Fleeing conflict in Ukraine

A family from Ukraine passes through the Humanitarian Aid Center for Ukrainian refugees in Przmeyśl, Poland. JB Russell / Panos / Oxfam

Oxfam is working to ensure refugees get the support they need as they seek safety

When Julia left Kharkiv, Ukraine, she took one last look at her home. “You look at your house and think about what to take with you, and then you realize you don’t need anything,” she says.

Julia left with her mother-in-law, her 9-year-old son, and nephews and nieces during a break in the bombardments they had endured for days, sheltering in a bunker. Her husband, like all men between 18 and 60, was forbidden by the government from leaving Ukraine.

“My city has already been destroyed,” she says. “Our area where I lived is completely destroyed.”

Julia and her family had just crossed the border into Poland. From there, she said she planned to join relatives in Georgia. They are among the 3.2 million people who have fled Ukraine and are looking for safety across Europe.

Julia fled her home in Kharkiv, Ukraine, with her family. She tells Oxfam they are traveling to Georgia to stay with relatives. JB Russell / Panos / Oxfam

Julia was speaking to staff from Oxfam who were in Poland assessing the needs of refugees and identifying partners that can provide services for people fleeing Ukraine. Initial plans include providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene items in areas of Romania, Moldova, and Poland where people are waiting to cross the border, sometimes for many hours in cold weather. This work will be designed to help vulnerable people avoid preventable water-borne diseases.

Oxfam is also working out arrangements with organizations that can provide safe travel routes to help women, children, elderly, and people with disabilities find their way to safety. We’re also working to get cash vouchers to families who urgently need assistance to feed their children and keep them safe from the cold.

Advocating for peace and safety

In addition to helping people seeking safety, Oxfam is urging governments to engage in diplomatic efforts to end hostilities to avoid further suffering, displacement, and death.

In our humanitarian work around the world, Oxfam witnesses firsthand how people who are forced to the margins of society are always among the worst affected in conflicts. Women are disproportionately affected by disasters. Typically shouldering most of the load as caregivers, they provide for children, elders, and people with disabilities in settings that may lack adequate food, water, shelter, and security. Displaced women are vulnerable to sexual violence in times of crises.

As the international community scales up efforts to meet people’s most urgent needs—food, clean water, shelter, psychosocial support—we are encouraging assistance for local groups that are best placed to respond to the needs of women and vulnerable people.

Crisis creating global effects

The crisis in Ukraine has affected vulnerable people around the world. The cost of food and fuel is skyrocketing. In Syria, food prices have doubled, and families are struggling to afford bread. More than 21 million people are facing severe hunger in East Africa—a region reeling from devastating droughts, floods, and the impacts of Covid-19.

Thanks to people like you, Oxfam is supporting vulnerable communities around the world—with food, cash assistance, clean water, and more. Your donation could help families to feed their children in the face of spiraling costs. And your support could help us assist people fleeing violence in Ukraine.

You can help Ukrainian refugee families find safety

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