On the eve of the EU-Ukraine summit, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls on European leaders to renew their commitments to stand by the people affected by the war in Ukraine. Ukrainians need sustained support to not only make it through the cold winter months, but to also rebuild their lives and gain control of their futures. Bolstering humanitarian assistance inside the country must be matched with greater efforts to protect refugees hosted across Europe.

Marysia Zapasnik, IRC’s Country Director in Ukraine, said:

“I recently visited Kherson, a heavily shelled city, whose inhabitants have been living without heat and electricity for months, battling to stay warm while spending the nights in bedrooms with shattered windows. People around the country are living in constant fear, as they struggle to keep their families safe.

“What people urgently need right now is safety and warmth. As cold winter temperatures continue, new funding for humanitarian work to support Ukrainians to make it through this winter season should be prioritised. Reconstruction of homes, critical health, and education infrastructure is also key to help Ukraine contend with worsening humanitarian needs and look toward the future.

“One year on, the war in Ukraine shows no sign of abating, compounding the needs of people trapped amidst renewed waves of violence. Robust international support has allowed us to deliver critical assistance to people in need, but that will only remain true as long as the EU and other donors continue to adequately support the humanitarian response in Ukraine.”

Harlem Désir, IRC’s Senior Vice President, Europe, said:

“At tomorrow’s summit, the EU must send a strong signal of support to the people of Ukraine. As the war continues to ravage civilian infrastructures and devastate lives, this support must include scaling up humanitarian funding, and making sure this directly reaches the NGOs, local civil society groups and women-led organisations who are working on the frontline of the Ukraine response. This funding must not come at the expense of other crises across the globe, many of which have spiralled further as a consequence of the war in Ukraine.

“At the same time, EU states must not lose the impressive momentum they have built up on refugee protection for those fleeing Ukraine. The Temporary Protection Directive being extended for another year is a step in the right direction. However, as the war drags on and supporter fatigue begins to set in, it’s worrying to see governments in some EU states begin to roll back support for people from Ukraine, including new rules in Poland requiring some Ukrainian refugees to cover up to 75% of their accommodation costs.

“As the war approaches its second year, we call on EU leaders to double-down on their efforts to protect the 8 million people forced from Ukraine by investing in reception capacity, meeting urgent needs, and providing early integration support so people are empowered to rebuild their futures.”

Notes to editors:


The IRC started responding to the war in Ukraine in February 2022, working directly and with local partners to reach those most in need. In Ukraine, we are focusing our response in the conflict-affected areas in the east and southeast. We are distributing essential non-food items, providing cash assistance to the most vulnerable households, improving access to health care, and providing a variety of tailor-made protection services, including safe spaces for women and children. Our emergency programmes are also active on the ground in Poland and Moldova. Working along the entire arc of the crisis, we are running activities targeting Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia and Bulgaria, as well as in Germany, Italy, Greece and the UK.