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Ukraine-Fastest Growing Refugee Crisis in Europe Since WWII


Ukraine-Fastest Growing Refugee Crisis in Europe Since WWII

Hungary. Families from Ukraine seek safety in Hungary
7 June 2022 Also available in:

Since the war in Ukraine escalated in February, nearly 15 million people have been forced to flee their homes and leave everything behind in scenes reminiscent of the world’s most destructive world war. Over 6 million more Ukrainians have crossed the border into neighbouring Poland, Hungary and Romania. Together, they are confronting the shocking new reality of life as refugees.


“I never thought I would have to flee
just to save my life,”

says Ukrainian kindergarten teacher Valentina while cradling her two-month-old nephew Andrii. After a week-long journey travelling with Andrii, her sister and 8-year-old daughter, covering hundreds of kilometres by bus, train and on foot from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Valentina finally arrived on March 5 at the Polish border, where UNHCR is supporting local authorities to provide critical assistance and protection to refugees coming through. The sisters still cannot believe what has happened over such a short time.


Hungary. Families from Ukraine seek safety in Hungary

© UNHCR/Valerio Muscella

“We were suddenly…refugees,” says Irina, Andrii’s mother, reminiscing about the sound of explosions.

“Our men stayed behind while we took our children to safety.”

The hope of returning home one day is grim for people like Valentina; the devastation of urban centres and the destruction of civilian infrastructure have made life unbearable across large swaths of Ukraine as the war rages on.

“But he will rebuild our country one day,” says Valentina as she eyes and hugs her nephew.


“He is our Maybutnye - our future,” she says.

UNHCR’s Emergency Response

The response to the Ukraine refugee exodus has been an affirmation of the principles at the heart of the Global Compact on Refugees characterized by unprecedented solidarity, collective action and clarity of purpose.

At local level, municipalities have made extraordinary efforts to accommodate new arrivals and include them in local services. Grassroots organizations and legions of volunteers have mobilized relief items and welcomed refugees at border crossing points, temporary reception centres and transit hubs.

In Neighbouring Countries

Inside Ukraine

Beyond sending emergency experts and stockpiles
of essential supplies, we’re present at border areas
and reception centres to help identify and provide
care to the most vulnerable refugees, setting up
helplines and information materials.
UNHCR has been sending convoys of core relief
items (blankets, emergency shelters etc.) and setting
up specialist protection services to identify the
internally displaced with special needs, such as
children travelling alone and people with disabilities.
  • 8.3 million in need of assistance
  • 6.36 million refugees
  • 142 operational partners
  • 15.7 million in need of assistance
  • 8 million internally displaced (IDPs)
  • 207 operational partners

Refugees we have assisted so far:

  • 16 new warehouses built for core relief items
  • > 141,182 received cash assistance
  • >75,000 given targeted protection

IDPs we have aided so far:

  • > 422,130 received core relief items
  • > 166,630 received cash assistance
  • > 170,761 given targeted protection

I pledge to stand with Ukrainian refugees and support them in this diffcult time.




The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.