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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.

In 2023, 17.6 million people in Ukraine require humanitarian assistance, 45% of whom are women, 23% are children and 15% are people with disabilities. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in their Dec. 19 Ukraine Situation Report, “Regular waves of attacks on energy infrastructure continue to cause destruction and leave millions of people across Ukraine with no electricity, disrupting water supply and heating systems, while temperatures have fallen below zero in most parts of the country. The attacks have also damaged other civilian infrastructure, including homes, as well as killed and injured civilians across Ukraine over the past couple of weeks.”

Disruption to utilities poses significant humanitarian challenges. Human Rights Watch has raised concerns about Russian attacks on the energy grid and the harm done to civilians and Amnesty International called for Russia to “end its unlawful targeted assaults on civilian infrastructure.”

In October, 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.” Humanitarian organizations, including CARE, have warned that the severe winter weather and continued attacks on civilian energy infrastructure could lead to a second refugee crisis. In addition to the impact of destroyed and damaged infrastructure, scheduled blackouts to mitigate the power shortages have a ripple effect, disrupting the ability of households to heat their homes and access water.

Analysis by REACH released on Jan. 31, 2023 found that Kharkivska, Dnipropretrovska and Donetsk oblasts in Ukraine’s east faced particularly high exposure and vulnerability to severe winter hazards. Populations at increased risk include IDPs, older adults, and lower-income households. An information campaign launched by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the State Emergency Service aims to raise awareness of the safe use of generators, gas burners, heating stoves and candles amid the power and heating outages across Ukraine.

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

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 Jan. 30, 2023, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported 18,657 civilian casualties in the country, including 7,110 killed and 11,547 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.” On Dec. 15, an aid worker was killed with another civilian during an attack in Kherson.
  • As of Jan. 31, 2023, more than 8.04 million refugees from Ukraine were recorded across Europe according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  • As of Dec. 5, there are 5.9 million IDPs in Ukraine. This represents a slight decrease compared to 6.5 million at the end of October. However, among these, 680,000 have been newly displaced within the previous 30 days.
  • Nearly a year of war has left one in three families food insecure, 18 million people needing humanitarian assistance, and displaced more than one-third of the country’s population.
  • Between Feb. 24, 2022, and Feb. 1, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) verified 764 attacks on health care in Ukraine, resulting in 101 deaths and 131 injuries.
  • As of Feb. 1, 2023, there were more than 5.37 million cases of COVID-19 and 111,020 deaths in Ukraine. The active hostilities and the 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 Jan. 16, donors funded 79.7% 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.
  • In December, UNOCHA said the number of aid organizations working in Ukraine had increased five-fold in the past nine months to 700. More than 60% are national non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
  • As of Jan. 5, UN agencies and humanitarian partners have
    reached 13.9 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.”

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.

A new wave of missile attacks in early December 2022 targeting energy infrastructure in Ukraine left around 10 million people without electricity, and millions cut off from water and heating supplies. The combination of winter’s arrival and the continued destruction of critical infrastructure has added new dimensions to the humanitarian crisis in the country.

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.

On Jan. 20, UNOCHA delivered aid to around 800 people close to Soledar in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, its first delivery to the area as it tries to increase aid to front-line areas.

On Dec. 15, an aid distribution center in Kherson was hit, killing at least two people, including a humanitarian worker. According to UNOCHA, “Across the oblast, damages to schools, sports and community centres, medical facilities, residential buildings and energy systems have been reported.” Despite the continuation of fighting, inter-agency convoys are successfully reaching affected people close to the front lines.

In October 2022, NGOs called for unhindered access for all humanitarian staff and assistance, including in areas outside Ukrainian control, which continues to be denied. Now that winter is here, humanitarian organizations are 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, 2022 to Jan. 31, 2023, there were more than 18.15 million border crossings from Ukraine, according to UNHCR. As of Jan. 31, 8,046,560 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 Jan. 31, Poland had seen 9,329,169 border crossings from Ukrainians fleeing the war and 1,563,386 refugees from Ukraine registered in the country, the most of any neighboring country.

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 Jan. 31, 2,451,726 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.

In their Jan. 27 Ukraine Situation Flash Update, UNHCR said that the number of border crossings to neighboring countries consistently exceeded departures to Ukraine in the reporting period. In 2023, UNHCR’s primary focus will be “to advocate for their [refugees] inclusion in national systems and to support governments in these efforts. Working hand in hand with national and local actors, UNHCR will aim to ensure that refugees have access to education, employment, housing, social welfare and medical or other assistance, which will also strengthen social cohesion.”

According to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) General Population Survey (Round 11), an estimated 5,914,000 people have been internally displaced within the country since Oct. 26. Of these, 57% are women and 43% are men, and 42% of IDP households include one or more older persons.

The estimated number of IDPs decreased by 626,000 people from Oct. 27 to Nov. 25. The largest number of IDPs are located in the east. Those displaced may have been forced to move multiple times, including before February 2022, during the past eight years of conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Source: UNOCHA

IOM estimates 5,236,000 total returnees since Oct. 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. According to a winter needs assessment carried out by the International Rescue Committee in five oblasts in December 2022, 25% of respondents did not have access to sufficient heating and 61.3% said their houses needed repairs.

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. as of September 2022. 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.

According to the 2023 Ukraine Humanitarian Needs Overview, “The highest severity of needs is among people living in areas under the temporary military control of the Russian Federation and in areas directly affected by active hostilities.”

Additionally, among people who remain in towns and villages, the highest needs are in the east, especially among older people and people with disabilities.

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. The harsh winter weather and lack of power and electricity caused by Russian attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure creates particular challenges for older people because of existing health problems, limited mobility and little income.

According to a report by Amnesty International released on Dec. 6, “older people in Ukraine have been disproportionately impacted by death and injury during Russia’s invasion and are unable to access housing on an equal basis with others after being displaced.” Older people often remain in or are not able to flee affected areas, meaning they are exposed to harm.

According to the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) General Population Survey (Round 11), 25% of IDP households had one or more people living with a disability and 42% 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.

On Jan. 24, 2023, International Day of Education, UNICEF said, “Some 5.3 million children face barriers preventing access to education, including 3.6 million children directly affected by school closures.” The UN agency warned that this places children in Ukraine at risk of losing critical years of schooling and social development.

After Feb. 24, 2022, 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. Ukraine’s Ministry of Education says that since the war began, more than 2,600 schools have been damaged and over 400 destroyed across Ukraine.

The first day of school for the new 2022-2023 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. A mere 25% of Ukrainian schools nationwide have been able to offer full-time, in-person learning since September 2022. On Jan. 24, 2023, Save the Children said one school has been destroyed every other day in Ukraine since the start of the academic year in September 2022.

Multiple forms of gender-based violence (GBV) have been reported, with high risk for women and girls fleeing, at border crossing points, transit centers and bomb shelters. A report from HIAS and VOICE released in May 2022 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.

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 the 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 predicted 30% negative growth in Ukraine’s GDP in 2022. 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 in 2022.
  • 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 released in March 2022 indicated 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 were reports in May 2022 that the NGCA of Khersonska oblast (south) has begun exporting grain to the Russian Federation.

According to OEC, “The top exports of Ukraine are Seed Oils ($5.32B), Corn ($4.89B), Wheat ($4.61B), Iron Ore ($4.27B), and Semi-Finished Iron ($3.03B), exporting mostly to China ($7.26B), Poland ($3.26B), Russia ($2.97B), Turkey ($2.5B), and Egypt ($2.39B).”

Sunflower may be the most important crop to the Ukrainian economy, considering the size of agricultural holdings, the value of its products and the number of jobs it creates. From Feb. 24 to Oct. 4, 2022, REACH recorded 72 cases of damage or destruction of agricultural machinery. The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the country’s sunflower oil processing supply chain has been significant.

Fires impacting agricultural facilities were reported in central Dnipropetrovska oblast in July 2022. The attack escalation will likely contributed to significant harvest disruption and impacts on 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. Ukraine and Russia export 28% of the world’s wheat and 15% of its corn.

Source: McKinsey & Company

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. The agreement was due to expire on Nov. 19, however, an extension was reached for another 120 days.

Ukraine says speeding up inspections of ships is key to increasing exports under the agreement. Russia continues to restrict most shipments from Ukraine and attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure contribute to disrupting the flow of food onto global markets. However, despite grain once again leaving Ukrainian ports and fertilizer prices falling, the world is still struggling with the worst food crisis in modern history. Concerns remain, given that food prices appear to have stabilized at high levels.

Source: CNN
Women and girls

During all disasters, there are unique needs faced by women and girls, and these are exacerbated in a conflict crisis. In 2023, 44% of the 17.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance are women, and 11% are girls. Expectations of traditional gender roles are likely to have compounding impacts on women and men in Ukraine. As of July 2022, 61% of registered unemployed persons in Ukraine are women. For displaced women and new returnees, finding new livelihoods is a considerable challenge.

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 released in May 2022 revealed that top concerns for women and girls include threats to physical safety, food insecurity and lack of healthcare access.

In a note on the gender-related impacts of the conflict in April 2022, 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 in April 2022, “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.”

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 toward rebuilding their lives and has become a primary way for humanitarian organizations to distribute assistance quickly to affected people.

According to the WFP, households predominantly rely on cash to purchase food. In their General Population Survey (Round 11), 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 (53% indicate this is their most pressing need), followed by solid fuels (7%).”

As of Dec. 8, humanitarian partners distributed multipurpose cash assistance worth $1 billion to 5.11 million people. Humanitarians targeted 6.3 million people to receive assistance through multipurpose cash between March and December 2022. Given the prominence of multipurpose cash as a modality of aid, market monitoring is key to ensuring that humanitarian intervention is effective.

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. During the harsh winter, food may be in short supply and rising prices affect older adults.


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 UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said, “Ukraine’s children urgently need safety, stability, access to safe learning, child protection services, and psychosocial support.”

A report from Amnesty International released on Dec. 6, revealed that many older adults are unable to access housing in displacement. The organization recommended that “International organizations should do more to financially support older people so that they can afford to rent homes and, working together with the Ukrainian authorities, include them among those prioritized for placement in any newly-built accommodation.”

In their Dec. 19 Situation Report, UNOCHA said, “According to the Age and Disability Working Group assessment, more than 60 per cent of surveyed older people and people with disabilities are not prepared for winter. Urgent needs reported include financial assistance (marked by 72 per cent of the respondents), medicine (51 per cent), blankets or thermal blankets (45 per cent), clothes and shoes (42 per cent).”

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.

According to a report released by the Ukrainian Healthcare Centre (UHC), 80% of the healthcare infrastructure in Mariupol, was destroyed as Russian forces occupied the city. UHC found that four out of five general hospitals were destroyed, five out of six maternity facilities and no mental health care was available. The lack of healthcare provision increases the threat of disease and sickness. The WHO has said attacks on healthcare facilities are a breach of international humanitarian law and the rules of war.

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. Protection Cluster partners shared in their Jan. 18 meeting that they observe continuing requests and are increasing access to counseling and psychological support to bear with blackouts and shortages of running water and heating.

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.

Critical work is ongoing to strengthen the emergency response system and build up primary and community mental health care provision. On Dec. 16, the WHO shared best practices they are learning from Ukraine regarding scaling up mental health and psychosocial services in war-affected regions.

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 were made in advance with priorities including home repairs, adequate living conditions in collective sites and the distribution of essential items. 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.

Damage to housing is among the drivers of displacement in Ukraine. The humanitarian situation is likely to deteriorate during winter due to the extensive scale of damage to housing and infrastructure, and limited access to heating materials.

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. Russia’s invasion has led to thousands of displaced older adults in desperate need of housing assistance and rental support. The highest need for shelter materials is in the parts of the country where the government of Ukraine has recently retaken control.

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 cold months. However, partners’ capacities remain limited.

According to IOM’s General Population Survey (Round 11), 17% of IDP respondents seeking to integrate into their current location said they need support to access secure and affordable housing. Among the respondents, 2% said they need support “to repair, upgrade, and/or winterize existing housing.”

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 Nov. 30, WASH Cluster partners had reached 6.87 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.

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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, 1,785 donations and pledges worth more than $2.79 billion have been made in support of the Ukrainian people. Of these 1,591 are grants worth $1,581,399,185 and 194 are pledges worth $1,214,539,480. Learn more about how you can share your data with Candid.

CDP’s Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund focuses on medium- and long-term recovery, ensuring access to basic services and strengthening the protection of those affected by the humanitarian crisis and COVID-19. The following are some of the grants awarded through this fund.

  • $250,000 to Association of Roma Women in 2022 to ensure the long-term capacity, stability and organizational development of this Roma women-led organization, which provides humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable affected Roma populations in Ukraine and who works on the economic recovery of the Roma community.
  • $250,000 to Charitable Foundation Rokada in 2022 to facilitate the integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) through the creation of Councils of IDPs, which include representatives of local communities, IDPs and executive authorities. The Councils of IDPs are advisory bodies and are involved in the decision-making and resolution of problematic issues related to the implementation of state policy in the field of protection of the rights of IDPs.
  • $250,000 to Kyiv Pride in 2022 to implement a program offering newly displaced and/or unemployed LGBTQIA+ IDPs a temporary place to stay, psychosocial support and trauma therapy during their transition and integration, new skills training, stipends for basic needs while they gain new skills, then startup grant and support to enable them to be self-sufficient.
  • $164,054 to NGO Fulcrum UA in 2022 to improve access to inclusive psychological support and services for employees in Ukraine, leading to improved services in the workplace to deal with trauma, stress and burnout caused by the war. The grant will allow NGO Fulcrum UA to develop educational materials and provide practical support to business psychologists and human resource professionals.
  • $872,336 to HelpAge USA in 2022 from CDP’s COVID-19 Response Fund and Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund to improve the lives of older people, by influencing the UN-led international humanitarian system and three country-level systems to be more inclusive of older people. The project will empower NGO humanitarian actors in Ukraine, Moldova and Ethiopia to deliver age-inclusive humanitarian response and recovery programs and ensure the participation of older people in identifying their priority needs and longer-term recovery solutions.
  • $491,000 to OutRight International in 2022 to assess and document the needs of LGBTIQ people in Ukraine and how humanitarian assessment, response and recovery plans are meeting or failing to meet those needs. The project will also make LGBTIQ inclusion visible in key humanitarian spaces through meaningful participation, convening and connecting all relevant actors, and advocating and raising awareness for LGBTIQ inclusion among humanitarian organizations and agencies for application in Ukraine and other countries in the future.
  • $900,000 to Save the Children in 2022 to equip 15 kindergartens, reach 2,250 children, and train 750 parents/caregivers and 150 teachers on Early Childhood Development tools and approaches. The program will use Sesame Workshop resources so conflict-affected children have access to safe, quality, and inclusive learning and play.
  • $749,362 to Deakin University’s Centre for Humanitarian Leadership in 2022 to elevate, empower and strengthen local civil society leadership in the Ukraine humanitarian crisis, enhancing disaster recovery capabilities of local organizations by strengthening local leadership, knowledge, understanding and ability to effectively engage with, advocate for their needs and influence response and recovery plans and decisions currently made in the ‘international humanitarian system’.

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 Jan. 16, donors had funded 79.7% of the $4.29 billion sought. The U.S. remains far and away the Flash Appeal’s top donor. 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, 50.7% of this figure has been funded as of Feb. 1, 2023.

On Jan. 18, Samantha Power, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, announced $125 million in energy support for Ukraine including gas turbines, high voltage autotransformers, distribution substation repair equipment and backup power for Kyiv’s water supply and district heating services.

On Nov. 8, the U.S., through USAID, 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.

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.

In an example of corporate philanthropy and engagement between the U.S. government and the private sector, USAID delivered laptops donated by HP Inc. to support education for internally displaced Ukrainians in December. The devices were donated as part of HP’s Digital Equity for Ukraine initiative. Microsoft also donated software for the laptops. On Jan. 19, 2023, USAID and Bayer announced a donation of high-quality vegetable seeds to Ukrainian farmers.

On Oct. 19, the European Commission (EC) 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. On Dec. 16, the EC announced an agreement with the Government of Ukraine to provide more than $106 million (€100 million) to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged schooling facilities.

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.