Ukraine: Population movement (civil unrest)

The revised IFRC emergency appeal for Ukraine is for 19.99 million Swiss francs, of which 31 per cent is currently covered. Through this operation, Ukrainian Red Cross Society to assist 107,000 people.


Since the beginning of civil unrest, Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) has been responding to the needs of the vulnerable people. The deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in south-eastern Ukraine continued to escalate during 2014 and 2015 and has resulted an estimated 2.18 million people being displaced. Although a significant number have fled to other countries including Russia and Belarus, the majority are displaced internally within Ukraine.

Since April 2014, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society has assisted more than 502,400 internally displaced people across all Oblasts (administrative units/regions) of the country. The worsening situation demanded the mobilization of all of URCS’s resources; emergency response teams, trained volunteers and prepositioned emergency supplies.

Insecurity in eastern Ukraine has raised significant challenges for Red Cross Red Crescent operations. More than 6,000 people have been killed and more than 10,740 have been injured since the conflict began in April 2014. At present, the ICRC is operating primarily in eastern Ukraine (Donetsk and Luhansk), and working in cooperation with URCS in government controlled areas in the region.


URCS has been active in responding to the needs of the affected population since the onset of this crisis. The needs of affected people have evolved as the overall situation has evolved. During the winter months, there was been a steady rise in the number of people fleeing the conflict-affected areas of eastern Ukraine. The arrival of a large number of displaced families has created significant challenges and difficulties in the adjoining Oblasts of Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhia in terms of providing shelter and basic necessities.

The overwhelming majority of the IDPs were evacuated as a matter of urgency, which allowed them to take with them only a minimum of personal belongings. The most urgent needs among the IDPs are shelter, medicine and food. The most urgent needs among the IDPs are shelter, medicine and food. With towns, districts and communities in the government-controlled areas of Luhansk and Donetsk Regions, as well as the neighbouring regions already strained of resources to assist and accommodate this new influx of displaced, districts further away from the conflict affected areas are now also seeing an increase in the number of IDPs.

Key challenges

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Cost of living


  • Prices of everyday commodities, including food, have increased dramatically, particularly in recent months. Authorities estimate that the cost of a standard food ‘basket’ have increased by 50 per cent compared to October 2014. Many displaced people are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet


Medical services
  • Only those registered as displaced are able to access medical services
  • Although the majority of displaced people are categorized as pensioners, for those that are of working age, it can be difficult to find work to earn a living wage. This is especially difficult for those with children and other dependents.
  • Some of those displaced have had difficult personal experiences in connection with the crisis. In addition, without an end in sight to this crisis, many are finding it difficult to maintain hope. Children are particularly at risk.
Water, sanitation and hygiene
  • Thousands are without safe drinking water. In addition, hygiene practices in parts Ukraine are not of high standard.
  • Although the proportion of people hosted in collective centres has decreased, there is still a significant proportion of displaced people sharing cramped conditions, either with host families, or in centres. This makes life difficult for everyone over such an extended period of time.

Key facts

  • Ukrainian Red Cross Society provides a variety of assistance measures for IDPs including provision of food, clothes and shoes, hygiene products, detergents, medicine, bed linen, cooking utensils, monetary aid, as well as consultations.
  • Psychosocial support and psychosocial first aid has been a key focus area for URCS. Together with partners including the Danish Red Cross and IFRC, they continue to expand activities in this area.
  • To date, over 318 tons of food items have been collected and distributed to those in need.
  • In advance the previous cold weather, winterization items were provided to IDPs. If the current situation continues, similar measures will need to be taken in the next few months.
  • First aid and emergency medical response teams have been strengthened, both in terms of skills through training, and in updated equipment.
  • Restoring family links activities have been carried out, in collaboration with the ICRC.
  • In cooperation with WHO, seven mobile medical have been providing medical assistance to IDPs in rural areas. It is expected that this number will soon increase to 12 teams.
  • Ukrainian Red Cross Society emergency teams working in eastern regions, especially those other parts of Ukraine, can have difficulty in getting safe access to some areas so they are coordinating very closely with the ICRC.
  • Ukrainian Red Cross Society is also strengthening its capacity to provide psychosocial support. This initiative is a follow-up to previous ICRC-supported efforts, now supported jointly by the IFRC and Danish Red Cross.

Media contacts

In Budapest

Stephen Ryan
IFRC Europe
Mob: +36 70 430 6500 
Twitter: @stiofanoriain

In Geneva

Benoit Carpentier
Mob: +41 79 213 24 13 


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