HIA's Response in Ukraine & Hungary

our Humanitarian response to the war

Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) has had a permanent presence in Ukraine for more than 25 years. Since February 2022 Hungarian Interchurch Aid has doubled down on its efforts to provide help to those in need – both in Hungary and Ukraine. From tangible, in-kind food aid to cash assistance, community-based relief and psychosocial help, HIA’s response to this crisis is multisectoral and flexible. Supported by other members from ACT Alliance, HIA is present on both sides of the border and is providing assistance to those in need, wherever they are seeking help.


refugees fled Ukraine


internally displaced people


assisted people


tonnes of aid delivered


shelters supported


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HIA is officially registered with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine as a nation-wide organisation. Coordinated from its regional offices in Kyiv, Berehove and Lviv, HIA has already carried out country-wide humanitarian and development work since 2015. Our current programme in Ukraine encompasses 20 regions from Berehove in the West to Zaporizhzhia in the Southeast.

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Emergency aiding in ukraine

With the onset of the conflict on 24 February, Hungarian Interchurch Aid immediately started to prepare its response. The disruption of supply chains coupled with a huge displacement crisis meant that during the chaotic spring months, providing emergency access to basic food and non-food items as well as health & hygiene products was critical. However, where fighting ceased as new territories were liberated, the importance of in-kind aid remains paramount to this day. To support humanitarian operations in Ukraine logistically, HIA set up warehouses in Budapest, Berehove and Lviv in the first days of the war. During spring, HIA delivered in-kind aid to support the tens of thousands of displaced people arriving in Western Ukraine from the war-affected regions. More than 250 community shelters received food, sanitary products, clothes and household appliances throughout the year. As time went on and Russian troops were forced into retreat from their positions in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson regions, HIA reoriented its in-kind aid programme towards the liberated territories. With a focus on hard-to-reach locations – where international aid organisations rarely venture – HIA has delivered aid in places where military activity is still ongoing, such as Kherson itself.

Protection & psychosocial Support

Through several programmes, Hungarian Interchurch Aid is involved in the protection of Ukrainians throughout the country. From free legal counsel to resilience-building community workshops, from sports programmes to art- and psychotherapy, HIA and its partners in the field work together to preserve their mental wellbeing. HIA’s goal remains to help those traumatised by the fighting, bombing and the uncertainty of life in Ukraine. The past year has left a large percentage of Ukrainians at least mentally scarred – and children are especially affected by the horrors of war. Apart from working directly with them, HIA also provides further trainings for psychologists in order to reach as many people as possible.
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Cash - a dignified way of helping

To help those deprived by the war, HIA employs two types of cash transfers for individuals. In the organisation’s effort to empower large masses of people at once, multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) allows for a more people-centred relief, granting beneficiaries freedom of choice and returning a degree of dignity into their lives. The financial support received within the MPCA programme is a three-month instalment of 6600 UAH. Cash for protection – also called Assess & Assist – intends to benefit those, who have specific protection issues that cannot be covered by the multi-purpose cash transfers, like an upcoming medical expenditure. Hungarian Interchurch Aid has been providing internally displaced Ukrainians with cash transfers since June of 2022. Applicants are registered and reviewed whether they fit the criteria agreed by the Cash Working Group in Ukraine.

Flexible small grants

The Ukrainian civil society was quick to organise itself after the outbreak of war, doing tremendous and essential work – but as the war dragged on, their financial means to continue doing their part became more and more limited. Believing in the power of community, HIA introduced grants (Flexible Small Grants – FSG) for these organisations who are involved in the humanitarian work in Ukraine. The cooperation between HIA and the organisations is mutually beneficial, since the knowledge of local needs coupled with HIA’s humanitarian expertise enables a grassroot-level response while strengthening the resilience of local actors. Some organisations need the FSG funding to buy food & hygiene products for the displaced people in their care, others need them for equipment or specialists for therapy. In autumn, several winterization projects were also financed through the FSG programme. Whatever the purpose of the grantees may be, HIA supports their aim with flexible-use grants up to $10,000 each. Each project has a duration of 2 to 3 months, after which the cooperation is evaluated, and a decision is made on the renewal of the agreement.


Following the retreat of Russian forces from Northern Ukraine, Hungarian Interchurch Aid faced a situation that necessitated a different approach to its previous work in Ukraine. The thoroughly and intentionally damaged public infrastructure reinforced the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn regions. Seeing the scale destruction in Borodyanka, Irpin, Bucha and the whole area, HIA sought to cooperate with other actors, especially with its strategic partner, the Hungarian Government. HIA received funding for the renovation of a school in Zahal’tsi and the building of a healthcare facility with added post and local government functions in Synyak. Part of this same project was the installation of a kindergarten made up of mobile containers to replace the original structure in Zahal’tsi, which was completely destroyed by the fighting during last spring.


Fekete Dániel

Emergency response in Hungary

Besides setting up its response in Ukraine, HIA also needed to react to the thousands of refugees arriving from Ukraine in a swift and decisive manner: on 25 February, volunteers and staff arrived to the border and set up tents and a refugee support point. Thinking about the families flying out from Budapest, a child-friendly space was put up at Liszt Ferenc International Airport. Naturally, accommodation – both short- and long-term – was also in high need. HIA rented apartments, paid for hotel rooms and freed up space in its social institutions for this end, and built up a network of partners providing for refugees staying in Hungary with food, hygiene items, shelter and psychosocial support. The next step was the establishment of a refugee transit hub in Budapest, operated in cooperation with 5 other charitable organisations. Here refugees arriving by train receive food, drinks, help in traveling further, and can also apply for accommodation, different services and register themselves with the authorities if they wish to stay longer.

adjusting to life in hungary

Looking for a way to support refugees in adjusting to Hungary, HIA established its Support Centre for Ukrainian Refugees in the heart of Budapest. From providing all kinds of information, organising various community events and courses to the distribution of in-kind donations, the Support Centre aims to cover all issues refugees can face while living in Hungary. The institution employs social workers, psychologists and aid workers to give refugees looking for mental support, legal counsel, accommodation, access to the labour market, healthcare and education a helping hand. Closely attached to the Centre is a community space where Ukrainian-speaking mental health professionals help children aged 1 to 6 to cope with their underlying traumas by providing various kinds of therapies (art, music) while their parents are off to work. HIA’s institutions in the countryside coupled with the cooperation with an extensive network of groups, congregations and organisations doing humanitarian work in Hungary enables HIA to support refugees country-wide
8 March 2022, Budapest, Hungary: In Budafok, Budapest, a dozen volunteers work daily to service a collection point for donations and other material support for Ukrainian refugees, organized by Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA). HIA receives, sorts and logs donations from the public, and channels them onward to the border areas between Ukraine and Hungary, as well as into Ukraine, where as an early response the HIA have set up two refugee support centres in the subcarpathian region. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February, hundreds of thousands of people have crossed the border into Hungary to seek refuge.

a community of helpers

On February 24th, the world woke up to the news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While many just watched in horror, Hungarian civilians, charitable organisations, businesses, corporations and government bodies immediately started organising themselves.  It seemed as if everyone and every business had something to give to the refugees. HIA volunteers have worked countless hours sorting and classifying donations, preparing and handing out food & hygiene kits at the transit hub for refugees, on the border or anywhere where they were needed. Without their dedication, HIA staff wouldn’t have been able to provide help to those in need like they did. Complementing the unprecedented amount of durable food, hygiene items, clothes, childcare products and lots more that the organisation has collected from businesses and common people, HIA also started a domestic fundraising campaign to finance its activities in the humanitarian crisis caused by the war. The campaign proved how the power of community is able to make a difference if a community acts together for a common cause.

About Hungarian Interchurch Aid

Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) was founded in 1991 by Hungarian historical Protestant and Orthodox churches.  The founding churches are now working together as a growing community of professionals, volunteers, donors and responsible corporate partners to help those in need.

As one of the largest, internationally recognized charity organisations in Hungary, HIA has carried out humanitarian and development work in over 40 countries, providing assistance to those in need in many countries around the world regardless of nationality, religion or world view, meeting the highest professional and transparency requirements. HIA has its Headquarters in Budapest, Hungary, and operates Regional Offices in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ethiopia. 

Hungarian Interchurch Aid has had a permanent presence in Ukraine for more than 25 years. We have opened an office in Berehove in 1998, which is still operating. We are officially registered in Kyiv as an aid organisation with nation-wide operations.

In addition to humanitarian aid provided after disasters, the aim of our activity is to deliver long-term sustainable development model programmes and to provide capacity building for our local partners. 

Since 2014 – following an international request – we have been involved in the care of internally displaced persons in several locations, providing tangible support for the internally displaced in 20 regions of Ukraine. In the first years of the crisis, we opened 2 more offices in Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia. In addition to distributing aid packages containing food, hygiene and household items, we have renovated community accommodation units, delivered hundreds of tons of fuel, and provided psychosocial assistance to those who lived through the traumas of war.

Before the 2022 war, we have carried out significant humanitarian and development work in 20 regions and 543 settlements of Ukraine, directly benefiting over 578,000 people.

In the first days of the coronavirus epidemic, we started to support institutions in Ukraine in their efforts to combat COVID-19. Several shipments of COVID-19 health protection equipment (masks, hygiene products, and 220 respirators) were delivered to Ukraine by HIA as a donation of the Hungarian Government.


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