Estonia funding to UNHCR rebuilds shattered homes in Ukraine

In 2017, with funding from the Government of Estonia, UNHCR helped the most vulnerable people forced to leave their homes globally.

Lina, 78 and her husband Prokofiy, 86.

UNHCR received in total more than half a million euros from Estonia in 2017 to operations worldwide, including Ukraine, Syria and Europe.

UNHCR is navigating extraordinarily difficult waters at a time of global mass displacement. The combination of multiple conflicts, challenges to the institution of asylum and a growing funding gap threatens effective international protection efforts. Without reliable Government donors like Estonia, UNHCR would be unable to deliver protection, shelter, water, health, education and other basic essentials to millions people forcibly uprooted from their homes.

“UNHCR is grateful for every single euro received from the Government of Estonia. The unearmarked funding from Estonia which is not linked to a specific crisis, is used flexibly, reaching the people who need it the most. Also a generous donor to the UNHCR Ukraine operation, Estonia is supporting efforts to protect a total of 2.5 million people displaced by the conflict,” says acting Regional Representative for Northern Europe, Wilfried Buchhorn.

Eastern Ukraine: elderly couple benefit from shelter support

In times of conflict, in particular elderly people are at heightened risk of being forgotten. When fighting led to civilian deaths and destroyed hospitals and houses in Donetsk region, east of Ukraine four years ago, most of the young families fled. Less able to make this journey were the region’s older and vulnerable residents, who remained in their damaged homes or moved into collective shelters. Struggling to survive, these vulnerable older people soon exhausted all of their financial resources. To compound their difficulties, pensions and social assistance for over half a million internally displaced people were suspended.

When the home of Lina (78) and Prokofiy (86) was hit by shelling in June 2014, both survived but was forced to leave and move in with relatives. The couple left all their belongings, bringing only their chickens. UNHCR and partners, with the support of donations received from Estonia, have repaired the couple’s home where they have now moved back in with their daughter Vera, chickens and a dog.

“We would have had to save every penny to fix the house, but even then it would not have been enough. We are very happy to have been selected for help.”

– Lina and Prokofiy


Lina, 78 and her husband Prokofiy, 86.

Estonia as a donor to UNHCR

Estonia is a reliable donor to UNHCR and has provided annual donations since 2008. In recent years, Estonia’s funding to UNHCR has increased substantially. In 2015, Estonia increased its unearmarked funding, so it amounted to more than one quarter of its total donations to UNHCR. The country has since maintained this level of unearmarked funding, providing UNHCR crucial flexibility to reach refugees and displaced people in the greatest need and at the greatest risk. In 2017, the Estonian Government donated EUR 300,000 to UNHCR Ukraine operation.

See also recent stories on how UNHCR delivers winterization aid to conflict affected populations in Ukraine:

As Ukraine conflict heads into fourth winter, thousands face freezing conditions

– Winter aid provides lifeline for people in eastern Ukraine