Standing with Ukrainians through one year of war

Over the last year we have observed the horrors of war forced on Ukrainians; people fleeing their homes, losing loved ones, and suffering in dangerous conditions. And during this year, we have committed to helping and standing with Ukrainians impacted by the war, showing our solidarity against the injustice and suffering, until their peace and independence is reclaimed.

Here’s a recap of how Act for Peace has responded, together with our supporters and through our ACT Alliance partner, Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA), over the last 12 months.

Leveraging our networks to support Ukrainian families

When the Ukraine war broke out on 24th February, Act for Peace immediately began coordinating a response effort with our partners through the ACT Alliance network – a global coalition of grassroots aid organisations working together for justice across 140 countries.

Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA), a fellow ACT Alliance member, were helping people on the ground immediately when the invasion began. With its headquarters in neighbouring Hungary, offices in Kybib, Lviv and Berehove, and more than 25 years of presence in Ukraine, HIA were best placed to receive our funds and respond as this crisis as it unfolded.

A record response and the birth of a new national alliance – The Emergency Action Alliance

Back in Australia, our supporters rallied together and gave generously to our emergency appeal.  

Over the following weeks and months, our community raised $1 million to help HIA provide displacement affected Ukrainian families with emergency access to basic humanitarian aid, protection activities and other services in Ukraine and Hungary.

In August 2022, Act for Peace also partnered with other leading international aid charities in Australia, the ABC, and the Federal Government to launch the historic Emergency Action Alliance (EAA), in a combined effort to garner greater support Ukrainian families.

Uniting 14 Australian-based member charities, the EAA created a single way for Australians to donate to the relief effort and has so far raised $28 million.

Our trusted local partner on the ground, Hungarian Interchurch Aid, have delivered over 1600 metric tons of humanitarian aid and assisted 242,361 people since the war started. Credit: Daniel Fekete / HIA

An evolving and far-reaching aid effort in Ukraine

Since February 2022, our partner HIA has doubled down on its efforts to stand with Ukrainians and support affected families, from tangible food aid to cash assistance, community-based relief and psychosocial help.

Watch an overview of their response efforts over the last year:

You can learn more about Hungarian Interchurch Aid here.

From Kharkiv in the east to Berehove in the west, HIA’s colleagues have been supporting internally displaced Ukrainians across 20 regions in their struggle to survive. They focus wherever the need is greatest, even in areas where military activity is still ongoing, such as Kherson.

In the first year of the conflict, HIA has delivered and distributed over 1600 metric tons of humanitarian aid in Ukraine, often in hard-to-reach areas. Across Ukraine and Hungary, their programs have assisted 242,361 people since the war started – an impressive effort.

In a year’s time, we have developed a great deal as an international aid organisation. Exchanging expertise and know-how with our local colleagues, civil societies and our old and long-term partners in Ukraine, we evolve to provide the most proficient and effective response to the rapidly changing needs while still adhering to the highest professional and transparency standards

László Lehel, President-Director of Hungarian Interchurch Aid

Helping Ukrainians through the winter

Due to Russia’s constant attacks on energy infrastructure, limiting the availability of heating and electricity, HIA has implemented winterisation programs to help Ukrainians survive the cold.

The situation is particularly dire in the areas liberated by Ukraine during its Kharkiv offensive, where returning internally displaced people (IDPs) were met with destruction and no utilities – if their houses were inhabitable at all.

HIA established a winterisation action plan, including renovating community shelters hosting displaced people in Pervomaiskyi and providing bomb shelter kits, cast-iron stoves and wooden pellets that could be used for heating in the villages around Balakliya and Izyum.

Distributing electric generators was also a priority for HIA, which has helped Ukrainian NGOs to continue their humanitarian work amid frequent blackouts and power cuts.

Flexible aid mechanisms to support Ukrainians in a dignified way

To help those deprived by the war, HIA is providing much needed assistance with  cash transfers for individuals. In the organisation’s effort to empower large masses of people at once, multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) allows for amore people-centred relief, granting beneficiaries freedom of choice and returning a degree of dignity into their lives.

For some families, this assistance has helped them establish a new life and regrow the roots the war has so cruelly cut away.

Supporting refugees in neighbouring Hungary

In addition to their work within Ukraine, HIA have made significant efforts to assist those forced to flee into neighbouring countries.

Through their Support Centre for Ukrainian Refugees located in downtown Budapest, they aim to cover all possible needs refugees can face while living in Hungary. Working together with an extensive network of groups, congregations, local organisations and social institutions doing humanitarian work in the country has enabled them to support refugees country-wide.

Today, on the 24 February 2023, the war enters its second year, with still no end in sight. The unnecessary suffering of millions of people carries on, and Act for Peace and our ACT Alliance partner, Hungarian Interchurch Aid, are committed to standing with Ukrainians. They are not in this crisis alone, and together with the help of our supporters, our efforts to help them will not waver.

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