Every day, the news from Ukraine shows homes destroyed by airstrikes, smoke rising from the rubble, and distraught families separated from their loved ones.

It can be easy to feel powerless in the face of so much devastation, heartbreak, and suffering, but there are practical ways to help and everyone can make a difference.

In a video made by the Disaster Emergency Committee and the BBC for the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, actor Adrian Lester said: “The conflict is having devastating consequences.”

Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and triggered Europe’s largest refugee crisis since the second world war. According to the committee, four million people are expected to be displaced due to the conflict, with 18 million predicted to be affected.

At least three million people have fled their homes, leaving behind jobs, belongings, and loved ones. Homes have been destroyed or are unsafe to live in, while critical infrastructure like health facilities, water supplies, and schools have also been damaged or destroyed.

Mr. Lester said: “Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have left the county in recent days and the numbers continue to rise rapidly. People are queuing at borders - hungry, exhausted, often separated from loved ones. Many are ill-equipped to face freezing temperatures.

At Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova, huge numbers of people are arriving with only what they can carry. In many places, there are long waits to cross and few facilities on the other side, with temperatures dropping below freezing overnight. There have also been increasing media reports of racism against people of colour who are being refused access to aid and the right to cross the border to safety.

Mr. Lester added: “Others, still in Ukraine, have had to leave home to shelter from the bombardment, living under curfew with little chance to buy food or get cash. Many homes are now destroyed or unsafe to live in. Essential services – schools and hospitals – have been affected.”

The Disasters Emergency Committee is made up of 15 aid charities from the UK, including Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, Oxfam and Save The Children. These charities work together to raise funds quickly at times of crisis overseas and are collaborating on the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, to provide food, water, shelter, healthcare, and protection.

Mr. Lester said: “It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of so much catastrophic human need, but you can help. Many [of the UK’s leading aid charities] are already working within Ukraine and neighbouring countries, preparing to scale up their operations. They can help provide food and water, warm clothes and blankets for many families in need, as well as vital medicine and medical equipment for those who are sick or have been injured.

According to the committee, a £10 donation could provide someone with a month’s worth of hygiene supplies like soap, washing powder, and medical masks. A £20 donation could provide one person with a month’s worth of emergency food, while £50 could provide enough blankets for four families and £100 could provide emergency food for two families for a month.

For more information and to donate, visit the Disasters Emergency Committee website www.dec.org.uk or phone 0370 60 60 900. You can also donate £10 by texting HELP to 70150 or post a cheque to PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA. Cheques should be made payable to DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. 

Written By Liz Day