Afghan woman Zahra*, 34, looks at the camera while holding her baby daughter, a snowy landscape in the background.
© UNHCR/Julian Busch

Winter Emergency

Donate now to help families in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria find safety and warmth this winter.

Time is running out to reach vulnerable refugees before the cold sets in and snows begin to fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

After suffering violence and tragedy, refugees are now bracing for freezing conditions.

Ukrainians are facing their second winter at war. Their homes have been destroyed or damaged, and they may soon be cut off from heat, light and water.

In Afghanistan, temperatures can fall below minus 25 degrees Celsius. Many families are heavily in debt and can't afford winter essentials such as clothing and fuel. Some are burning rubbish or manure to stay warm. 

Meanwhile, Syrians have endured crisis after crisis. After more than a decade at war, they don’t know how they will survive yet another gruelling winter in a leaky tent.

UNHCR is providing shelter, cash assistance, and life-saving essentials such as thermal blankets and heating appliances. But we urgently need your help to reach more families in need.

Please donate now to save lives and give much-needed hope through the coldest, darkest months of the year.

“When winter arrived, it was especially hard. There was no heating or electricity in my city. It is impossible to live in such conditions with a small child.”

Olha, 27, left for Poland with her young son after winter became too difficult to bear in Ukraine. 

Poland. Ukrainian refugee Olha and her son
© UNHCR / Anna Liminowicz

Olha’s Story

Last winter, Olha fled her home in Dnipro, Ukraine, with her then eight-month-old son Mykhailo and travelled to neighbouring Poland. She’d given birth shortly after the war began and had initially been determined to remain behind in Ukraine with her husband. 

“Life was getting harder and harder to bear,” Olha says. “When winter arrived, it was especially hard. There was no heating or electricity in my city. The elevator was not working and I lived on the sixth floor. It is impossible to live in such conditions with a small child.” 

In Ukraine, many families are living in damaged homes or in buildings with disrupted energy, heating and water services – ill-suited to protect them from the biting cold. 


With your support, UNHCR can provide families with winter essentials such as warm clothing, thermal blankets and gas cylinders. Your donation can also provide cash assistance, helping the most vulnerable refugees purchase essentials such as food, medicine and heating.

Donate to our Winter Survival fund now.

Shelter repairs

Your gift can help UNHCR's shelter teams rehabilitate and weatherproof damaged homes in Ukraine before the snows come. 

Winter survival kits

Your gift can provide Syrian families with winter essentials like thermal blankets, mattresses, tarpaulins and gas cookers.

Cash assistance

Your gift can provide Afghan families with cash assistance so they can afford food, gas for heating, medicine and other winter essentials.

Our fundraising commitment

The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.

Humanitarian programs