, killing civilians and knocking out power and heat. A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “Attacks targeting civilians and objects indispensable to the survival of civilians are prohibited under international humanitarian law.”

In their Nov. 15 Ukraine Situation Report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said, “Millions of people in Ukraine are without electricity, water or heating today, following a wave of missile attacks that hit critical infrastructure in at least 16 of the country’s 24 regions and in the capital Kyiv. According to the Government and Ukrainian Air Force, approximately 100 missiles were launched on the country this afternoon, mainly targeting energy infrastructure but also leaving some civilians injured or killed and homes destroyed in the capital Kyiv.”

Fighting and explosions near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which has been under Russian control since soon after it invaded the country, have raised concerns about a potential catastrophic nuclear disaster at the site. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, has called the situation “unprecedented.”

(Photo: Border crossing point in Medyka, Poland. Source: Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration via Twitter)

The school year in Ukraine began on Sept. 1, but the situation for children is far from normal. Officials say six months of war have damaged 2,400 schools across the country, including 269 that were completely destroyed.

According to Save the Children, “an average of four preschools a day have been damaged or destroyed in the war in Ukraine, putting children’s early development in jeopardy as the new school year begins.” Getting children back to learning, in classrooms when it is deemed safe, and through online or community-based alternatives is critical.

Humanitarian challenges continue to grow and aid workers are anticipating a multi-year recovery will be required.

Putin stated that Russian forces were targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure, not people or communities. However, data and stories from Ukraine paint a different picture, including thousands of civilian casualties.

This is the largest mobilization of forces in Europe since World War II. This latest attack is part of a multi-year crisis stemming back to 2014 and beyond.

CNBC reported: “Heightened fears of a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine have been present for some time, and eastern Ukraine has been the location of a proxy war between the two countries. Soon after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, pro-Russian separatists proclaimed two republics in the eastern part of the country: the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic — much to the Ukrainian government’s consternation. Since then, there have been ongoing skirmishes and fighting in the region, which is known as the Donbas, between Ukraine’s troops and separatists.”

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Key facts
  • As of Nov. 20, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported 16,784 civilian casualties in the country, including 6,595 killed and 10,189 injured. OHCHR said the actual figures are considerably higher and most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused “by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area.”
  • As of Nov. 15, more than 7.8 million refugees from Ukraine were recorded across Europe according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  • As of Oct. 27, there are more than 6.5 million IDPs in Ukraine. This figure represents a slight increase compared to 6.2 million as of the end of September.
  • As of Nov. 8, there were more than 5.3 million cases of COVID-19 and 110,403 deaths in Ukraine. The active hostilities and COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating chronic mental health problems.
  • On Aug. 8, the UN and humanitarian partners released the revised Flash Appeal for Ukraine, covering the period between March and December 2022. The Flash Appeal requests $4.29 billion to support 11.5 million people in need, which is a 90% increase in financial requirements compared with the previous revision in April. As of Nov. 14, donors funded 71.1% of the $4.29 billion sought. The financial support level is significant, considering humanitarian emergencies are often underfunded. Also, some donors have redirected funding to Ukraine from other humanitarian crises, which risks worsening these crises with serious human costs.
  • As of Nov. 10, UN agencies and humanitarian partners have reached 13.5 million people with humanitarian assistance since Feb. 24. The oblast with the most people reached is Kharkivska.
Safe passage and access to aid

In their October 2022 thematic report on humanitarian access in Ukraine, ACAPS said: “In rural areas and communities along the frontlines, access remains highly dependent on local NGOs and volunteers who face funding and other challenges. Nationwide, an escalation of air strikes has damaged critical civilian infrastructure, affecting the delivery of services, especially electricity.”

According to UNOCHA in their Nov. 15 Ukraine Situation Report: “Over 165,000 people in villages retaken by Ukraine, including the city of Kherson, face dire humanitarian situation due to extensive damages and destruction of infrastructure.” Less than 72 hours after the Government of Ukraine regained control of Kherson, the UN delivered supplies to help thousands of civilians in the city.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in their Oct. 26 Situation Report, “On 19 October, the Russian Federation declared “Martial law” in the parts of the four Ukrainian oblasts it recently claimed to have annexed – Donetska, Khersonska, Luhanska and Zaporizka –, creating concerns that it would become more difficult for civilians to move in and out of these oblasts, and for humanitarian organizations to access people in need.”

Evacuations from some of the hardest-hit areas remain limited, with efforts hampered by insecurity and attacks. However, evacuation efforts are ongoing as possible. On Sept. 18, Ukrainian authorities reported that in the past month approximately 82,000 people were evacuated from some of the most war-affected parts of Donetska, Kharkivska, Khersonska, Mykolaivska and Zaporizka oblasts. The individuals evacuated were mainly children, women, people with low mobility and older people.

The ongoing damage to civilian infrastructure, including homes, water systems and the power grid, leaves people in unsafe conditions and hampers recovery.

The UN Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine condemned the Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian areas on Oct. 10-11 that resulted in scores of civilian casualties.

Despite the continuation of fighting, there were several successful inter-agency convoys in the month of October that delivered aid to previously unreachable and hard-hit areas of Ukraine. For example, on Oct. 13, UNOCHA facilitated the delivery of assistance to the recently retaken town of Lyman, in Donetska oblast. On Oct. 20, another inter-agency convoy delivered 10 tons of aid to people in the settlement of Velyka Oleksandrivka, in the newly retaken areas of Khersonska oblast.

NGOs continue to call for unhindered access for all humanitarian staff and assistance, including in areas outside Ukrainian control, which continues to be denied. Preparing for the approaching winter remains a focus for humanitarians, with humanitarian organizations actively distributing generators to hospitals and some schools, providing repair support to collective centers and damaged homes and cash to cover essential costs.

In their assessment of access conditions in countries between January and June 2022, ACAPS placed only four countries in the “extreme constraints” category, and Ukraine was one of them. Humanitarian access deteriorated significantly during the period. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during his Aug. 24 briefing to the Security Council, said it is imperative that humanitarian actors in Ukraine have safe and unhindered access to all people requiring assistance, no matter where they live.

Refugees and internally displaced peoples

From Feb. 24 to Nov. 15, 2022, there were more than 15.35 million border crossings from Ukraine, according to UNHCR. As of Nov. 15, 7,843,714 refugees from Ukraine were recorded across Europe. The war has caused the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis since World War II. According to the revised Ukraine Situation RRRP, 90% of refugees are women and children.

As of Nov. 15, Poland had seen 7,583,850 border crossings from Ukrainians fleeing the war and 1,497,849 refugees from Ukraine registered in the country, the most of any neighboring country. In May 2022, it was estimated that at least 600,000 people were hosted in private shelters by Polish citizens.

Integration into the Polish labor market is a challenge, especially as most refugees are women, children and older adults, and the jobs available do not necessarily match the skills of refugees. As Russia’s invasion enters its sixth month, the well-managed reception of Ukrainian refugees in Poland may run into issues as volunteers burn out and long-term plans are lacking. Furthermore, a report from World Vision said that anti-refugee messaging was already spreading on social media and in niche media outlets in neighboring countries.

On March 4, “European Union (EU) Member States activated the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) for the first time. The TPD stipulates that all Member States must grant temporary protection (TP) to Ukrainians and persons with protection status in Ukraine and their family members residing in Ukraine before 24 February.”

As of Nov. 13, 2,321,658 Ukrainian refugees were registered for Temporary Protection or similar national schemes in neighboring countries. The TPD is the first time the bloc has invoked such an emergency power. Observers have noted that the reception for Ukrainians in the EU is in stark contrast to how the continent has viewed asylum seekers from other parts of the world.

According to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) General Population Survey (Round 10), an estimated 6,540,000 people have been internally displaced within the country since Sept. 26. Of these, 59% are women and 41% are men, and 46% of IDP households include one or more older persons.

The overall estimated number of IDPs increased by 297,000 people from Sept. 26 to Oct. 27. The largest number of IDPs are located in the east.

Source: IOM

IOM estimates 5,937,000 total returnees since Sept. 26, including former IDPs from locations within Ukraine and self-reported returns from outside the country. There are concerns about less attention and support for IDPs compared to refugees.

A study from the Norwegian Refugee Council on refugee returns from Poland in July and August 2022 found that 50% of survey respondents said their children had not attended school since leaving Ukraine. Additionally, the primary factor driving return for a third of respondents was family reunification and the wish to return to their country; the vast majority were returning to their previous home.

While human trafficking in Ukraine was widespread before the war, indications show an increased risk of trafficking since the war in Ukraine began. These risks are expected to increase as the war continues and more people are displaced. The Global Protection Cluster published a guide that provides direction on preventing trafficking, who to work with in doing so and what support victims require.

There were nearly 80,000 foreign students in Ukraine at the beginning of the conflict. Many are Indian or African (mostly from Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria) and both groups reported stories of racism and discrimination at the border in trying to leave the country.

The Biden administration announced in April that the U.S. would accept 100,000 Ukrainians through an online portal named Uniting for Ukraine. Under this program, more than 50,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the U.S. However, more Ukrainians have entered the country on visas they held or by crossing the U.S.-Mexico border than the online portal.

According to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, 65% of Americans favor accepting Ukrainian refugees into the U.S., while 15% oppose it. More than 40 major companies in the U.S., including Hilton, Amazon, Pfizer and Pepsico, pledged in September 2022 to hire nearly 23,000 refugees over the next three years. However, their promises do not match the increase in new arrivals.

Marginalized and at-risk populations

Ukraine has more than 130 ethnic groups, many of whom speak other languages. Groups with heightened vulnerabilities include the Roma community, the elderly, people with disabilities, women in rural communities in displacement and conflict zones, and LGBTQIA+ communities.

UNOCHA has indicated that the most vulnerable populations in Donetska and Luhansja oblasts are older people. They comprise 30% of the people in need, followed by people with disabilities, women and children. Many homes that care for older Ukrainians and those with disabilities in eastern Ukraine have evacuated their residents to Dnipro, and many residents are traumatized. Older adults face increasing challenges in accessing services and forced separation and isolation.

According to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) General Population Survey (Round 10), 26% of IDP households had one or more people living with a disability and 46% included at least one older person.

As of 2021, more than 2.7 million people in Ukraine were registered with disabilities, including nearly 164,000 children. Many of these children are housed in orphanages or institutions. Care must be taken for their safety during evacuations. Around 5.7 million school-aged children have been affected since the start of the war, including 3.6 million due to the closure of educational institutions.

After Feb. 24, all education programs in the country were stopped for two weeks, and the conflict disrupted education for the rest of the school year for children in several oblasts. Ukrainian officials say the war damaged 2,400 schools across the country, including 269 that were destroyed. The first day of school for the new academic year in Ukraine was on Sept. 1, but the situation is far from normal. According to the Ministry of Education and Science, 27% of schools resumed face-to-face learning, 43% distance learning and 30% mix modality.

Multiple forms of gender-based violence (GBV) are being reported, with high risk for women and girls fleeing, at border crossing points, transit centers and bomb shelters. A report from HIAS and VOICE discusses a range of GBV risks, including an increase in domestic violence and an extreme lack of safe and sustainable housing and shelter options. Civil society organizations have responded to meet immediate needs but face many challenges in attempting to provide support to large numbers of internally displaced people. Vulnerabilities to exploitation continue to grow.

According to a GBV Task Force formed by members of the GBV sub-cluster and the Cash Working Group, the Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) scheme registration is mainly done online, which is a barrier to people without access to the internet, including older women. Additionally, women from some ethnic minority groups, such as Roma, may have more difficulties registering for CVA due to a lack of documentation.

People that identify as LGBTQIA+ people in Ukraine often cannot reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity, fearing violence, rejection and discrimination if they do. People’s identities are complex and intersect in ways that can exacerbate inequitable outcomes. Discrimination and other difficulties often add barriers to accessing humanitarian assistance and services. Transgender persons whose gender identity does not match their official identity documents face significant barriers. Dozens of LBGTQIA+ Ukrainians have reported being turned away at official Ukrainian border crossings and experienced mistreatment by authorities.

Economic and food security impacts

The war has devastated Ukraine’s economy, with hostilities and displacement driving loss of livelihoods and income. Around 9.3 million people across the country require food and livelihood assistance from March to December 2022.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is predicting 30% negative growth in Ukraine’s GDP this year. The Bank said, “GDP growth in Ukraine is forecast to bounce back to 25 per cent next year but this assumes that substantial reconstruction work is by then already underway. How long the hostilities last, the shape of any post-war settlement, the extent of reconstruction and how many refugees return home will also influence the recovery’s speed.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted:

  • 35% decrease in Ukraine’s economy this year.
  • Negative impact on global markets.
  • A decrease of 8.5% for the Russian Federation’s gross domestic product.
  • IMF stressed that even if the war ended soon, the displacement and loss of people, as well as the destruction of physical capital, would seriously hamper economic activity for many years to come … Further, IMF concluded that, beyond the immediate humanitarian impacts, the war in Ukraine would severely set back the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, slowing growth and increasing inflation even further.”

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), early data indicates that “90% of the Ukrainian population could be facing poverty and extreme economic vulnerability should the war deepen, setting the country – and the region – back decades and leaving deep social and economic scars for generations to come.”

Ukraine’s agricultural sector is a crucial source of livelihood for Ukrainians, especially those living in rural areas. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the agricultural sector accounts for 11% of the country’s gross domestic product and almost 40% of total exports. There are reports that the NGCA of Khersonska oblast (south) has begun exporting grain to the Russian Federation.

Fires impacting agricultural facilities were reported in central Dnipropetrovska oblast. The attack escalation will likely result in significant harvest disruption and directly impact food security. Also, the time it takes to demine territories back under the control of Ukraine’s government causes delays in determining food assistance and livelihood needs. Humanitarian partners are prioritizing the provision of food in hard-to-reach and frontline areas. Livestock owners in Khersonska oblast have been unable to graze their animals because their fields have been contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance.

The conflict is likely to exacerbate world hunger, particularly in countries already facing famine or high levels of malnutrition and food shortages. It will also increase the costs of many products globally. Ukraine exported a number of products that will significantly impact the global food supply chain.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, combined with lingering pandemic effects and an increase in climate-related events, will have far-reaching consequences globally. The war in Ukraine has sent food prices soaring, exacerbating the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. The WFP has urged for a “political solution” as the closure of Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea threatens food supplies globally.

An agreement in July with the UN and Turkey aimed to facilitate shipments of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, with the deal aiming to ease the global food shortage. On Aug. 3, the first shipment of Ukrainian food under the deal was cleared to proceed from Istanbul to its destination in Lebanon. On Oct. 29, Russia suspended its involvement in the agreement only to resume its cooperation in early November. The agreement has allowed around 10 million tons of foodstuffs to enter the world market. However, the agreement expires on Nov. 19 and discussions about an extension will take place soon.

According to OEC: “The top exports of Ukraine are Corn ($4.77B), Seed Oils ($3.75B), Iron Ore ($3.36B), Wheat ($3.11B), and Semi-Finished Iron ($2.55B), exporting mostly to Russia ($4.69B), China ($3.94B), Germany ($3.08B), Poland ($2.75B), and Italy ($2.57B).”

Corn is the most exported product in the country and Ukraine is the fourth-largest exporter of corn in the world. Seed oil is the second most exported product, but Ukraine is the largest exporter of this item globally. Ukraine is the fifth-largest exporter of wheat in the world, its fourth-highest exported product.

Britain and other countries are already seeing a shortage of sunflower oils and increases in prices for other vegetable oils. Stores have started asking consumers to limit their purchases of edible oils.

Women and girls

During all disasters, there are unique needs faced by women and girls, and these are exacerbated in a conflict crisis. There have been numerous reports of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. According to estimates by the GBV Sub-Cluster, around 3.7 million people need GBV prevention and response services.

On May 3, the UN and the government of Ukraine signed a framework to assist survivors of sexual violence. On June 20, the Ukrainian government announced having ratified the Council of Europe’s “Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence,” also known as the Istanbul Convention. The convention establishes legally binding standards for governments to prevent violence against all women and girls, support survivors, and hold abusers to account. The move was welcomed by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.

CARE produced a rapid gender analysis (RGA) brief on the Ukraine crisis that highlights significant gender issues – both pre-existing issues and ones that have emerged as a result of the conflict – so that humanitarian responses can better meet people’s different needs as the crisis evolves.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) the needs of women and girls must be prioritized because of the ongoing threats that they face. A report from HIAS and VOICE revealed that top concerns for women and girls include threats to physical safety, food insecurity and lack of healthcare access. Referral pathways for GBV survivors are not fully functioning in many locations and therefore remain a critical need.

In a note on the gender-related impacts of the conflict, the FAO said: “Increasing food insecurity and water and energy scarcity, as a result of the crisis, may place women and girls at higher risk of domestic violence due to heightened tensions in the household and communities.”

Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA said, “Women do not stop getting pregnant or giving birth during conflict, and their access to life-saving health services is literally under attack in Ukraine. With health and social service facilities being bombed and shelled, and reports of rape and other forms of gender-based violence rising, UNFPA is focused on meeting the distinct needs of women and girls.”

When the war began, at least 265,000 women were pregnant in Ukraine, and 80,000 of those were due to give birth in the coming 3 months.

There are three types of needs in this situation:

  • Supporting individuals and families within Ukraine, including people staying in place and internally displaced persons.
  • Providing assistance in receiving countries across Europe that are taking in tens and hundreds of thousands of refugees. This may include host communities in other continents as well, as the crisis continues.
  • Responding to the global economic fallout, especially as it pertains to world hunger, given the impact on the exportation of food products from Russia and Ukraine.

Cash assistance

As with most disasters and emergencies, cash donations are recommended by disaster experts as they allow for on-the-ground agencies to direct funds to the most significant area of need, support economic recovery and ensure donation management does not detract from disaster recovery needs. CDP recommends cash both as a donation method and a recovery strategy. Providing direct cash assistance can allow families to purchase items and services that address their multiple needs. It gives each family flexibility and choice, ensuring that support is relevant and timely. Cash assistance can also help move families faster towards rebuilding their lives.

According to the WFP, households predominantly rely on cash to purchase food. In their General Population Survey (Round 10) IOM reported that when asked to identify their single most pressing need, “Cash (financial support) is identified as a top priority need by the largest number of IDPs (56% indicate this is their most pressing need), followed by building and construction materials (5%). In Round 10 of the survey, IOM observes a general increase in IDP needs across a variety of categories – notably food, medicine and health services, NFIs, as well as means of access to money.”

As of Oct. 24, the Cash Working Group (CWG) partners have distributed multipurpose cash assistance to  1.92 million people across 25 oblasts. Given the prominence of multipurpose cash as a modality of aid, market monitoring is key to ensuring that humanitarian intervention is effective.

Humanitarians are expected to reach 6.3 million people with multipurpose cash, up from the 2 million targeted in the April revision of the Flash Appeal. From March to December 2022, the transfers are expected to total $1.72 billion. As of Oct. 26, 4.17 million people have received cash assistance amounting to $862 million, the largest cash response in humanitarian history. UNOCHA has urged companies not to send unsolicited donations and encouraged the private sector to send financial donations instead.

Christian Blind Mission has developed a technical brief providing guidance for Ukrainian humanitarian agencies on implementing disability-inclusive cash and voucher assistance (CVA). The brief recommends ensuring CVA reaches all persons with disabilities, linking CVA to social protection schemes and supporting people with disabilities in institutions. A GBV task force comprised of members of the GBV Sub-Cluster and the CWG has produced a GBV risk analysis of CVA specifically for the Ukraine context.

Material assistance

Despite the call for cash assistance, we also recognize that certain essential items are often difficult to obtain by individuals because of the inability to access stores due to fighting or fleeing, lack of financial resources, or supply chain issues.

The Ukraine Logistics Cluster regularly meets and publishes resources and guidance. They coordinate with the Shelter Cluster and other partners to identify logistics gaps for the winterization planning. Additional needs include capacity and coordination for last-mile distributions to hard-to-reach areas. Congestion at border crossings is related to the increase in the volume of commercial cargo.


Around 9.3 million people across Ukraine are estimated to be in need of food and livelihood assistance. Low-income households affected by the conflict are likely to experience Stressed (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity. At least 600,000 people need nutrition support.

According to the Joint Market Monitoring Initiative May 2022 report, 95% of customers nationwide reported full availability of food items. This is a 7% improvement in comparison to April’s report. However, respondents living in occupied territories and near ongoing hostilities more often reported limited availability of food items, including 19% in the East and 7% in the South.

There is concern about older adults inside Ukraine considering their specific vulnerabilities and food requirements. Older adults may choose or be compelled to shelter in place.


The Protection Cluster and UNHCR published a report entitled, “Protection of LGBTIQ+ People in the Context of the Response in Ukraine,” focusing on the war’s impacts on LGBTIQ+ people. The report recommends that humanitarian actors and service providers understand and address risks through tailored programs.

According to UNOCHA’s Situation Report on Sept. 21, “Some 2.1 million people out of the 7.8 million targeted under the revised Flash Appeal remain in need of protection interventions in Ukraine. Overall, some 17.7 million people are in need of protection services until the end of 2022.”

Russia’s deadly attacks on several Ukrainian cities on Oct. 10-11 have led to calls for increased protection of civilians and civilian objects.

Among newly displaced people, a high percentage of older people and people with disabilities are in need of social and health care support, including accommodation in specialized institutions. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Catherine Russell said, “Ukraine’s children urgently need safety, stability, access to safe learning, child protection services, and psychosocial support.”

In their Oct. 12 Situation Report, UNOCHA said, “A more robust humanitarian response is needed to assist people with disabilities who require stronger protection support (case management, social accompaniment, home-based care) and to ensure they can access multi-sectoral assistance, including disability-accessible accommodation in areas to which they are being relocated.”

Explosive ordnance remains a growing protection concern across the country. Currently, limited humanitarian space exists for mine action activities beyond educational messages, training of NGOs on risks and monitoring of accidents. However, the retreat of Russian forces around Kyiv and to the north and northeast has opened the possibility of an explosive ordnance clearing operation.

Refugees and IDPs are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Economic need is one of the most often identified vulnerability factors for trafficking in persons.

The psychological consequences of the war in Ukraine can seem invisible, but that does not mean they aren’t there. As the war continues, mental health providers are seeing worsening psychological symptoms. A project coordinated by the Office of the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and partners is supporting mobile teams in providing psychosocial support to IDPs and others affected by violence. There are up to 100 mobile teams across 21 oblasts.

One in five families reaching out to mobile health teams put together by UNICEF and the Ukrainian Public Health Foundation need mental health support. The Norwegian Refugee Council has warned that Ukrainian children are at risk of long-term mental health problems.

In collaboration with The KonTerra Group, the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation has developed a series of free videos on mental health topics to support refugees, internally displaced people, host families and at-risk communities in Ukraine and neighboring countries. The videos are available for free on DisasterReady’s YouTube channel in English, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian.


More than 11.2 million people are in need of emergency shelter or vital household items. Preparations for winter are underway, with home repairs and the distribution of essential items ongoing. However, the needs are exceeding the capacity of partners, especially in the east. Other shelter and non-food items currently needed include generators, stoves and solid fuel.

The winter temperature is predicted to plummet as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit (–20 degrees Celsius) in parts of the country. With millions of Ukrainians living in damaged buildings not suited to harsh winter conditions, helping people prepare for winter is essential.

UNOCHA’s Winterization Plan targets 1.7 million people needing early winterization support. The plan calls for items such as thermal blankets and heating appliances, winterization repairs to collective centers that provide shelter for IDPs, insulation and repairs for damaged homes in isolated rural areas, and livestock shelters. UNOCHA says there have been requests for heating equipment and fuel from local authorities to prepare for the upcoming cold months. However, partners’ capacities remain limited.

According to IOM’s General Population Survey (Round 9), “The need for shelter repair materials continually grows throughout Ukraine (from 18.5% in June to 27% in September), shared equally across population groups. The need is particularly high in the South, North, and Center macro-regions (30% and higher). Overall, 12M individuals are estimated to be in need of shelter repair materials in Ukraine (as a share of the general population).”

Local procurement within Ukraine remains challenging as the capacity of markets vary in the country. The Global Shelter Cluster Environment Community of Practice has produced a document summarizing environment considerations. The Ukraine Shelter and Non-Food Item Cluster tracks progress and supports coordination across humanitarian partners.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

Around 16 million people in Ukraine need water, sanitation and hygiene assistance. As of Oct. 26, WASH Cluster partners had reached 5.7 million people in Ukraine. However, more organizations are needed to meet the needs. There are a limited number of partners with contingency supplies and funds for rapid interventions. Additionally, few organizations are prepared to respond to potential damage to heating networks during the winter months.

In their Aug. 24 Situation Report, UNOCHA said, “The risk of disease outbreaks has considerably increased due to the lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene, crowded conditions in underground shelters and collective centres, as well as suboptimal coverage for routine vaccinations.”

According to the Joint Market Monitoring Initiative May report, 87% of customers reported full availability of basic hygiene items. However, 25% of respondents in the east and 13% in the south reported limited availability of hygiene items. The WASH Cluster priority areas are in the east and in other conflict-affected accessible areas, areas under threat and areas with newly displaced people.

The CDP Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund focuses on addressing humanitarian needs that arise, particularly among the most vulnerable, marginalized and at-risk internally-displaced peoples and refugees. CDP is also in contact with and can grant to Ukrainian and other international organizations that are not 501(c)3 entities.

Support recovery now

Contact CDP

Philanthropic contributions

If you would like to make a donation to the CDP Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund, please contact development.

Recovery updates

If you are a responding NGO, please send updates on how you are working in this crisis to Responding donors are also encouraged to contact Tanya to share how they are innovatively assisting people in Ukraine and receiving communities.

Donor recommendations

If you are a donor looking for recommendations on how to help in this crisis, please email

Philanthropic and government support

There has been a strong philanthropic response to the war in Ukraine. The Council on Foundations maintains a webpage summarizing philanthropy’s response. According to Candid’s latest figures, 1,743 donations and pledges worth more than $2.66 billion have been made in support of the Ukrainian people. Of these, 1,552 are grants worth $1,499,488,771 and 191 are pledges worth $1,169,539,480. Learn more about how you can share your data with Candid.

Grants from the philanthropic community vary in size, focus and sector. The following are examples of the diversity of philanthropy’s response:

On Aug. 8, the UN and humanitarian partners launched a revised Ukraine Flash Appeal, the third iteration of the Flash Appeal. The revised Flash Appeal covers the period between March and December 2022. It requests $4.29 billion to support 11.5 million people in need, which is a 90% increase in financial requirements compared with the previous revision in April.

As of Nov. 20, donors funded 71.1% of the $4.29 billion sought. The financial support level is significant, considering humanitarian emergencies are often underfunded. Also, some donors have redirected funding to Ukraine from other humanitarian crises, which risks worsening these crises with serious human costs.

The Ukraine Situation Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) seeks $1.85 billion to assist a project refugee population of 8.3 million people. According to UNOCHA, 50.2% of this figure has been funded as of Nov. 21.

In April, UNOCHA released an updated UN Business Guide for the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis, which includes information about how the private sector can help. All response activities should be guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence and Do No Harm.

On Nov. 8, the U.S., through the U.S. Agency for International Development, announced it is providing an additional $25 million for winterization assistance. In the 2022 fiscal year, the U.S. provided more than $1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance to affected people inside Ukraine and those fleeing to neighboring countries.

On Oct. 19, the European Commission announced a new emergency shelter and winterized facilities program for Ukraine. The Commission will provide more than $176 million (€175 million) to support people in need in Ukraine and Moldova.

More ways to help

As with most disasters, cash donations are recommended by disaster experts as they allow for on-the-ground agencies to direct funds to the greatest area of need, support economic recovery and ensure donation management does not detract from disaster recovery needs.

The UN Business Guide describes how the private sector can help. In the Guide, UNOCHA “urges companies to refrain from sending unsolicited donations that may not correspond to identified needs or meet international quality standards.”  Donors are encouraged to send cash rather than in-kind donations and support activities with the Flash Appeal and the RRRP.

CDP has also created a list of suggestions for foundations to consider related to disaster giving. These include:

  • Prioritize investments in local organizations: Local humanitarian leaders and organizations play a vital role in providing immediate relief and setting the course for long-term equitable recovery in communities after a disaster or crisis. However, these leaders and organizations are mostly under-resourced and underfunded. Strive to grant to locally-led entities as much as possible. When granting to trusted international partners with deep roots in targeted countries, more consideration should be given to those that empower local and national stakeholders.
  • Recognize there are places and ways that private philanthropy can help that other donors may not: Private funders can support nimble and innovative solutions that leverage or augment the larger humanitarian system response, either filling gaps or modeling change that, once tested and proven, can be taken to scale within the broader humanitarian response structure. Philanthropy can also provide sustainable funding to national and local organizations that support much-needed operational costs.
  • All funders are disaster philanthropists: Even if your organization does not work in a particular geographic area or fund immediate relief efforts, you can look for ways to tie disaster funding into your existing mission. If you focus on education, health, children or marginalized populations, disasters present prime opportunities for funding.
  • Ask the experts: If you are considering supporting an organization that is positioned to work in an affected area, do some research. CDP and InterAction can provide resources and guidance about organizations working in affected communities.

Related resources

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Internally Displaced People

Internally Displaced People

Internally displaced persons are those who have been forced to flee their homes, in particular as a result of armed conflict, generalized violence, violations of human rights or disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized border.



Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their home countries because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.

Older Individuals

Older Individuals

Disasters disproportionately affect older people. Yet, this population is often “invisible” in terms of data about risks and needs, guidelines, planning and overall understanding of their unique needs during a disaster.