Ukraine crisis: What’s happening and how is World Vision responding?

Updated Mar 23, 2023
On February 24, 2022, violent conflict between Russia and Ukraine erupted in eastern Ukraine, causing widespread displacement, death and destruction.

Millions of Canadians have been following the crisis in Ukraine in real time. Since the conflict began, over eight million people have fled the country and over five million have been internally displaced, making this the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II. Ukrainians are fleeing mainly to Poland, others heading to Romania, Moldova, Hungary and other European countries.

World Vision Canada President, Michael Messenger, was in Romania along the Ukrainian border at the very beginning. There, he saw the immense need of the new arrivals.

He also witnessed how World Vision Romania staff are extending help and hope to the refugees. Watch his first-hand account from 2022:

The United Nations estimates that 17.6 million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance.
The bulk of violence has been happening along the eastern Ukraine-Russia border, but there have been a few outbreaks of violence on the west side of Ukraine. The UNHCR has reported over 18,900 civilian casualties. Vital infrastructure such as schools and hospitals has been destroyed in the hardest-hit areas. Hundreds of thousands of people no longer have access to electricity or water, because of damage to civilian infrastructure.

A map of Ukraine shows the regions hardest hit by conflict, with many red sparks dotting the right side of the country.This map from December 2022 shows where humanitarian operations have been working during the Ukraine conflict. The red sparks indicate where violent outbreaks have happened and the black circles with crosses are exit points for displaced people. Map courtesy of OHCA.

The conflict has not ended yet—learn more about how the Ukraine conflict has affected the world.
  1. Who is most affected by the Ukraine conflict?
  2. How has the Ukraine conflict affected the world economy?
  3. What is Canada doing in the Ukraine conflict?
  4. What has World Vision done to help in the Ukraine conflict?
  5. How can I help those affected by the Ukraine conflict?

1. Who is most affected by the Ukraine conflict?

Of the millions of people devastated by the Ukraine conflict, women and children are disproportionately affected. According to the UNHCR, women make up 70 per cent of all internally displaced people in the country and face specific protection risks, particularly with gender-based violence.

Irina and Zoya stand somberly among the ruins of their house, which was destroyed in the Ukraine conflict.Irina, right, and her mother Zoya, stand among the remains of the house where Irina spent her whole life. Not long after their home was destroyed, Irina discovered that she was pregnant with her second child, Daniel. His birth brought much joy into her life, despite all that the family has lost during the war. Photo: Brianna Piazza

Being forced to flee the violence, around two million children were forced out of school and faced massive child protection risks. As a result, the need for psychosocial support skyrocketed during the conflict.

2. How has the Ukraine conflict affected the world economy?

Globally, gas, oil, and food security were severely impacted at the beginning of the Ukraine conflict. Turbulence in Ukraine disrupted world food prices, worsened inflation and diminished purchasing power, leading to cost-of-living increases for people everywhere, from Canada to the Central African Republic.

Disrupting vital wheat imports

At the beginning of conflict, an estimated 13.5 million tons of wheat product and 16 million tons of maize product intended for export were stuck in Ukraine and Russia, according to the World Food Programme.

Ukraine, known as the “breadbasket of Europe”, sends more than 40 per cent of its wheat and corn exports to the Middle East or Africa, with many regions in these countries already struggling with food shortages before the conflict began. The price increases threatened to stoke social unrest and exacerbate an already-dire global hunger crisis affecting over 44 million people.

In July 2022, the UN brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative between Russia and Ukraine, a temporary deal which helped efforts to fight the hunger crisis by allowing Ukraine’s grain product to be safely exported. This deal caused global prices for wheat to drop to pre-conflict levels.

Lily stands in front of a massive pile of soya beans in her barn.Ukrainian farmer Lily stands in a barn full of soya beans harvested in 2021. In 2022, exports out of Ukraine were halted, leaving millions of tons of grain product sitting in barns like Lily’s.

Fuel shortages threaten the poor 

Russia is also a major global supplier of gas and oil while supply pipelines run through Ukraine. Price spikes or supply shortages arising from the crisis have had far-reaching global impact. People in the world’s poorest regions – already struggling with rising prices – have suffered the most from the economic repercussions of the conflict.

When countries and companies experience fuel price increases, they pass on the costs to their consumers. Essentials like clean water, basic food supplies, seeds for the next crop or bus transport to work ended up costing significantly more than they did before.


3. What is Canada doing to help in the Ukraine conflict?

In 2022, the Government of Canada gave $320 million CDN towards humanitarian aid for Ukraine to the United Nations and other non-governmental partners, such as the Humanitarian Coalition.

Two women speak together, with one wearing a World Vision vest and holding a computer tablet.In Chernivtsi, Ukraine, a member of World Vision’s Ukraine Response team interviews a woman who fled the conflict, to assess needs for programming. Photo: Brianna Piazza

The government has also opened new immigration streams for Ukrainians to find refuge in Canada, including an expedited path to permanent residency for Ukrainians who want to reunite with family members already in Canada. As of March 2023, over 600,000 applications for temporary residency from Ukraine have been approved.

4. What has World Vision done to help in the Ukraine conflict?

At the beginning of the conflict, World Vision was quick to the scene to begin supporting children and families fleeing the crisis.

Our staff based in Romania and Moldova have been working consistently to support refugees and internally displaced families, providing support for local partners in Ukraine and welcoming people arriving from Ukraine with food, shelter support, warm blankets, heaters, hygiene kits and cash assistance. Our teams have provided essential items for babies, for children, as well as child-friendly spaces where children can rest, play and talk to counsellors to heal and begin recovering.

Our teams on the ground have gradually shifted away from initially providing emergency relief and are now focused on providing structure for children through mental health and education support.

Lyudmyla smiles at the camera, sitting beside young girls at the table.Lyudmyla Boyko is the director of the Borodyanka Center for Social and Psychological Rehabilitation. With support from World Vision, she leads psychosocial support activities for children. Photo: Brianna Piazza

We’ve also partnered with local organizations to provide families with cash transfers to pay for basic needs, such as winter clothes and shelter.

5. How can I help those affected by the Ukraine conflict?

Pray for peace to be restored quickly and that children and families will be protected from harm.

Give to help provide care and support for children and families who have been forcibly displaced.

Donate now to support families in Ukraine

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