On 24 February 2022, Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to invade Ukraine. While conflict of some form was predicted in the weeks leading up to the invasion, few foresaw the speed and extent to which the Russian army would attack, and the days since have seen mounting destruction and loss of life, with more than 640 people, including around 200 civilians, killed to date and more than 1,000 wounded. It is also estimated that as many as 4,300 Russian soldiers have died.
While events are rapidly unfolding, experts warn that conflict could be long-lasting, forcing many Ukrainians to make the difficult choice to leave their homes and flee to neighbouring countries, such as Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The United Nations estimates that more than 360,000 Ukrainians have left the country so far, with predictions this could rise to 4.5 million should the war continue.
So far, more than $130 million dollars has been promised by the UN and individual countries, including the US and the UK, to support Ukrainian refugees, while the EU has approved a €1.2 billion package of emergency loans and grants to cover both military and humanitarian costs and help foster stability in Ukraine.
As an individual, there is also much you can do to help support people affected by the conflict. Among the most crucial is to consult only trusted sources for information and carefully evaluate the trustworthiness of news shared on social media. Disinformation has been a key tactic of the Russian government in justifying its invasion of Ukraine and its spread can inadvertently cause more harm to civilians. Britons are encouraged to support English-language news outlets based in Ukraine, such as the Kyiv Independent or New Voice of Ukraine.
There are also a number of international charities and organisations working on the ground in Ukraine and its surrounding countries that urgently need support. Below you will find information and links to those accepting online donations.
British Red Cross
The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal to help fund the on-the-ground work of its sister organisations, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Money will be used to provide shelter, food, first aid and warm clothes to those escaping the war.
UNICEF has been working in Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and is especially concerned with ensuring the health and wellbeing of children who have been separated from their families. It also works to ensure families have access to clean water and nutritious food and that child health and protection services are maintained wherever possible.
Ukrainian non-profit Vostok SOS’s wide-ranging activities include helping people evacuate from areas of danger, as well as providing medical attention and psychological support in the aftermath of war. Donations can be made via IBAN transfer or via credit/debit card on the website of partner charity Libereco.
Voices of Children
This Ukraine-based charity was founded in response to the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine and offers psychological and social support to children who have witnessed or been affected by war. As well as one-to-one sessions with mobile psychologists, Voices of Children also helps families coping with the struggles of conflict and offers programmes such as art therapy.
Save The Children
Save The Children has launched an emergency fund dedicated to helping children and families fleeing Ukraine. Donations will be used to immediately distribute supplies, such as food, water and hygiene kits, provide cash grants to help families meet basic needs in the coming months and, long term, ensure access to quality education and psychological support.
Come Back Alive
This Kyiv-based charity has been providing supplies, equipment and software to the Ukrainian military in support of its defence against Russia since 2014. Donations can be made in a variety of ways, including via international bank transfer, to a Bitcoin wallet and on Patreon.
Doctors Without Borders
International medical charity Doctors Without Borders was already operating in Ukraine when the invasion took place and has quickly adapted its activities to the current crisis. It has temporarily halted its HIV and tuberculosis care centres and is focusing on mobilising emergency preparedness teams, both in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries, to respond to a variety of medical crises. Its supply centres are also working to distribute medical kits in the area.