Solidar Suisse
in Ukraine

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has left devastation, violence and traumatised people in its wake. As a traditional humanitarian organisation, Solidar Suisse is now dedicated to working in the war-torn country. With two local partner organisations, we are helping to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable people in Ukraine.

Since 24 February 2022, Ukraine has been under attack by Russia, resulting in an immense humanitarian crisis. Cities have been bombed, livelihoods destroyed and fighting continues with no end in sight. The conflict has triggered the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis since World War II. More than a quarter of Ukraine’s population has fled their homes: an estimated 5.4 million people are now internally displaced, mostly in western, central and eastern Ukraine, while 8 million have left the country. It must be assumed that the humanitarian emergency will continue for many months and reconstruction will take years.

The scars of war

Witnesses to the war have been left with visible and invisible scars. Psychological and physical violence as well as abuse have increased considerably. Most of those affected are severely traumatised by what they have experienced. 64 per cent of the displaced are women, many of whom have left behind their husbands and other family members. There are reports of many forms of violence against women, with insecurity and risk particularly high for women and girls fleeing – at border crossings, in collective shelters and in bomb shelters. There are reports of violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking. Sexual violence in conflict is not only a serious human rights violation, but can also have significant physical and psychological consequences, such as unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, infertility, as well as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

While most men serve in the armed forces, women and older people now have fewer earning opportunities. As a result, they lack the means to meet their basic needs such as food, clothing, medicine or hygiene items. Conditions are worsening due to electricity, gas and water cuts, and the need for humanitarian aid is increasing. The war has also devastated Ukraine’s economy. Economic losses due to the ongoing military offensive could be in excess of one trillion dollars, with about 64 per cent of the Ukrainian workforce having lost their jobs since the war began.

Safe Space for Women and Girls

Against this backdrop, Solidar Suisse is working with two Ukrainian organisations, Vostok SOS and VIS, to provide humanitarian aid to vulnerable people and internally displaced persons in urban and rural areas of Zakarpattia and Vinnytsia oblasts and Dnipropetrovsk. They are comprehensively supported and empowered through psychosocial counselling. In urban areas, a Safe Space has been set up for women and girls, providing an important opportunity for them to socialise and rebuild their social networks and acquire new professional skills, and ensuring access to safe and targeted GBV services (legal, medical, psychological, psychosocial). In the safe space, they receive information on women’s issues, access to case management services and access to external services such as sexual and reproductive health care is facilitated.

Meeting basic needs

The internally displaced people in the project area came mainly from the attacked eastern and southern parts of the country as well as from the Kyiv regions. They left their homes with only a few belongings, and especially those living in collective shelters and/or remote, rural areas have hardly enough financial resources to meet their basic needs. These needs become even more urgent during the winter months and due to the destruction of basic infrastructure by the Russian attacks. Especially in the remote areas, the displaced face not only extreme hardship but also less support from the government and humanitarian organisations. Therefore, they are supported with cash payments and in-kind goods to meet basic needs. We also distributed heaters and fuel for winterisation throughout the area of operation.


Our partner organisation Vostok SOS has been evacuating people from occupied and re-liberated areas close to active fighting since the beginning of the war. The team has vehicles for evacuation and usually travels from Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk oblasts to occupied villages and towns in Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, as well as to the frontline, depending on the wishes of the people who want to leave their places. These evacuations are very dangerous, as areas with roadblocks and with active shelling have to be crossed. The people who did not leave their homes at the beginning of the war are people who were unable to do so due to physical condition or financial reasons. After evacuation from the most dangerous areas, they are taken to safer places in central or western Ukraine, where they are housed in collective shelters that are at least further away from heavy attacks, better protected and have better access to the services and goods they need. Each beneficiary receives an arrival package with basic food and hygiene items and is entitled to further resettlement support from the project.

Our operational area in Ukraine.

Expertise from local partner organisations

Vostok SOS is a non-governmental organisation that was founded as a voluntary citizens’ initiative and hotline in May 2014 by civilians and human rights activists. At that time, they started to support the victims of military aggression in the east of the country and in Crimea. Vostok SOS also participated in the search for and rehabilitation of victims of abductions, observed and documented human rights violations, and reported on the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The organisation has an extensive network throughout Ukraine. We are active in Transcarpathia and Dnipropetrovsk. Transcarpathia, which lies in the west of Ukraine, borders on the EU states of Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland and has so far been largely spared from the war. It is located on the flight route to Western Europe and thus in the region with the highest number of internally displaced persons. Dnipropetrovsk borders the heavily contested Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya oblasts and is therefore considered one of the first ports of call for people fleeing the fighting on the front line, although Dnipropetrovsk itself has been and still is the target of several attacks. More than 340,000 IDPs are in the oblast, making it one of the largest centres for IDPs.

VIS is committed to fighting discrimination against vulnerable groups, protecting the rights of women and girls, and combating gender-based violence. The organisation was founded in 2010 and has since implemented more than 70 projects. The main focus is on promoting gender equality and supporting women in leadership positions, combating violence against women and domestic violence, supporting civil society organisations, information and education activities in the field of human rights and anti-discrimination. VIS is based in Vinnytsia. Vinnytsia is part of central Ukraine and borders Moldova to the south. The city is on the evacuation route from the war-torn eastern region towards the west and may therefore continue to face many IDPs.

Solidar Suisse in Romania

Our work with two partner organisations in Romania, which focuses on supporting refugees from Ukraine, will continue.

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