UN Volunteers with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have been instrumental in responding to the needs of people displaced by the war in Ukraine.
UN Volunteers with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have been instrumental in responding to the needs of people displaced by the war in Ukraine.

One year on: UN Volunteers epitomize resilience and solidarity in emergency response

At the heart of UNV's work is our people-centred approach, which is enriching for each of us. In the face of war, displacement, natural disasters and destruction, volunteers epitomize resilience and solidarity. The work of UN Volunteers is becoming more important than ever before.

UN Volunteers have played invaluable roles in UN humanitarian assistance from the first days of war in Ukraine and UNV is committed to staying and delivering in support of millions of displaced people.

As an immediate resource used by UN partners, the UNV Online Volunteering service helped agencies such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN Women quickly mobilize online volunteers. These supported digital communication, data collection and analysis, research and reporting, talent acquisition, mental health, translation and more, as needed for the emergency response.

More than 300 online volunteers served with 13 UN entities in 10 countries. They lent their expertise to the Connecting Business Initiative of the Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UNDP, the Gender-Based Violence Sub-Cluster for Ukraine of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNDP’s Accelerator Lab.

Over the past year, UNV has mobilized more than 300 UN Volunteers for key initiatives. 

We are proud of every Volunteer deployed through UNV who has served in the large-scale humanitarian and migration crisis in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

In Romania, UNICEF and UNHCR, in partnership with governments and civil society organizations, have set up 26 ‘Blue Dot’ safe spaces for children and women in bordering countries. Each dot is able to provide relief for 3,000 - 5,000 people per day.  They are also mobilizing to treat the mental and emotional damage caused by this conflict.

Psychosocial support is also a priority for three UN Volunteers serving with UNFPA in Moldova. Operating outside Chisinau, at border Orange spaces, they service adolescents and youth aged 10 to 24 years and women of all ages.  The Volunteers provide protection, psychosocial and recreation support, and facilitate activities aiming at life skills development, building emotional resilience, prevention of gender-based violence, as well as referrals as necessary.  

Six UN Volunteers are serving with the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), which has outposts in Poland and Moldova. Two of these, Wiktorija Wislowska and Anna Trushkina, are based in Poland. They are part of the team that monitors grave violations against children and the evacuation of persons from areas affected by hostilities.

Since refugees from Ukraine have fled to neighbouring countries, UN Volunteers are serving also in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and other affected countries. The UNV team made every effort to deploy highly motivated professionals with experience in humanitarian aid and emergencies, and within days the first were on the ground. These included professionals who had fled Ukraine and are now engaged in the emergency response as Refugee UN Volunteers.

Uprooted by war, the tale of refugees turned volunteers is bittersweet. In the Ukraine context, refugee and community volunteers are leading the response as coordinators, protection officers and translators for refugees like themselves.

UN Volunteers deployed rapidly through the UNV Talent Pool served in the areas of coordination support, administration, ICT, communications, protection, mental health and beyond.

UNV stands ready to support countries in addressing emergencies and challenges. We will continue to support the United Nations in securing rights and delivering services for displaced people.