Ukraine situation


The Russian invasion of Ukraine and full-scale war has caused the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis since the Second World War. 

Andrei and Ludmila managed to flee their home in Bucha. After seventeen days of hiding in their basement, they ran out of insulin for their 8 year old son Maksim. They escaped through various military checkpoints. In Poland they are hosted by a Polish family. © UNHCR/Maciej Moskwa
Andrei and Ludmila managed to flee their home in Bucha. After seventeen days of hiding in their basement, they ran out of insulin for their 8 year old son Maksim. They escaped through various military checkpoints. In Poland they are hosted by a Polish family. © UNHCR/Maciej Moskwa
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2022 Year-end population figures 

  • Refugees and asylum-seekers: 5.7 million, 87% are women and children 
  • IDPs: 5.9 million 

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2022 situation overview

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and full-scale war has caused the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis since the Second World War. In 2022, nearly one third of Ukrainians were forced to flee their homes. By the end of year, an estimated 5.9 million people were internally displaced by the war, while nearly 5.7 million refugees and asylum-seekers from Ukraine were recorded across Europe.

In response, UNHCR significantly scaled 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. By year-end, UNHCR disbursed $226 million to around 1 million people to meet their most urgent needs. UNHCR and its partners also assisted more than 1.3 million people with protection services including legal assistance, information on rights and entitlements, psychosocial support, child protection and gender-based violence prevention and response. 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. Given the number of actors involved in the response and the fact that the majority of refugees were women and children, UNHCR trained over 1,100 staff of more than 110 humanitarian partners on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) and supported 18 PSEA risk assessments to identify and seek to mitigate key risks. Given the massive destruction of homes, energy and other essential infrastructure in Ukraine, winterization activities were crucial. UNHCR assisted nearly 1.5 million people through cash assistance top-ups, winterized non-food items, the improvement of reception facilities and the repair of individual homes.

UNHCR’s response was coordinated closely with the Government of Ukraine at the central and local level, with the aim of reinforcing the national response and systems. Building on the existing inter-agency coordination structures, UNHCR scaled up coordination of the Protection and the Shelter and Non-Food Item clusters and helped launch a new Camp Coordination and Camp Management cluster.

UNHCR also prioritized support for local actors in Ukraine. 200 community groups were supported through capacity-building initiatives and helped to implement small-scale projects like information hubs, awareness-raising campaigns, social and cultural events, and psychosocial and recreational activities. Such initiatives served to strengthen social cohesion between people displaced in Ukraine and the communities hosting them. More than 1,000 people from community associations were trained in outreach to war-affected populations, including those at risk of exclusion or neglect, or who had difficulties accessing humanitarian support.

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. 

The European Union’s Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) and similar national protection schemes across the continent provided a sound legal framework for the protection and inclusion of refugees in national systems. Nearly 5 million Ukrainians registered for temporary protection in Europe during the year. To learn about refugees’ experiences, future intentions, and protection risks, UNHCR carried out protection monitoring and collection of information through missions, surveys and interviews. This informed priorities for the refugee response, and the results were shared and consulted on with national authorities, civil society, NGOs, development agencies, private sector actors and refugee communities. In particular, protection monitoring data highlighted that 78% of respondents had been separated from immediate family members, which exacerbated protection risks for the refugee community. Refugees also called attention to the often interdependent barriers to their enjoyment of rights under the TPD, including barriers to registration, documentation, education, social protection, employment, healthcare, accommodation and family reunification. Persons with specific needs were found to face obstacles in part due to a lack of systematic identification processes, hindering their inclusion in national systems and services.

In its role as Refugee Coordinator, UNHCR launched the inter-agency 2022 Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for the Ukraine Situation and coordinated its implementation. The RRP brought together the activities of 142 partners across seven countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia). Through the RRP, humanitarian partners have reached millions of refugees with protection and assistance. Over 1.1 million people received support in accessing protection and documentation, while over 360,000 children benefited from child protection services. Almost 1 million refugees received in-kind support and nearly 885,000 people received urgent cash assistance to cover their most urgent basic needs. This process was led in a collaborative and consultative manner with Government authorities, aid agencies, civil society and affected populations, including women- and refugee-led organizations. Specific Working Groups for Protection, Education, Inclusion, Health, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, and Anti-Trafficking, among others, were activated at the regional and country levels to support the efforts of the concerned Governments.

UNHCR also established and coordinated PSEA networks in Hungary, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, bringing together more than 170 entities in national networks co-chaired with national or local NGOs. More than 3,300 humanitarian workers were trained on PSEA and more than 46,000 refugees were reached through awareness-raising activities. UNHCR and its partners conducted 19 PSEA risk assessments and launched five National Action Plans on PSEA in countries neighbouring Ukraine. A regional safeguarding and PSEA network was also established to support regional coherence, learning and exchange.

Overall, UNHCR successfully managed a fast and large-scale operational response to the Ukraine situation in the region, simultaneously expanding its presence inside Ukraine and establishing or boosting its presence in refugee-hosting countries. This included quickly identifying suitable staff for immediate deployment, setting up office structures, shaping the humanitarian coordination architecture, and assessing needs during an emergency of vast proportions while promoting inclusion from the onset. Some innovative processes introduced during the initial stages of the emergency, such as the regional cash hub and the centralization of payments that served to speed up the delivery of protection and assistance, will be continued and replicated in other regions.