Children and families forced to return to war-torn hometowns in Ukraine, World Vision warns

  • Economic pressures, Europe’s summer tourist season, and cuts to refugee assistance drive new phase of displacement – with some being forced to return to Ukraine despite the dangers.
  • Half of displaced people in Ukraine are unsure if they will stay where they are currently living, World Vision figures show.
  • Children and families are facing greater insecurity and threatening environments.

July 29, 2022  – The humanitarian crisis for Ukrainians is far from over, with a new wave of people now on the move in another desperate search for safety and shelter.

World Vision is warning that scores of people who have already fled their homes are being displaced again, as refugee assistance is scaled back in some countries, uncertainty looms over temporary accommodation and savings dry up.

World Vision CEO Daniel Wordsworth said he was concerned some people were taking risks and returning to their homes in dangerous parts of Ukraine, while others were moving into places like hospitals, as they had nowhere else to go.

“The refugee situation in Ukraine is unlike any other. It is not a ‘static crisis’ like others around the world, where people generally relocate to large camps or are unable to return to their home country for years,” Daniel said.

“We are seeing significant movement and are now bracing for a large new wave of displacement due to a range of pressures. This means children are being uprooted yet again, interrupting their lives and moving them away from the new support structures that have developed around them.

“While there has been overwhelming outpouring of support for people from Ukraine, we are now six months into this war and people are being faced with rising pressures and instability. Some short-term housing options, such as free accommodation in seaside resorts or with host families, are no longer tenable. Inside Ukraine there are 6.3 million displaced people, which has caused a huge housing crisis and inflated rental prices. What is emerging is a crisis upon a crisis – and it’s only just the beginning.”

The summer tourist season has meant refugees are having to move on from free accommodation at seaside towns in Romania and Bulgaria, with anecdotal reports many are moving to other towns, host countries or even back to Ukraine.

“People are also running out of money to pay for accommodation,” Daniel said.
“They are on the move again in search of affordable shelter – or going back home despite the dangers. In Moldova, our people are being told some refugees have returned to Ukraine only to discover conditions there are worse, leading them to return to Moldova.

“Thousands of people are also sheltering in university dorms and schools and are facing uncertainty with students due to return to the classroom from September 1.

“All these factors create an even more complex and threatening environment for children, their families and other refugees. Children will bear the impact over the long-term which is why we need to keep responding to this crisis. We can’t do that without the ongoing support of the international community.”

For those returning to their hometowns in Ukraine, a survey released earlier this month highlighted that depleted finances, lack of livelihood and employment prospects, homesickness, language barriers and not wanting to live on social support were the key reasons for this.

Separate interviews conducted recently on behalf of World Vision found 45 per cent of displaced people in Ukraine didn't know how long they would remain in the city in which they were sheltering. A Rapid Needs Assessment conducted in May, revealed almost a quarter (24 per cent) of displaced people in Ukraine were paying rent, 37 per cent are staying with host families and 25 per cent had sought refuge in shelters such as schools and churches.

More than half of parents cited a lack of work and income as their main concern, with a slight but concerning increase (3 per cent) in households and families resorting to begging.

Daniel said World Vision was shifting from an emergency phase to addressing prolonged humanitarian needs, including preparing for a rise in people needing support.

The challenges only add to the pressure on Ukrainian parents, who cite the mental health of their children as their biggest worry. A World Vision report No Peace of Mind published recently also revealed the war in Ukraine has put 1.5 million children in danger of mental health issues including anxiety, depression and social impairment.

Media Contact: For further information or to organise an interview, please contact: Elissa Doherty at or on 0409 99 44 33.

Notes to Editor
In Poland, compensation payments to people sheltering refugees from Ukraine ended on June 30, as authorities feel many have adapted to the country or returned home. However, payments continue for people with disabilities, pregnant women and large families. The Czech Republic is also winding back support.

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