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On 24 February 2022 Russia launched military action in Ukraine, with forces crossing into the country from Belarus in the north, Russia in the east and Crimea in the south. After failing to take the capital, Kyiv, fighting is now focused in south and eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s military actions have forced many Ukrainians to leave the county and resulted in significant damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and public services, creating a substantial level of humanitarian need.

The events of 2022 have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis that has been ongoing in eastern Ukraine since 2014. In that year, Russia annexed the Crimea. Two regions in the Donbas, controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces, also declared independence.

The briefing describes the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the number of displaced people, and what aid the UK and others have pledged in 2022.

For updates on the military situation in Ukraine, sanctions, and other geopolitical aspects to these events, visit the Commons Library’s Ukraine crisis page.

Humanitarian needs

The crisis in eastern Ukraine since 2014 saw the country’s humanitarian needs grow. To January 2021, over 3,000 civilians were killed (PDF) and the UN estimated around 2.9 million people were in need of humanitarian aid (eg, to access food, shelter or health services) (at February 2022).

Between February and July 2022, nearly 4,900 civilian deaths have been reported, and the numbers in need of humanitarian assistance has risen to 15.7 million—over a third of Ukraine’s 44 million population.

The Ukrainian Government has estimated around US$100 billion of damage has also been done to the country’s infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals and schools. The World Bank projects Ukraine will see a reduction in its economy of 45% in 2022, and the proportion of the population with an income below the national poverty line may reach 70% in 2022, up from 18% in 2021.

Many people have been displaced

Around 8.8 million refugees have left Ukraine, and around 6.3 million are displaced within the country.

While Poland has seen the highest number of border crossings from Ukraine (4.5 million), it no longer hosts the highest number of refugees as they have moved to other European countries. Russia hosts the highest number, at 1.5 million and Poland, the second, at 1.2 million. The UK has registered 91,000.

Around 1,000 UK troops are on standby for humanitarian support in the countries immediately adjoining Ukraine, and will be “deployed as and when those countries ask for them.”

The UK has pledged aid and loan guarantees

From 2010 to 2020, the UK provided a total of around £173 million in bilateral aid (that is, aid given for a specific programme or purpose) to Ukraine.

Several tranches of funding have been pledged by the UK since February 2022. Section 4.3 provides a full list, but includes:

The Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP, has criticised the pace at which UK humanitarian aid has been delivered. To 26 May 2022, the UK has disbursed £85 million of the £220 million.

The UK is also willing to guarantee lending to Ukraine from the World Bank. As of July 2022, it said it had guaranteed US$950 million (£720 million) in World Bank lending and was ready to provide a further guarantee of US$525 million (£429 million).

Support from the G7 and international bodies

G7 members include the UK, Germany, and Japan. At the G7 summit in June, members pledged to collectively mobilise US$29.5 billion in budget support for Ukraine (£24 billion), and US$2.8 billion in humanitarian aid (£2.3 billion)

The World Bank has mobilised US$4 billion to provide loans and financing for Ukrainian public sector salaries and pensions. The UK’s £74 million pledge for Ukraine forms part of this. The International Monetary Fund has also approved US$1.4 billion in emergency financing (around £1.1 billion).

Update log

13 July 2022: Added details on UK aid committments, those made by G7 members, and updated information on refugees and humanitarian situation 


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