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Location icon Ukraine

UNHCR delivering cash assistance in Ukraine Emergency

Oleksandra with her two daughters in their accommodation at a converted university form in Mukachevo, western Ukraine. ©UNHCR/Igor Karpenko

With 3 million refugees fleeing Ukraine and at least 1.85 million more internally displaced, cash assistance will provide much-needed relief for families forced to leave their lives behind.  
 
In Ukraine, many stores are only accepting cash. UNHCR is therefore preparing to roll out its cash assistance program at 6 registration centres to help Internally Displaced People (IDPs) such as Oleksandra buy the basics.  
 
Oleksandra fled with her two young daughters, Milana and Polina, and her mother Natalie when the military offensive broke out near their home in Donetsk.
 
“At five o’clock in the morning, we heard loud sounds of explosions, and we knew that the war had started,” said Oleksandra. “So, we packed and left immediately.”  
 
As the bombs fell, the family piled into the car and Oleksandra’s husband drove them to safety. Then he turned around. He was going back to fight.  
 
“I worry about him very much,” says Oleksandra. 
 
Oleksandra’s family is now staying at a university dorm converted into temporary accommodation for IDPs in Mukachevo, western Ukraine. 
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Milana, 6, fled Kramatorks in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine and is now staying in temporary accommodation with her mother, sister and grandmother. ©UNHCR/Igor Karpenko

“We are very grateful that the University hosts us in this room, [but] I have no idea how long we will stay here,” says Oleksandra.

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Oleksandra collects warm clothing for her two children and her mother at their temporary accommodation in Mukachevo, western Ukraine. ©UNHCR/Igor Karpenko
UNHCR is working with authorities and humanitarian partners to establish reception centres, find long-term accommodation for displaced people, and deliver frontline services such as legal aid, psychosocial support and child protection services.   
 
Cash assistance is a vital part of UNHCR’s emergency response, both in Ukraine and in neighouring countries. 
 
“The payments will tide refugees over, allowing more dignity and independence, until they can work or receive social support,” says UNHCR Spokesperson Nathan Saltmarsh. “It allows refugees to prioritise, while providing a boost to local businesses.” 
 
Up to 250 people come to the dorm in Mukachevo each day. Some spend only a night before continuing on their journey to seek asylum in neighbouring countries, while others, like Oleksandra’s family, stay longer. 
 
Milana, 6, draws pictures of castles and hearts for her father in their dorm room. 
 
“I miss him,” she says. “The war will be over soon. We will go home in four days, and I will see both my grandmas and my granddad.”
 
Tragically, Milana’s dream hasn’t come true. However, basic support, such as cash assistance, is helping vulnerable families while they wait to see what their future holds. 

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