Webinar: The War in Ukraine and the Complex Health Emergencies Facing People on the Move


This webinar, held on Wednesday, 30 March 2022, 3 – 4.30 PM CET, was organised by the Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies and the Lancet Migration European Regional Hub. The webinar aimed to engage in-depth with context-specific health priorities in the Ukraine crisis. Panelists will shared their experiences to provide data about the current state and future of the humanitarian crisis to prepare and respond to the crisis. The webinar also focussed on the health needs and access to healthcare and health services for people on the move.

Watch the recording here.


Irina Shevchenko, Nezabutni Charitable Foundation, Ukraine

Dr Ela Czapka, Assistant Professor, University of Gdańsk, Poland

Dr Apostolos Veizis, INTERSOS Hellas, Thessaloniki, Greece; Lancet Migration European Regional Hub

Yannis Vardakastanis, President of International Disability Alliance and European Disability Forum

Oleksii Sukhovii, Head of Psychiatric Care, Institute of Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Examination and Drug Monitoring, Ministry of Health of Ukraine

Teymur Noori, Migrant Health, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Co-Chaired by:

Dr Sally Hargreaves, The Migrant Health Research Group, Institute for Infection and Immunity, St George’s, University of London; Lancet Migration European Regional Hub

Prof Davide Mosca, Realizing Health SDGs for Migrants, Displaced and Communities; Lancet Migration European Regional Hub

Background information

According to UNHCR estimates, over four million people are expected to flee from their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance to neighbouring countries after the military offensive in Ukraine.
The First Geneva Convention clearly defines that during a crisis, the health system and health workers should be protected, in order to continue to save lives, to remain functional, safe, and accessible to all who need essential medical services.
In Ukraine and neighbouring host countries, there are significant barriers to access to healthcare services, shortage in medicines and healthcare workforce, lack of specialised beds and equipment in hospitals and health facilities, due to active hostilities and martial law (curfew).
These barriers are further compounded by a health system already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring the health and wellbeing of all people (especially the vulnerable) who are affected by crises and conflicts is a key pillar of humanitarian aid.
Regarding the current situation in Ukraine, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the following main health risks:
● Casualties and injuries.
● Non-communicable diseases and disabilities and access to healthcare services.
● COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
● Mental health.

The most urgent needs identified are:
● Access to basic and domestic items including food, unrestricted cash assistance, warm clothes, shoes, heaters and core relief items.
● Access to basic services such as water, sanitation, and hygiene, health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, information, and shelter
● Access to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services.
● Provision of services in compliance with COVID-19 measures.

For all the above-mentioned reasons an Inter-agency Regional Response Plan (RRP) brought together UN Agencies, NGOs and other relevant partners with the following objectives:
● Support host countries to ensure that every refugee from Ukraine has access to safety and international protection.
● Support host countries to provide timely and life-saving humanitarian assistance for refugees, and vulnerable populations.
● Facilitate the transition and integration of the refugees in host countries.
● Organise actions for people with chronic health problems and disabilities whose care and support has been halted due to the war.
● Communication and community engagement.
● Ensure effective coordination of partners at the country and regional level.