Two years into the Russian invasion of Ukraine

It’s been over two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the attacks on Ukrainian populated areas continue. So far, this war has impacted over 17.6 million people and left 40% of the Ukrainian population in need of humanitarian assistance (WHO, OCHA).


In January of this year alone, more than 641 civilians were killed or injured in Ukraine (OHCHR, OCHA). Extended and ongoing attacks have caused extensive destruction to infrastructure, housing and agriculture and continue to dismantle the livelihoods and wellbeing of millions of people.

Ksenia, a Ukrainian woman working with a youth program that supports internally displaced individuals, explained how:

“After the fight, the armed war will be over (but) we will have mental war [still]…”

The situation poses a daunting reality for women and young people, as education has been disrupted, gender-based violence has increased and the psychological impacts of the war continue to derail the mental wellbeing of millions.

Around 6.5 million Ukrainians are recorded as refugees globally and over 3.7 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, where 80% are women and children (OCHA, UNHCR).

Due to this staggering impact, ActionAid’s priority groups include marginalized groups, single female headed households, LGBTQIA+, conflict-affected children and people living with disabilities.

Yuliya, an education coordinator in Ukraine, expressed the importance of these specific programs, stating:

“The interests of women, young people, and vulnerable groups can be denied by programs…It is not only the physical [buildings] that were destroyed but social contacts that were destroyed…we want to repair these people and not only buildings.”

Thankfully, your generous support of ActionAid has allowed us to provide aid to more than 2 million people that have been affected by the war in Ukraine – supplying protection services, essential relief supplies, housing support, and medical, social, and legal services to those in need. However, as access to necessities such as water, adequate housing, education, and healthcare continues to be obstructed, urgent calls still remain for these support services.

Kirsten Sutherland, the Humanitarian Program Coordinator at ActionAid Spain, expressed the need for these services and her concern for the Ukrainian youth:

“The mental health situation in Ukraine is dire…The only way to ensure that Ukrainians, especially the young, can live in peace and security and can access the support they need to recover is an end to the war.”

These concerns for the health and education of Ukrainian youth increase as the OCHA reports that almost half of all educational institutions were damaged or destroyed in Kharkivska and Khersonska oblast and over 80% in Donetska Oblast. Although ActionAid has been providing youth and education activities in various regions, the continuation of these services is critical as 4 million children remain impacted by school closures.

Valeriia, a Ukrainian woman working with a youth project discusses the difficulties facing Ukrainian youth and the support that is needed to support their mental well-being:

“They do not know how to start adjusting their lives, their activity in the new conditions…We help the young people by giving them practical tools, showing how it is done in theory and giving them the support to go further.”

She also shared her own experiences in Ukraine since the full-scale invasion in 2022, explaining how:

“I also lost my home and was under occupation and lost my family member and I thought I have lost the sense of life. Without the support of [the organisation], it would be very hard for me to come back to normal life with those emotions… Because for me the war lasts more than nine years, unfortunately.”

This focus on the mental health crisis in Ukraine is of vital importance, with 10 million people in Ukraine at risk of suffering mental health conditions (OCHA). Hence, ActionAid and its partners are supporting empowerment programs that focus on aiding women and youth, to provide them with tools to cope with trauma, take the lead in the humanitarian response and promote future recovery processes.

2 years on, the crisis in Ukraine continues to call for urgent support and assistance from the international community to not only provide humanitarian aid but to promote an end to this war, in order to begin the long process of recovery.

If you’d like to support our Ukraine emergency appeal, you can do so here.