From the Field

Ukraine crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

More than a year into the conflict, the war in Ukraine continues to escalate, resulting in intensified hostilities that have devastated Ukrainian communities across the eastern and southern regions. The war has given rise to Europe’s largest displacement crisis since World War II, causing over 6 million refugees to seek safety in other countries. Most of them are women and children.

For those who have remained in Ukraine, an already dire situation has grown worse. The recent destruction of the dam at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station in southern Ukraine has caused nothing short of a humanitarian and ecological disaster. Homes have been destroyed by flooding, crops are in danger of being washed away, and the irrigation systems that the region’s agriculture depends on are now without a source of water. Additionally, the dam’s collapse has posed imminent safety hazards to families in the nearby region, including the risk of waterborne diseases from contaminated floodwaters and danger from landmines and other explosives washed into the area.

Ukraine crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the war in Ukraine and learn how to help children and their families.

Fast facts: War in Ukraine and the Ukrainian refugee crisis

  • Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe (just after Russia) with a landmass slightly smaller than the state of Texas and a population of about 43 million.
  • Due to conflict that began in eastern Ukraine in 2014, nearly 3 million people already needed humanitarian aid before the escalation of hostilities on February 24, 2022.
  • The war in Ukraine, now ongoing for over a year, has triggered the largest displacement crisis in Europe since World War II. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the number of refugees has surpassed 8.2 million as of late May.
  • According to the United Nations, about 18 million people — nearly half of Ukraine’s population — need humanitarian aid and protection as a result of the war.
  • The war has sparked economic shocks and disruptions with global ramifications, impacting people in poverty and contributing to an escalating global hunger crisis. 
  • The destruction of the Kakhovka dam in the Kherson region on June 6, 2023, has led to a massive humanitarian and ecological emergency, which has so far impacted at least 16,000 people. The dam’s collapse has caused the Dnipro river to flood, contaminated the water, flooded homes, dislodged explosive devices, and damaged industrial facilities.


A Ukrainian mother sits with her young son as she holds her baby daughter.
Krystyna, a Ukrainian lawyer who fled the war from Kherson, sits with her children, 4-month-old Eleonor and 6-year-old Matvi, inside Romexpo, a convention center hosting Ukrainian refugees like her in Bucharest, Romania. Krystyna says she is grateful to World Vision and its partners for supporting her family with essentials, including warm clothes for the winter, food, and “absolutely everything.” Now, she volunteers to help other mothers get support. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Christopher Lete)

What is the current status of the war in Ukraine?

Millions of Ukrainians have endured more than a year of intense hostilities, triggering widespread forced displacement within the war-torn country and across the region. Humanitarian needs continue to rise sharply.

Air strikes and bombings continue in Ukraine, where people are living in damaged homes or buildings with no electricity, running water, or proper heating. Many citizens live daily without access to food, water, healthcare, education, protection, and other essential services.

The recent destruction of the Kakhovka dam has worsened the situation, leading to widespread flooding and forcing people to leave their homes. The short- and long-term consequences of this disaster are likely to further jeopardize the health and well-being of people in Ukraine.


How many people are affected by the war in Ukraine?

According to the U.N., some 18 million people need humanitarian aid and protection. In addition to the more than 6 million refugees outside Ukraine, an estimated 5.9 people have been displaced within the besieged nation.


A young child with blond hair and light blue pajamas looks directly at the camera as his mother, whose arms are around him, looks in the other direction.
One-year-old David rests in his mother’s arms after receiving care in a hospital in Ukraine to which World Vision delivered food and medical supplies on March 6, 2022. David’s 31-year-old mother, Olga, said the family fled their hometown in the Kyiv region seeking safety from the escalating conflict. “We’ve been staying in the country for several days,” Olga says. “After the second bombing, we decided to leave. We were hiding in the underground shelters.” Olga said she turned to the hospital after David developed a temperature and seemed unwell. David’s health was improving, and his family also found support and shelter at the medical facility. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Brianna Piazza)

Where are Ukrainian refugees going?

Refugees have fled across Europe, including Poland, which has received more Ukrainian refugees than any other European nation, with more than 1.5 million refugees recorded there as of January 31, 2023. Refugees also have crossed into the Czech Republic, Moldova, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary, where governments and local communities have widely welcomed them. However, experts warn that as the conflict drags on, host community resources are being stretched — requiring support for local services that benefit both host community members and refugees.


How many Ukrainians have gone back?

Despite the continuing violence in Ukraine, many refugees are returning to their home communities. More than 5 million people have returned to Ukraine as of January 2023, according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM). It’s unclear how many of those have returned to check on family or property or opted to remain in country.


What are the impacts of the crisis in Ukraine?

With over 6 million fleeing Ukraine as of early July, this has become one of the largest and fastest displacement crises in the world today, according to the UNHCR. It is also one of the bloodiest conflicts in Europe since World War II.

The war has devastated the lives of Ukrainian children and families and has created economic disruptions impacting child poverty far beyond Eastern Europe. It continues to threaten regional stability and has sharply raised humanitarian needs.

U.N. agencies have observed a dramatic increase in global hunger, which was already on the rise, as conflict has complicated the delivery of critical food exports from Ukraine.


How has the war in Ukraine affected the global hunger crisis?

Even before the war in Ukraine, global hunger was on the rise. The conflict has dramatically increased the costs of wheat and other grains, fuel, and fertilizer, supercharging the global hunger crisis and contributing to widespread hunger. Food shortages and prices are causing hardships in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East.

Considered the “breadbasket of Europe,” Ukraine and the Russian Federation provided 30% ­of the world’s cereal grains and two-thirds of the world’s sunflower oil. The crisis in Ukraine has exposed 1.7 billion people — 1 in 5 of the world’s population — to greater risk of hunger through soaring food prices, rising energy costs, tightening financial conditions, or all three, according to the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP).


A Ukrainian mother lifts the hood of a new jacket over her son’s head as he zips up the winter coat
In Chernivtsi, Ukraine, Lyudmyla, a mother of five, helps her son with a new winter coat. The family can stay warm this winter because of a World Vision–supported cash assistance program that helps families pay for coats, shoes, and necessities. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Oleksandra Shapkina)

What’s World Vision doing to help families impacted by the war in Ukraine?

Since the onset of the conflict, World Vision has been actively supporting the most vulnerable people with life-saving aid, shelter, child protection, and other essentials, bringing our global expertise in partnering to respond to the Ukraine crisis.

Partnerships and scaling support: World Vision works closely with United Nations agencies — including the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF — as well as national organizations and local churches in Ukraine and Romania to strengthen the community’s ability to support refugees and displaced people. We’re actively scaling our response through partner networks to reach more people in conflict-affected areas of Ukraine.

Response to the Kakhovka dam breach in Kherson: The devastating dam breach in Kherson on June 6, 2023, caused a humanitarian and ecological disaster, the repercussions of which are still unfolding. The disaster has caused widespread flooding, water contamination, displacement of explosive devices, and damage to industrial facilities in the beleaguered Kherson region. While evacuations are ongoing, the immediate needs of the affected communities include access to clean water, sanitation, food, healthcare, and hygiene products. Collaborating with our partners, World Vision is mobilizing to deliver aid, including essential food supplies and hygiene kits, to flood-affected communities.

“My heart is heavy with the recent news of [Nova Kakhovka] dam’s destruction and flooding, said Chris Palusky, World Vision’s director for the Ukraine Crisis Response. “The impact on children’s lives and futures is heartbreaking. This needs to stop; lives must be saved.”

Long-term support and Child-Friendly Spaces: Beyond our emergency response, we’re prioritizing long-term assistance for children and families through psychosocial support and educational programs for children and families. This includes Child-Friendly Spaces, safe environments where children can play, learn, and connect with other children facing similar situations.

“We’re supporting local and national organizations, including faith-based organizations, in Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania, with the knowledge and expertise so that they can build and strengthen aid efforts, from emergency food-aid distribution, winterization efforts, education in emergencies, psychosocial support, to cash-based programming, and more,” says Jacobus Koen, partnership manager for World Vision’s Ukraine response in Chernivtsi, Ukraine.


Team sets up tables in front of a trailer that says "free connectivity" and has logos for World Vision, N50, and ComputerAid
Staff from World Vision, Computer Aid, and Geeks Without Frontiers set up a mobile CommsHub at Romexpo in Bucharest, Romania. The mobile hub helps refugees connect to the internet to gather information and services, plan their onward journeys, and communicate with loved ones who are still in Ukraine. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Brianna Piazza)

How many people has World Vision helped since the start of the war in Ukraine?

We’ve been responding since the first week of the crisis. Our cash assistance program, run by World Vision partners, continues to support people in Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, and Georgia.

As of March 31, 2023, our staff have provided essentials for over 1 million people across the region. Here are some highlights:

    • 414,863 people have received emergency food assistance
    • 55,029 people have received temporary shelter assistance
    • 134,801 people have been reached with hygiene kits
    • 53,976 people have benefited from mental health and psychosocial activities
    • 27,873 children have been supported with child protection programs

In Ukraine, World Vision is working with a dozen trusted partners in 24 municipalities and has supported 685,949 people with life-saving essentials like food, temporary shelter, hygiene kits, child protection services, and educational programs.

In Romania, where we’ve had a presence for more than three decades, our local staff began responding at the very outset of the crisis, working to make refugee processing areas more child-friendly, facilitate transportation for refugees, establish temporary shelters, and facilitate medical support for children. As of March 31, 2023, we’ve provided 213,857 people with support including food, shelter, protection resources, and education and hygiene kits.

In Moldova, World Vision is working in partnership with WFP to support Moldovan families hosting refugees in 17 districts and is also supporting the improvement of sanitation conditions at a shelter near the border. Some 160,471 people have been reached through our programming.

In Georgia, we’ve helped support 13,957 people with education and child protection and programming that includes distribution of vouchers to cover food, hygiene, clothing, and pharmacy costs.

World Vision’s years of work in Eastern Europe have positioned us well to support those affected by this crisis. In 2021, we assisted 3.2 million people across the Middle East and Eastern Europe through emergency response programs.


A young boy in a tan sweatsuit and a woman with long brown hair play with toys.
Yullia and her son, 3-year-old Marat, play at World Vision’s Child-Friendly Space at Romexpo. For more than 30 years, World Vision has been active in Romania and currently supports refugees from Ukraine as well as host communities and institutions with 19 partners in 10 municipalities. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Christopher Lete)

How are children being impacted by the conflict in Ukraine?

An estimated 7.1 million children, including more than 1.2 million children displaced within Ukraine, will need humanitarian aid in 2023, according to UNICEF.

Ukraine’s children have been put at grave risk. The conflict has forced them into situations of extreme vulnerability and has led to mental and emotional stress, the loss of loved ones, interruption in education, and the destruction of homes and family livelihoods.

Children continue to be killed, injured, and deeply affected by the violence. At least 438 children’s deaths have been documented between February 24, 2022, and January 23, 2023, along with injuries to an additional 838 children, according to OHCHR.

“I woke up hearing the bombs dropped in our small village located near Borodyanka,” said Nina, who with her two sisters endured shelling in northwest Kyiv, one of the first areas to be hit by airstrikes in late February 2022. Bombings forced the local school to shutter. The family, terrified of the fighting, stayed inside their home for one month. “It was a terrible time. During my visit with our next-door neighbors, we were all crying,” added Oksana, Nina’s sister.

World Vision’s programming through a local partner helps support children like Nina and her sisters with ongoing psycho-social care in Borodyanka.


Yeva hugs her brother Artiom during playtime at a World Vision refugee shelter for people fleeing Ukraine
Children like 2-year-old Artiom and his 5-year-old sister, Yeva, are finding safe places to play, thanks to World Vision’s child-safe play area at Romexpo in Bucharest, Romania. (©2022 Laura Reinhardt/World Vision)

What about the effects of war on the education of Ukrainian children?

War in Ukraine has displaced students and teachers, destroyed schools, and dramatically hampered education. As the school year continues, an estimated 5.3 million children face extreme challenges in accessing education, including 3.6 million who have been impacted by school closures.

Since the war began, more than 2,600 schools have been damaged as a result of hostilities and over 400 have been destroyed, according to UNICEF.

World Vision is deeply concerned about children losing access to education. We’re providing informal education and catch-up materials to children in Ukraine and throughout the region. As of March 31, 2023, World Vision has served 206,362 children with educational support in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and Romania.


A young girl with bangs smiles. Colorful paint containers sit open next school supplies and equipment.
In Brasov, Romania, 10-year-old Katya from Ukraine smiles as she attends a World Vision–supported informal education program. World Vision supports learning opportunities for Ukrainian children with formal and non-formal education through diverse online and offline hybrid options. “I feel calm when I attend this class. I’m also interested in learning the Romanian language; that’s why I always try to participate so I can learn the language better,” she says. “Also, so I can talk more with my Romanian friends since I have a lot of Romanian friends. Soon, we are moving to Bucharest and finding another school there.” (©2022 World Vision/photo by Christopher Lete)

What are other concerns for children affected by the Ukraine crisis?

In addition to missing out on school, over 1.5 million children affected by the war in Ukraine are also at risk of long-term mental health problems as a result of being exposed to the horrors of war. According to the U.N., almost every child in Ukraine has been exposed to deeply distressing events. Children fleeing the war are also at significant risk of family separation, violence, abuse, sexual exploitation, and trafficking.


How can I help refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine?

Give to help provide care and support for children and families who have been forcibly displaced and those suffering the broader effects of the ongoing crisis.


How can I be praying for children and families made vulnerable by this crisis?

For World Vision, prayer is a first response. As a Christian organization, we believe that communities of faith have an important role to play in restoring peace and wellness to Ukraine — both in the country and around the world.

Please join us in interceding with God:

  • For peace and stability to be restored and for children and families to be protected from harm.
  • For His protection over children and families as they are uprooted from their homes.
  • For the needs of children and families caught up in conflict and threatened by danger.
  • For World Vision staff to be able to quickly reach the most vulnerable families with the resources they need most.

At the onset of the war, one of our global staff members shared the following beautiful prayer:

Loving God, Creator of all peoples and source of all love,
We are saddened by the unleashing of horror and destruction in Ukraine.
We pray that the very best practices of peace will prevail.
We pray gratefully that Your Spirit of healing and hope is present.
We are committed as Your people, as disciples of Your gospel of reconciliation, to wage peace as we are able in all Your good and lovely creation.
We pray this in the name and healing spirit of Jesus.


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