Moldovan - Ukrainian border | © Helvetas/Nenad Celarevic

War in Ukraine

Helvetas is working with partners to provide basic necessities and shelter for people fleeing the war. 
© Helvetas/Nenad Celarevic

The war in Ukraine is catastrophic for the Ukrainian people, and also directly impacts people in neighboring countries. According to United Nations estimates, nearly 6.2 million people have already been displaced abroad (5/15/2022), and more than 7 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine.

This is a humanitarian catastrophe. Many refugees have had to leave everything behind, including their loved ones. They need safe shelter, food, hygiene products and the ability to communicate, as well as access to education and work in the medium term.

Helvetas helps refugees in Ukraine and in the southern neighboring country of Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, with what they need most at the moment. We also support local families who take in refugees and restaurants that offer meals to displaced people.

Helvetas supports refugees arriving in neighboring Moldova

The small country of Moldova has taken in the most refugees in proportion to its population. It is expected that the number of arrivals in Moldova will continue to increase due to the Russian military advance.

Over 460,000 (as of 5/15/2022) people have already fled across the Moldova-Ukraine border since the outbreak of the war. There is a shortage of almost everything. 

  • Together with our French partner organization ACTED, we provide buses with drivers to transport refugees – especially women and children – from border posts to the capital Chisinau or to one of the reception centers.
  • We provide essentials to particularly needy and vulnerable people (the elderly, people with disabilities and women with small children) in rest areas – thanks to the support of Swiss Solidarity.
  • People fleeing the war receive SIM cards and Internet access so that they can communicate with their relatives or organize their onward journey. With Internet access, children can also take part in the virtual lessons offered by some Ukrainian schools.
  • The pressure on the local population and the authorities is heavy – partly because the economy had already suffered before the war as a result of the pandemic. Most of the refugees from Ukraine are accommodated in private homes. Due to rising prices, the situation for host families who have taken in refugees is increasingly precarious. Helvetas, with support from Swiss Solidarity, provides financial assistance to families hosting refugees in Moldova, who themselves live on a low income or are particularly vulnerable (for example, households headed by women or those with physically and/or mentally impaired members).
  • Helvetas is one of the few international organizations that have been present in Moldova for an extended period of time. We intend to move from acute emergency aid to medium-term stabilization measures as quickly as possible. Among other things, we plan to help integrate particularly vulnerable refugees into the local labor market.

Aid in Ukraine

Helvetas is also helping in Ukraine itself with the support of Swiss Solidarity and Alliance 2015 – a network of European NGOs. We have already been able to provide thousands of internally displaced persons in wester, central and eastern Ukrain with hot meals, mattresses, hygiene items and electric stoves, as well as with cash credits and vouchers that empower people to buy the essentials themselves.

Local restaurants, canteens and self-help groups also receive financial support to provide free or low-cost meals to refugees. In this way, we can also support the local economy.