After months of posturing while simultaneously denying any plans to attack, Russia’s Vladimir Putin 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.
In their Situation Report on June 15, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said, “Nearly four months since the start of the war, the humanitarian situation across Ukraine—particularly in eastern Donbas—is extremely alarming and continues to deteriorate rapidly.” Humanitarian challenges continue to grow and aid workers are anticipating a multi-year recovery will be required.
(Photo: Border crossing point in Medyka, Poland. Source: Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration via Twitter)
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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- As of June 22, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported 10,403 civilian casualties in the country, including 4,634 killed and 5,769 injured. Of those killed, 1,780 were men, 1,194 were women, and 279 were children (131 girls and 148 boys). Gender is not known on an additional 41 child and 1,340 adult fatalities. 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 June 21, more than 8 million refugees have crossed borders into neighboring countries since Feb. 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
- As of May 23, there are 7.1 million IDPs in Ukraine. The number of IDPs decreased by 11% from May 3 to May 23.
- As of June 8, there were more than 5 million cases of COVID-19 and 108,622 deaths in Ukraine. The active hostilities and COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating chronic mental health problems.
- The UN and humanitarian partners issued the revised Flash Appeal and Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) on April 25, with nearly $4.1 billion required to meet the needs of 22 million people inside and outside Ukraine. According to UNOCHA, donors have funded 78.5% of the $2.25 billion requested in the Flash Appeal.
- As of June 16, UN and its humanitarian partners have provided aid to more than 8.8 million people across Ukraine.
Safe passage and access to aid
Evacuations from some of the hardest-hit areas remain limited. However, evacuation efforts are ongoing. For example, Ukraine’s Joint Forces Task Force reported on June 9 that more than 600 people had been evacuated in eastern Ukraine in the previous 24 hours. Some organizations, including Médecins sans Frontières, continue to evacuate injured people who need medical attention from eastern Ukraine.
The lack of humanitarian access has prevented aid workers from providing life-saving assistance. Residents in the city of Sievierodonetsk, Luhanska oblast, find it challenging to access piped water, sanitation, health services or electricity.
Although telecommunications infrastructure remains operational throughout most of Ukraine, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster expects that security and access to some locations will be a significant constraint in its ability to implement solutions in the country.
Refugees and internally displaced peoples
As of June 21, Poland had seen 4,146,144 border crossings from Ukrainians fleeing the war, the most of any neighboring country. It is estimated that 600,000 people are 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. According to the revised Ukraine Situation RRRP, 90% of refugees are women and children.
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 June 21, 1,324,703 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 5), an estimated 7,134,000 people have been internally displaced within the country as of May 23, 16.2% of Ukraine’s population. Of these, 64% are women and 36% are men and 49% of IDP households include one or more older persons.
The overall estimated number of IDPs decreased by 11% from May 3 to May 23. However, there were regional differences. Ukraine’s western region saw a significant decline in IDPs while the East saw an increase.
IOM estimates 4,481,000 returnees, including formers IDPs from locations within Ukraine and self-reported returns from outside the country. IOM noted that return dynamics are not consistent, and 9% of this latest number indicated they might leave their homes again due to the war.
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, just over 6,500 Ukrainians have arrived in the U.S. as of June 1. U.S. officials have also authorized the travel of 27,000 additional Ukrainians identified by American sponsors. 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.
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.
UN OCHA 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 5), 26% of IDP households had one or more people living with a disability and 49% included at least one older person. The majority of IDPs that reported feeling “completely unsafe” were located in the East.
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. Approximately 3.6 million children are impacted by the nationwide closure of schools. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science, 1,755 education facilities have been damaged and 184 destroyed.
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.
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.
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.
Around 10.2 million people across Ukraine are estimated to require food and livelihood assistance between March and August 2022. The lack of unimpeded access to affected and encircled areas of the country is hindering the delivery of food assistance.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that it needs an additional $115 million to assist Ukrainian farmers and households. The FAO said, “the funding would help prevent further deterioration of the food insecurity situation and worsen the disruption of food supply chains in Ukraine. There is an urgency to support Ukrainian farmers in planting vegetables and potatoes during this spring season, and farmers should be allowed and supported to go to their fields and save the winter wheat harvest. FAO has estimated that one-third of Ukrainian crops and agricultural land may not be harvested or cultivated in 2022.”
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 WFP has urged for a “political solution” as the closure of Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea threatens food supplies globally.
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. On May 3, the UN and the government of Ukraine signed a framework to assist survivors of sexual violence.
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.
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 5), IOM reported that when asked to identify their single most pressing need, “cash (financial support) was identified by the largest number of IDPs (57.3% indicated this was their most pressing need), followed by medicines (4.5%). The growing need for financial assistance is associated with a lack and a significant decrease in income levels.”
As of June 8, the Cash Working Group (CWG) partners have distributed multipurpose cash assistance to 1.76 million people, totaling $238.5 million in transfers. Given the prominence of multipurpose cash as a modality of aid, market monitoring is key to ensuring that humanitarian intervention is effective. Most customers across Ukraine report full availability of food (87%), basic hygiene items (79%) and medication (61%). However, regional differences exist, particularly in the south, with more limited availability of necessary items.
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.
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. Donors have funded 50% of the Cluster’s initial 2022 requirements.
Around 10.2 million people across Ukraine are estimated to be in need of food and livelihood assistance between March and August 2022. 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.
More than one-third of Ukraine’s population is food insecure. The most affected oblasts are southern and eastern, and the highest prevalence of food insecurity was registered in Luhanska oblast.
Disruptions to supply chains and markets across the country mean that even when food is available, people may not be able to access it. Loss of livelihoods and access to sources of income is affecting people’s purchasing power and food security. 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 June 15: “Some 15.7 million people are estimated to be in need of protection assistance and services between March and August 2022, including 2.1 million children, 3.3 million people in need of protection services mitigating the risks and outcomes of gender-based violence (GBV), and 14.5 million people in need of mine action-related assistance.”
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 Ministry for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine estimates that more than 3.5 million Ukrainian homes have been destroyed or damaged since Feb. 24.
According to IOM’s General Population Survey (Round 5),, “the need for shelter repair materials has increased significantly across Ukraine with the exception of Kyiv.”
According to UNOCHA’s Situation Report on June 3: “Some 6.2 million people are estimated to be in need of shelter and NFI [non-food items] between March and August 2022.”
Local procurement within Ukraine remains challenging as the capacity of markets varies in the country. The Global Shelter Cluster Environment Community of Practice has produced a document summarizing environment considerations.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
Around 13 million people in Ukraine need water, sanitation and hygiene assistance between March and August 2022.
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.
If you are a responding NGO, please send updates on how you are working in this crisis to email@example.com. Responding donors are also encouraged to contact Tanya to share how they are innovatively assisting people in Ukraine and receiving communities.
If you are a donor looking for recommendations on how to help in this crisis, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, 1,134 donations and pledges worth more than $1.8 billion have been made in support of the Ukrainian people. Of this 960 are grants worth $1,179,194,476 and 174 are pledges worth $696,733,080. 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:
- The DWF Foundation provided $2,725 (£2,500 GBP) to Polish Humanitarian Action in support of their efforts to provide humanitarian aid including food.
- Pacific Life Foundation provided $250,000 to UNICEF in support of their work with children and families affected by the war in Ukraine.
- UEFA Foundation for Children provided $109,000 (€100,000) to the Football Association of Moldova to provide medicines and supplies to children’s hospitals within Ukraine.
- Boeing Company Charitable Trust provided $2 million in assistance to several organizations including CARE, American Red Cross and Americares.
On April 25, the UN and humanitarian partners launched a revised Flash Appeal for Ukraine, building on the initial appeal published on March 1. In the six weeks between appeals, needs have continued to rise while the humanitarian response has expanded significantly. The revised Flash Appeal calls for $2.25 billion to provide assistance and protection to nearly nine million people inside Ukraine. This figure is more than double the initial appeal reflecting the scale of humanitarian need in the country.
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, 23.6% of this figure has been funded.
On April 21: “The Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani … announced the release of an additional US$50 million from the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF) to support nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations agencies to continue to expand their life-saving work, following the most recent escalation of the war in the country. This is the largest allocation in the history of the fund, established in 2019. With this new disbursement, OCHA’s humanitarian funds will have allocated over $158 million for life-saving operations in Ukraine since Russia Federation’s invasion on 24 February, including nearly $98 million from the UHF and $60 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).”
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 June 15, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would provide more than $225 million in additional humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. The U.S. government says it has provided nearly $914 million in aid for the people of Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.
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:
- Understand that recovery is possible in protracted and complex crisis settings: Even while focusing on immediate needs, remember that there are early and long-term recovery needs too. We know that people who have been affected by shocks in complex humanitarian contexts can recover and improve their situation without waiting until the crisis is over, which may take years. Recovery is possible and funding will be needed for recovery efforts alongside humanitarian funding. Recovery will take a long time and funding will be needed throughout.
- 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 operational costs evolution, independence and other efforts on behalf of affected people.
- 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.
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.
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.