Ukrainian Refugee Crisis And ADRA Collaboration

'You let me take a deep breath... Thank you for that.'

News February 26, 2024

20 February 2024| Brussels, Belgium [Corinna Wagner]


As the conflict in Ukraine rages on, leaving a trail of death and destruction, countless Ukrainians find themselves displaced, their homes destroyed, and their lives shattered. Among them is Alla Turovets, an elderly woman from Bucha District, Kyiv Region, whose home was reduced to rubble by the violence. ‘Everything burned down to the foundation! There is nothing left, there is nowhere to live,’ she laments, pointing to the remnants of her once-so-loved home.

For Alla and many like her, the dream of a warm, safe shelter seems distant amid the chaos of war. Living in makeshift accommodations—a tent in the summer and a metal shelter in the winter—provides little relief from the bitter cold. ‘We have to live somewhere,’ Alla explains, as she highlights the challenges faced by her family. Three of her family members are disabled, living on meagre social assistance and her modest pension.

In March 2022, as the conflict in Ukraine escalated, it triggered a mass exodus of Ukrainians fleeing violence and instability. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) mobilised its resources and networks across Europe to provide essential aid and support to those displaced by the crisis, both inside Ukraine and abroad.

Now, as we mark the second anniversary of this ongoing conflict, it’s a moment to reflect on the collaborative humanitarian efforts undertaken by ADRA and its partners and the way forward.

The beginning of a Long Journey – which continues

Thomas Petracek, Head of Programs at the ADRA Europe Regional office remembers: ‘We stood on the border between Slovakia and Ukraine when thousands of refugees passed the gate, just with their basic belongings like small suitcases or backpacks, women holding the children in their hands or their arms, elderly supporting each other, all tired, exhausted, freezing because of the minus temperatures,  but happy to reach the place of safety. We invited them into the ADRA tent and provided them with a warm space, food, blankets, and a place to rest.

This was the beginning of a long journey, not only for the refugees but also for hundreds of ADRA workers and volunteers protecting and supporting them daily. There were many challenges, but also nice stories giving hope to all. Let us never forget that we are humans and need each other in good and difficult days.  And the journey continues.’

ADRA and Local Church Collaboration Key

Two years later, we have learned a lot. Our offices have deepened their expertise in the fields of emergency response, psychosocial support, safeguarding and multi-purpose cash transfers. Offices across Europe have elaborated or revised National Emergency Response Plans, to be prepared for quick responses to certain future scenarios of crisis.

ADRA Europe Regional Director João Martins points out, ‘As a next step we want to closely collaborate with churches across Europe, to train “disaster ready churches”. In fact, collaboration with local members has been one of the most important factors for ADRA to upscale aid so quickly. This has only been possible thanks to our network of supporters, be it volunteers, donors and professionals. Thank you to every one of you!’

ADRAs Comprehensive Response Across Europe

Across Europe, ADRA concentrated on activities in the following sectors:

–  Psychosocial support and healing
–  Emergency shelter and accommodation
– Food and essential supplies distribution

– Multipurpose cash transfers for refugees and hosts
– Language and cultural Integration
– Education and empowerment
– Healthcare and medical assistance
– Community engagement and integration.

ADRA’s Response – Country By Country:


ADRA Austria swiftly responded to the crisis by collecting offers for emergency shelter and providing immediate assistance to arriving refugee families. ADRA organized German language courses and cultural orientation programs to facilitate the ability of refugees to integrate into Austrian society. Summer camps for 150 Ukrainian children in the Summer of 2023 served as a platform for psychosocial support and healing, allowing young Ukrainians to temporarily escape the trauma of war and recharge in Austrian nature.

‘You let me take a deep breath,’ said 11-year-old Misha. ‘I was able to let go of my fears and negative thoughts and feel happy here and now. Not someday when the war is over, but now. Thank you for that.’


ADRA Belgium played an important role in supporting the setup of temporary shelters at Ukraine border crossings, offering food and essential supplies to refugees seeking safety. Moreover, multi-purpose cash support was provided to empower families to meet their basic needs and regain a sense of autonomy amidst uncertainty. ADRA Belgium further organised a big humanitarian convoy delivering 1 ton of food to Mukachevo/Ukraine.


ADRA Croatia focused on their expertise: children’s welfare within refugee centres or among the vulnerable population. Through language learning programmes, recreational activities, and special holiday events, ADRA sought to create a supportive and nurturing environment for displaced children, offering them moments of joy and normality amidst this crisis in their lives.

ADRA Croatia seeks to provide a sense of routine in the middle of lives disrupted.

Czech Republic

ADRA Czech’s humanitarian efforts have transitioned from acute assistance to long-term support for those affected by war. In Ukraine, they focus on repairing infrastructure and ensuring decent living conditions for internally displaced persons (IDPs), supporting collective centres for a total of 360 individuals until June 2023, and currently aiding one in Kamianka, Cherkasy region. Preparation for winter includes delivering solid fuel boilers and generators to prevent electricity shortages as well as repairing heating systems. Additionally, they have installed wastewater treatment plants and provided drinking water in villages like Chynadiyovo and Obava.

Assistance extends to Moldova and Georgia, with food aid, hygiene items, and material donations benefiting thousands, plus language classes.

In the Czech Republic, integration activities and psychological support through our volunteer centres are provided, benefiting 10,529 individuals. Their total support value from 2022-2023 for Ukraine amounted to CZK 240,000,000. They plan ongoing support for winter aid and flexible crisis response.


ADRA Denmark’s support during the Ukraine crisis has been comprehensive, focusing on psychosocial support (PSS) through individual and group consultations, combined with a hotline for those unable to leave affected areas. Children received psychosocial support in summer camps. Approximately 15,500 people benefitted from the acute emergency assistance funded by ADRA Denmark in 2022 and 2023, in particular through multipurpose cash support. Planned support includes strengthening Ukrainian civil society’s role in recovery, with initiatives such as rehabilitating schools in Mykolaiv and supporting community-led crisis response and recovery efforts.


ADRA Finland cooperated with local churches which were involved in handing out food support to refugees that had arrived in Finland. Beyond that, they actively supported the ongoing projects in Ukraine.


ADRA France significantly bolstered its support for Ukrainian refugees, offering a wide range of services to meet their diverse needs. With 900 volunteers and local offices, they provided emergency accommodation for 504 individuals and distributed €22,500 worth of vouchers for basic needs. In 2022, 246 tons of food and 4,099 hygiene kits were distributed, alongside French lessons for refugees. Special events like “Pêche solidaire” and collaboration with Hope Radio aimed to support and uplift beneficiaries. ADRA France also partnered with La Protection Civile, facilitating donations collection and sending one plane and 28 trucks of aid to Slovakia and Poland for distribution to Ukraine. A true collaboration across Europe.


ADRA and its partners have aided a total of 601,625 individuals affected by the Ukraine conflict across various countries, with significant assistance provided in Germany, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine itself. In Germany, ADRA secured accommodation for over 1,200 refugees and established support networks, including language courses and integration assistance. In Ukraine, ADRA focused on winter aid, house repairs, and medical support, supplying hospitals with equipment and generators. Fire departments also received assistance, with ADRA donating firefighting vehicles. These efforts were made possible through partnerships with volunteers, Adventist organizations, and generous donors who funded the transport of 70 tons of aid to Ukraine.


ADRA Hungary provided short-term shelters in Adventist Church buildings near the Ukrainian border, accommodating 407 beneficiaries, while relief projects at Budapest railway stations provided refugees with food parcels and hot meals. Collaborating with NEKAA Foundation, ADRA transported 2,700 m3 of donations, benefiting an estimated 5,400 individuals. They facilitated aid transports, including medical supplies to Angelina Clinic and Regional Hospital of Mukachevo, with support from ADRA Germany for 356 beneficiaries. One factory of orthopaedic and medical goods was given support to relocate from Kyiv to Mukachevo. Additionally, ADRA assisted in opening classes for Ukrainian children in Székesfehérvár, covering their meals, and collaborated with UN IOM to provide safe accommodation and transportation for 180 displaced persons from Ukraine.

ADRA Hungary workers pause for a moment as the load supplies into the car. But will there be enough room left for the refrigerator?


ADRA Netherlands actively fundraised for this emergency and supported the diverse activities organized by ADRA Ukraine inside Ukraine.


Besides experiencing generous donations from private donors, and supporting emergency projects in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, ADRA Norway’s local teams expanded to 11 active teams across churches, with more showing interest. Activities range from Norwegian language training to events like concerts and practical support. Notably, the Tyrifjord ADRA team provided essentials and organized teen events at a local high school to help the young Ukrainians to form friendships. They also assisted refugees in settling by furnishing apartments and offering welcome packages, including gift cards from a second-hand shop. Transportation services and integration into community activities, such as the Pony club, aim to foster connections and provide support beyond material assistance.

Tyrifjord and Ukrainian youth spend the Christmas season together, organised by ASDRA Norway.


ADRA Poland’s humanitarian efforts were characterized by a multifaceted approach aimed at addressing the diverse needs of Ukrainian refugees. From humanitarian shipments and evacuation assistance to the provision of shelter, food, and integration services, ADRA played a pivotal role in supporting refugees across various stages of displacement. Additionally, ADRA’s collaboration with local partners and international organizations facilitated the delivery of vital aid and resources to those in need, underscoring the organization’s commitment to solidarity and collaboration in times of crisis.

Warsaw Bus Station, March 2022. A Ukrainian mother and daughter walk out to the waiting bus to head east for the foreseeable future.


ADRA Romania started the “Hope for Ukraine” umbrella project, which aimed to respond to the humanitarian crisis at Romania’s borders by providing humanitarian aid to refugees from Romania, Ukraine, and the Republic of Moldova.  Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, more than 515,450 Ukrainian refugees have been assisted as follows: 1,800 people assisted on the territory of the Republic of Moldova; 3,861 were transported; 13,103 persons hosted; 16,355 assisted with food and non-food items; 35,279 people given financial, educational, and legal support for labor market integration; 40,462 persons assisted on the territory of Ukraine and 404,590 people assisted at border crossings.

In collaboration with the Adventist Church in Romania, ADRA additionally organized 80 humanitarian convoys (74 to Ukraine and 6 to the Republic of Moldova). The most important activities were: financial assistance, psychosocial services for children and adults, setting up child-friendly spaces, facilitating the integration of refugee children into the Romanian educational system for Ukrainian children, humanitarian aid for the winter period, settlement of medical tests, food aid, etc.


ADRA Serbia’s engagement with Ukrainian refugees centred on community-based support and empowerment initiatives, by integrating Ukrainian refugees into the activities in its community centre and educational programs. The Community Centre outside Belgrade provides free access to essential services. Children, youth and adults exposed to different risks of violence, social exclusion and poverty participate in the activities. This leads to better school results, improved psychosocial health, better income, access to health and social care support, and independence. ADRA also runs a ‘School on Wheels’, which enters poor neighbourhoods and involves children in fun learning activities. For a child, that is an entry point into ADRA’s educational programme.

The purpose of the ADRA ‘School on Wheels’ bus it to connect with children who need extra educational support.


ADRA Slovakia’s activities have reached over 200,000 vulnerable internally displaced persons (IDPs), delivering essential food and hygiene items to communities near conflict zones. In Ukraine, ADRA Slovakia provided livelihood support to 700 households near war zones, addressing the aftermath of missile attacks by offering cash assistance for repairing damaged homes and windows. 80 generators were supplied to hospitals and IDP centres in Ukraine.

ADRA Slovakia has also facilitated the humanitarian corridor between Slovakia and Ukraine by providing warehouses, trucks, and fuel to ADRA Ukraine.

Over 400,000 individuals crossing the border were provided with socio-psychological support, material aid, and essential information at entry and exit points. In Slovakia, more than 50,000 refugees have received material aid, including food, hygiene items, and clothing, through eight HelpCentres across the country as well as psychosocial support in Bratislava.


ADRA Sweden provided approximately 1.8 million euros in support to Ukraine through project sponsorship, focusing on network projects and cash assistance. Additionally, they facilitated the transportation of three trucks and 230,000 medical consumables to local hospitals in Ukraine, thanks to a generous private donation and logistics assistance from ADRA Slovakia. ADRA Sweden also contributed by providing transportation support to Direct Ukraine to provide Gammelsvenskbyn village and Berislav hospital in the Cherson region with essential medicine, stoves, and building materials.

In Sweden, individuals rescued by ADRA visited the Swedish Royal Chapel, where they shared about their journeys with royalty. Furthermore, ADRA Sweden organised the funeral and supported the family of a Ukrainian pastor, murdered in Stockholm for his pro-Ukrainian and Christian beliefs. ADRA Sweden facilitated the relocation and integration of an opera prima from Zhaporizhzhia Theatre to Sweden. Since then, she has provided ongoing support through fundraising events and her participation in significant gatherings like the prayer service at the Royal Chapel.

ADRA Sweden supplied 230,000 medical items to local Ukrainian hospitals.


In spring and summer 2022, ADRA Switzerland provided housing for 80 refugees in private accommodations and offered food vouchers during their transition period into the public social support system. Additionally, ongoing support includes financial assistance for public transportation for Ukrainian refugees. Beyond that, ADRA Switzerland was much engaged in supporting the ongoing humanitarian projects in Ukraine.


ADRA Slovenia’s response to the Ukrainian crisis encompassed a wide range of activities aimed at addressing the multifaceted needs of refugees. From medical aid donations to Ukraine and arranging accommodation for arriving refugees to psycho-social support programs, relief items (food and hygiene articles) and educational initiatives, ADRA aimed at providing holistic support to displaced individuals and families.

In the second phase, ADRA Slovenia focused mainly on psycho-social support and started to implement weekly workshops, especially intended for women and children who have been on the run throughout the whole of 2022 and 2023. In the coming months, ADRA Slovenia intends to continue to support the refugees in Slovenia with food vouchers and school supplies.

United Kingdom

In March 2022, shortly after the Ukraine conflict began, the newly elected British Union Conference President and ADRA-UK Board Chair, Eglan Brooks, together with Irish Mission President, Dan Serb travelled to Ukraine via Romania to support the humanitarian work in both countries.  

Eglan Brooks and Dan Serb (centre) at an ADRA refugee support post in the spring of 2022 listening to leaders on the ground about how best ADRA UK can give support.

As part of the I Am Urban initiative, ADRA-UK also facilitated the Adventist Community Services (ACS) Response to Ukrainian Refugees led by Sharon Platt-McDonald, Director for Health, ACS and Women’s Ministries in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.  The response included a Cities of Refugees Project spear-headed by Dr Beatrice Kastrati, ACS Director North England Conference and a 10 Point Integrative Model (Operational Framework) for Refugee Support in the UK.  These were implemented to support host families embracing the Government’s Home for Refugees scheme.  

ADRA-UK also raised over £150,00 for the Ukraine conflict. 


The response in Ukraine itself is too comprehensive to cover here in a few lines. At the end of November 2023, our team produced a video report giving an update on the response inside Ukraine. 

The way forward – among others: Improving access to education for children

As we reflect on ADRA’s collective efforts to support Ukrainian refugees across various sectors, it’s clear that their impact has been profound.

However, as UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi reminds us, the crisis persists, and the need for support remains critical. At the ‘joint Launch of the Ukraine Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan and the Regional Refugee Response Plan for Ukraine for 2024’ on UNwebTV, he highlighted, ‘Let us not forget this crisis. This volatility is literally a killer.’

When we look at the statistics of Ukrainian refugees, only 50% of children go to school full-time, and only 50% of working-age Ukrainians have the ability to work. ADRA has been emphasizing the importance of education for every child in its global advocacy campaign “Every Child. Everywhere. In School.” This is also critically important for refugee and IDP children.

While we reaffirm our commitment to provide aid to displaced persons, we are also planning to strengthen our project activities in the sector of education to support the children and youth affected by this war, so they can access quality education and are not left behind.

Thank you for standing together with us and with all the people affected by this crisis. There is still much to do, to be a blessing to those hurting – in Ukraine and abroad.


[Photos: courtesy of ADRA Croatia, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, UK and David Neal]. Featured Image: Tyrifjord and Ukrainian youth having fun together. 

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