After a year of fighting, there is no end in sight for the war in Ukraine. Millions of civilians are unable to return home. Many still in the country are forced to live without access to food, water or electricity.

This is not an isolated crisis—the ripple effects of the war can be felt across the globe. Blockades of Ukrainian grain exports have worsened hunger in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions. Even as international efforts have helped to resume these shipments, the situation remains dire. In East Africa, for instance, a perfect storm of continued drought, the blockade, and the economic fallout from the war is causing mass starvation. Without urgent international funding, the lives of millions of people are at stake.

Get the facts on how the war in Ukraine is continuing to impact both people within its borders and people around the globe.

What is life like inside Ukraine?

The continued conflict in Ukraine is causing extreme civilian harm and leaving millions without access to food, water and other essential supplies. Innocent civilians have been cruelly caught up in the conflict, with almost 19,000 casualties since February 24th 2022. More than 8,000 people have been killed, with the actual number likely much higher. Over 5.4 million have been internally displaced.

There has been catastrophic damage to civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools. In the recent winter months, families have sought shelter in damaged buildings not suited to deal with sudden drops of temperature or heavy snowfall.

Starting in October 2022, waves of airstrikes left even more people across the country to face the cold without access to gas, electricity or centralized heating systems. In just one day in mid-November, over 7 million people were left without electricity due to the fighting.

Attacks on infrastructure

Missile strikes have damaged between 30-50% of Ukraine’s power grid, and the overall damage to energy infrastructure in Ukraine is estimated to add up to at least US $113.5 billion. The destruction of water sources in particular has left as many as 16 million people without access to clean water or sanitation, and at increased risk of water-borne illnesses.

Continued violence across Ukraine is pushing the country further into humanitarian catastrophe as hospitals run out of medical supplies and families lose access to food and other essentials.

Olga stands at the entrance to her outdoor cellar.
Olga in her pickle cellar in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. When the fighting got to her neighborhood, Olga and her neighbors spent entire days and nights in the small cellar, using it as a bomb shelter. Sometimes the only food they had to eat was her pickled vegetables. Olga was supported by the IRC's cash transfer program.
Photo: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi for the IRC

What is life like for those displaced by the war in Ukraine?

The war in Ukraine has triggered the fastest forced mass flight of the century in Europe. The majority of those displaced are women and children, who are always most at risk of exploitation and abuse during crises.

How many Ukrainian refugees are there?

As of November 2022, there are over 8 million refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe.

Where have most Ukrainian refugees found protection?

Ukrainian refugees are predominantly finding safety in neighboring countries. Poland has granted protection to over 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees while other nearby countries Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova have each given safety to tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Czechia is currently the country hosting the most refugees per capita in Europe, having granted protection to almost half a million people.

Two sisters stand together in a parklng lot. Each sister has her own two kids with her.
Marta* and Oksana* are two sisters from Ukraine. When the war escalated they fled together with their children and one small bag to Poland. The sisters are grateful for the assistance provided by volunteers who are welcoming refugees.
Photo: Andrew Oberstadt for the IRC

What is life like for Ukrainian women and children fleeing the conflict?

In crisis settings, existing gender inequality is exacerbated while instances of gender based violence increase. Women and girls with extremely stretched resources and disrupted support networks are vulnerable to traffickers ready to exploit the crisis. 

Women forced to flee their homes also often struggle to access critical reproductive health care and pre and post-natal care, which are typically limited in crisis situations.

Children forced to flee Ukraine have had their lives uprooted, education interrupted and are in some cases have even been separated from their families.

One mother’s story about fleeing Ukraine with her children

How can I help Ukraine?

Donate now: Your gift will help us continue to provide lifesaving support services to families whose lives are shattered by conflict and crises around the world.

A mom stands with her young daughter and a dog beside them.
Maria waits for transportation with her daughter, Daryna, and their dog, Tyson. “It was time to leave. I was also concerned about my child. I wanted her to stay alive, that no bombs would fall on us," said Maria.
Photo: Andrew Oberstadt for IRC

How does the war in Ukraine affect the rest of the world?

The war in Ukraine has an obvious impact on those within the country. Outside of Ukraine, the war also continues to have a major effect on the global markets and food supply. The impact of the armed conflict on grain exports has worsened a global hunger crisis, with catastrophic impacts throughout the world.

Why is Ukraine grain so important?

Ukraine is historically a large exporter of grain. In 2021, Ukrainian grain fed 400 million people around the world. For the first 5 months of the war, Ukraine was unable to export its grain through its primary shipping routes through the Black Sea.

Countries reliant on this grain suffered as a consequence. Several grain-receiving countries across the Middle East and Africa were already experiencing hunger crises due to conflict and climate change. The war in Ukraine made these hunger crises worse.

What countries are impacted by the war in Ukraine?

The global repercussions of the war have had catastrophic impacts on countries already facing conflict and crises.

East Africa is facing a looming famine, as the region has faced a severe drought alongside the disruption in food supply caused by the war in Ukraine. Across the region, 21.7 million people don’t have access to sufficient food, and 1.5 million children are at a risk of life-threatening malnutrition.

An IRC doctor treats a one year old girl who sits on her mother's lap.
Dr. Sila, an IRC health manager, screens 1 year old Vanessa for signs of malnutrition at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The war in Ukraine has contributed to increasing rates of malnutrition in Kenya by limiting food supplies.
Photo: Patrick Meinhardt for the IRC

Somalia has been facing its worst drought in 40 years and is about to enter its sixth failed rainy season. This, combined with the impact of decades of conflict, has made the country dangerously reliant on imported grains—specifically from Ukraine and Russia. By mid-2023, over 8 million people—nearly half of the population—will be living through crisis levels of food insecurity as the country faces an impending famine.

In the Middle East, the war in Ukraine has sent prices of wheat and fuel spiraling. Syrian refugees are among the hardest hit, as many do not have the incomes to cover the dramatically increased cost of living. Recently, the country has also been devastated by a powerful 7.8 earthquake.

A mother and her two children sit around a plate of herbs, working with them in some capacity.
Swasan* is the main breadwinner of her family, displaced from their home in Aleppo, Syria. Rising food prices have made it harder for Swasan to provide enough food for her family.
Photo: Abdullah Hammam

In Central America, prices for staple foods like white maize are well above the five-year average. Together with climate change and ongoing insecurity, nearly 13 million people across the region face growing hunger.

What is the Ukraine grain deal?

Back in July, the UN-brokered grain deal paved the way for Ukraine to resume its exportsa crucial step in providing relief to a growing global hunger crisis. However, the grain deal is set to expire in March. If a full blockade is reinstated, 80 percent of grain imported from the region to the African continent could be halted.

 “The international community must ensure regular and predictable food shipments urgently reach those on the brink of starvation and that Ukraine’s farmers are able to safely grow and transport crops to the ports,” said Marysia Zapasnik, the IRC’s Ukraine country director.

What needs to happen now?

Ending violence against civilians is one of the most important steps to help Ukrainians rebuild their lives. World leaders must ensure that international humanitarian law is upheld and that humanitarian actors are protected and maintain access to help those in need.

Ukrainian refugees gather in a tent at the Medyka border crossing point in Poland.
Ukrainian refugees gather at the Medyka border crossing point in Poland.
Photo: Francesco Pistilli for IRC

The world must also continue to support both the people who fled Ukraine and the millions of refugees and displaced people worldwide. While there has rightly been an outpouring of global support for people fleeing Ukraine, equal empathy must be shown for refugees and displaced people in many other crises around the world including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Syria.

To address the hunger crises hitting East Africa and other regions, donors should urgently channel funding to front line responders who can reach those most in need and deliver the health programming, food and cash assistance, and clean water that people need to survive.

What is the IRC doing to help?

The IRC is continuing to scale up its response efforts in Ukraine, Poland, and Moldova to meet the evolving needs of displaced families. This includes:

We are assisting Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia and Bulgaria, as well as in Germany, Italy, Greece and the UKWe are also supporting resettled families in the US.

Learn more about the IRC's emergency response in Ukraine and Poland.

*Name changed for privacy.