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February 23, 2024

Two Years On, UNHCR’s Humanitarian Assistance Reaches Millions of Ukrainians

“We decided to flee after our neighborhood was heavily bombed. There were raids almost every day. My children were too scared. I hoped we could wait it out and the war would end eventually, but we could not wait any longer,” says Natalia. 

February 24 will officially mark two years since the full-scale war in Ukraine began and millions of Ukrainian families like Natalia and her son Maksym were forced to flee. Since the war began, nearly 6.5 million Ukrainians have sought refuge in neighboring countries or abroad, while 3.7 million people remain displaced within the country.

As war rages on and the future for millions of internally displaced Ukrainians and refugees remains uncertain, UNHCR is on the ground providing much needed humanitarian assistance and protection. In 2023, UNHCR and partners reached more than 2.6 million people in Ukraine and neighboring host countries. 

Learn how UNHCR is meeting some of the most essential needs of displaced people from Ukraine. 

Cash Assistance

Cash assistance remains one of the most optimal and requested forms of support among internally displaced people and refugees. In 2023, UNHCR distributed cash assistance to 899,039 displaced people from Ukraine—amounting to over $223.6 million disbursed to help those in need. 

This winter, cash assistance is helping Yulia Shabalina’s family. Yulia, her mother and children were forced to flee from Kherson, a city in Ukraine on the frontlines that has been occupied since the third day of the war. 

Yulia's family found safety in Moldova and was generously given a house to live in by a local family. While Yulia is paying the utility bills and caring for the house, this winter has proven especially difficult for the family. “The problem is that there are no means to transport the wood here and well, it is also not cheap, firewood is expensive.” 

With a little support from UNHCR, however, cash assistance is helping the family cover the costs of essential items like food, medicine, clothes, accommodation, utilities and winter energy needs.

Although Yulia hopes her family can return to Ukraine someday, she is focused on building her life in Moldova. “We don’t think about the future and tomorrow: for us there is only today.”

Essential Items

Helping Ukrainian families living close to the frontline meet their basic needs remains a priority. In 2023, UNHCR reached 575,273 displaced people from Ukraine with essential items such as tarps, plastic sheeting, blankets, solar lamps and bed linen sets.

UNHCR distributes standard relief items, such as blankets, kitchen sets and solar lamps, and non-standard items, such as dignity kits for women and girls, mattresses and clothes to people in need. These essential items are reaching those who need it most—people living along the frontline, newly displaced individuals and people living in newly accessible areas who have endured months of constant shelling. 


The overarching goal of UNHCR’s emergency response is to protect and empower those forced to flee their homes. UNHCR’s protection programs center on four objectives: 1) ensuring access to social, legal and other protection services; 2) strengthening access to information; 3) strengthening national legal and policy frameworks; and 4) promoting rights-based solutions.

In 2023, UNHCR reached 1,480,928 displaced people from Ukraine with critical protection services, including psychosocial support, legal consultations, and gender-based violence and case management support. 

Iryna Bashkirtseva is an internally displaced person in Ukraine but uses her background in psychology as an outreach facilitator for UNHCR partner INTERSOS. 

‘We have programs several times per week,” she explains. “We also host activities with other family members and women. My role is to identify people’s needs by engaging with them. I then find the appropriate assistance they need.” 

The needs identified by the outreach facilitators vary—from psychological to medical to items such as hygiene kits. Mobile teams are also deployed into communities to assist displaced people who may need medical treatment or support services. 

“Access to information is key,” says Iryna. “I use social media and messaging services to keep people up to date on the services and support that are available.”

Shelter and Housing

UNHCR’s shelter and housing program supports people impacted by the war in three ways: 1) emergency shelter for those with immediate needs in areas directly impacted by shelling and attacks; 2) repairs and housing solutions that can help people return to their homes, where possible and; 3) improvement or creation of accommodation in collective sites for internally displaced people who cannot live at home.

In 2023, UNHCR reached 247,160 people from Ukraine who needed emergency shelter and housing. Lidiia and her family are just one of the many Ukrainian families who received support from UNHCR to rebuild and repair their homes.

Lidiia’s home in Horenka, a village in northern Ukraine, was under massive attack from the very first days of the full-scale invasion. It was occupied for more than a month, resulting in the destruction of a significant part of the village and causing damage to almost 200 private homes and buildings. Lidiia managed to evacuate to the south with her relatives but returned home to find her house badly damaged.

UNHCR fully replaced the roof of her house and assisted in repairing six windows in August 2023. “I am so happy to be able to live in my house, sleep in my bed, eat from my dishes. I am extremely grateful to the whole world for helping Ukraine. What happened is not your fault, but you were here to support us in the most difficult times.”

How to Help

As we approach the second-year mark of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it is more vital than ever for humanitarian funding to be sustained and expanded. Families across Ukraine need your continued support to access cash assistance, protection services, essential items and emergency shelter and housing. Give families in Ukraine hope by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor.