Softly earmarked funding was crucial for UNHCR’s response to the emergency triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one of the largest displacement crises since World War II. In 2022, nearly one third of Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes. An estimated 5.9 million people were displaced within the country and nearly 5.7 million refugees and asylum-seekers were recorded across Europe.
UNHCR assessed the needs for the situation at a total of $1.417 billion. By the end of the year, those needs were 94% funded, mainly financed by $802 million of softly earmarked funds. This astounding response had an important knock-on effect for UNHCR’s other operations: it meant that the Ukraine situation did not tie up any unearmarked funding. So, despite the vast and unforeseen needs arising from the conflict in Ukraine, all the unearmarked funding that UNHCR received remained available for use in other emergencies and neglected situations. The many thousands of donors who made this possible were led by Germany, which donated $83 million in softly earmarked funds, the Akelius Foundation, which contributed more than $52.1 million, the United Kingdom, the United States, Epic Games International S.à r.l., and many other governments, companies and individuals.
The funding meant UNHCR could significantly scale up operations in Ukraine and refugee-hosting States, establishing coordination structures for inter-agency activities and supporting Government-led responses. UNHCR and its partners reached 4.3 million people inside Ukraine with assistance. Protection monitoring, previously carried out along the “contact line”, was rolled out countrywide, and UNHCR’s partners set up a regular presence at Ukraine’s border crossing points with EU Member States and the Republic of Moldova to provide support to those fleeing the war and seeking safety abroad.
UNHCR disbursed $202 million in multi-purpose and protection-specific cash assistance to nearly 500,000 refugees. UNHCR also directly assisted nearly 500,000 refugees from Ukraine with protection services, including through 39 “Blue Dot hubs” established by UNHCR, UNICEF and other partners in eight refugee-hosting countries. Refugees received protection counselling and help with accessing accommodation, education, health care, livelihoods and assistance for specific needs. In addition, more than 1.7 million people were reached through the “Stay Safe” campaign, with key messages on protection risks during flight and onward movements. UNHCR’s Help pages in all countries neighbouring Ukraine were continuously updated with key information for refugees and received more than 2.5 million visits in 2022.