Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/Scanpix Denmark

How best to help

How can you best help, and what should you pay special attention to?

The Danish authorities are calling for assistance through the many professional organisations coordinating the work following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Go through the emergency aid organisations

Those in Denmark can help in many ways. For example, by supporting emergency aid organisations and others working professionally in helping Ukrainians in need. Help is more effective if it is coordinated and happens in an orderly way, which is why it is also a good idea to think about how best to help. This applies to going to the Ukrainian border to help Ukrainians come to Denmark.

The authorities do not encourage you as a private individual to go to Ukraine to bring Ukrainians here. If you go anyway, you should have a concrete agreement with the person about who you are collecting and from where.

Go to: How to help emergency aid organisations

Let the professionals help children

Danish authorities are aware of Danes going to Ukraine or other countries to collect children from children’s homes or orphanages to bring back to Denmark. It is absolutely essential that such action is coordinated with relevant authorities and that it is carried out in an orderly fashion.

There are organisations already making huge efforts for displaced Ukrainians, including children. They are used to dealing with these situations, and are best suited to carry out this kind of work. It is also important to note that you are responsible for yourself if you choose to go. It may, in certain circumstances, be a criminal offence if you do not know who has guardianship for the children, and can consent to them going to Denmark.

Be careful that you do not break the law

As an individual, there are several things that you need to be aware of, so as to not inadvertently break the law.

When Ukrainians come to the Danish border, it is important to make sure that their documents are in order before they enter Denmark. Therefore, as a starting point, contact the Danish authorities at the border, unless you are sure in advance that as a Ukrainian or third-country national, a Danish residence permit is otherwise held.

Residents who travel to Ukraine to help people back to Denmark outside of the authorities and emergency aid organisations must therefore be careful to ensure that the Ukrainian citizens have the necessary permission to enter, or contact a Danish embassy when travelling across Europe or with the authorities at the border, so that the grounds for residency is established.

New Emergency Act in place

A new Emergency Act ensures that people from Ukraine will have the opportunity to apply for a residence permit. This can happen at the border, and will give the applicants the right to stay in Denmark while their case is dealt with.

In the case of people who do not have the necessary documents to legally enter Denmark, it is important to approach the Danish authorities at the border, e.g. by submitting an application under the Emergency Act to obtain proof that they have the right to stay in Denmark through this.

You can read more about the Emergency Act here

If their documents are not in order, assisting in entry to Denmark may be illegal. Likewise, pay attention to the rules in other countries, just as you should be aware to not contribute to chaotic conditions, e.g. at the border between Poland and Ukraine.

Therefore, Danish authorities are discouraging private individuals from travelling to Ukraine to bring Ukrainians back here.

When can this be a criminal offence?

Can it be a criminal offence to help Ukrainians cross the border into Denmark? What if I would like to collect Ukrainian children from an orphanage, and can I participate in combat?

Depending on the circumstances, it may be a criminal offense to help persons, including Ukrainian citizens, across the border into Denmark if the persons in question do not have the necessary documents to travel into Denmark.

Picking up Ukrainian children at an orphanage may, depending on the circumstances, be a criminal child abduction under section 215 of the Criminal Code. This will be the case if the child is taken from the orphanage without valid consent from the custodial parent.

In general, it is important to be aware of the legislation in Ukraine, but also in the countries through which you pass.

The Danish authorities encourages to that you let the established organizations and authorities, which are already making a great effort, do their work, and instead helps in other ways.

For a long time, the travel advice from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised against all travel to Ukraine, and Danish residents have been repeatedly urged to leave the country when possible.

The Danish Embassy in Kyiv is temporarily closed, so the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has extremely limited availability to provide consular assistance to Danish citizens in Ukraine during the current situation.

In Danish law, there is nothing legally preventing you travelling from Denmark to Ukraine to participate in combat.

However, it is possible that you will be punished for breaking the laws of war or for war crimes and that assault or killing resulting from illegal participation in combat may be punishable under the general provisions of criminal law, if the conditions are met.

Ukrainian displaced and risk of human trafficking

The war in Ukraine has displaced millions of people from their homes. When this happens, the risk increases that culprits exploit their vulnerable situation and expose them to human trafficking.

The Danish Center against Human Trafficking has launched several initiatives targeting arrivals from Ukraine and professionals who meet them to raise awareness of the risk of human trafficking.

Read more about the Center against Human Trafficking's initiatives and efforts:

About the Danish Action Plan and statistics (cmm.dk)

How to help emergency aid organisations

Who does what? It can be difficult to get an overview of who is doing what in the current situation. You can get an overview here of some of the organisations, how they are helping, and how you can support them.

ADRA Denmark is working with ADRA Ukraine to address urgent needs identified by the UN’s Humanitarian Country Team in Ukraine. Since May 2014, ADRA Ukraine has been helping with the crisis in eastern Ukraine, and has experience with humanitarian assistance.

Throughout Ukraine, ADRA supports internally displaced people and families who are unable to flee with basic humanitarian needs. This is done by ADRA distributing cash to families so that they can buy what they most urgently need, and keep the supermarkets running. ADRA also provides crisis aid and psychosocial support.

Click here to support ADRA Denmark (adra.dk)

The trade union’s development and assistance organisation, Danish Trade Union Development Agency, has received support from the Danish state, together with the United Federation of Workers in Denmark (3F), to help refugees with shelter, food, temporary jobs and other basic needs.

The cooperation is taking place with the trade union movement the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FPU), the central organisation in Ukraine. They own a number of facilities, including 18 holiday centres and other buildings in the western part of Ukraine, which are being used as refugee centres with the support of Denmark.

The internally displaced are provided with food, shelter and other essentials, and with the Danish support the humanitarian work can continue.

Click here to support via the International Trade Union Confederation (petitions.ituc-csi.org)

CARE Denmark works to help the victims of war – both those caught up in it and those fleeing. CARE helps in Ukraine, along its borders, and in neighbouring countries, distributing emergency relief such as food, water, clothing, hygiene items and sleeping bags. There are heated tents at the borders, where, in addition to very basic needs, there is also psychosocial support that can help refugees process their traumatising experiences.

CARE Denmark is a part of one of the world’s largest humanitarian organisations, CARE International, who operate in 102 countries worldwide.

Click here to support CARE Denmark (care.dk)

Caritas supports internally displaced people in Ukraine, in particular people who are unable to flee. With two national offices and 65 local centre, Caritas Ukraine is in close contact with the most vulnerable, and help is given through more than 1,000 volunteers. There is also a large effort in neighbouring countries – for example, Caritas Moldova, Caritas Romania and Caritas Poland are responding urgently to refugees from Ukraine.

In Denmark, Caritas provides legal advice, social counselling, medical care, psychological assistance and intercession services – and a general welcome of refugees and migrants locally.

Click here to support Caritas Denmark (caritas.dk)

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) works in Ukraine, in several of its neighbouring countries, as well as in Denmark. If you want to support in Denmark, you can register as a volunteer for DRC. Another option is to contact your local volunteer group.

In Ukraine and neighbouring countries, you can best support DRC’s work by giving a donation. Within Ukraine, DRC distributes food, blankets and hygiene packages, as well as small amounts of cash. DRC is also present in neighbouring countries to support civil society and the reception of refugees by authorities with reception centres, emergency psychological aid, legal aid, and cash payments.

Click here to support the Danish Refugee Council (help.drc.ngo)

Red Cross distributes clean water, food, blankets, medicine and hygiene packages to fleeing civilians, as well as providing protection, and offering first aid and metal health first aid. Due to a long-standing partnership with Ukrainian Red Cross, the organisation is able to distribute through 6,000 employees and volunteers, reaching all parts of the country.

The asylum department of the Danish Red Cross is receiving Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum.

The Red Cross is no longer present at Copenhagen Central Station, but written information can be found in several languages in relation to where Ukrainian refugees can receive support and guidance when they come to Denmark.

The organisation is present in reception centres of authorities to provide psychosocial support. Going forward, the Danish Red Cross will provide psychosocial support, language support and networking in the local community, especially with the programme Friends Show the Way together with the Danish Refugee Council, where a refugee is matched with a volunteer individual or family.

Click here to support Danish Red Cross (rodekors.dk)

DIGNITY helps and supports local Ukrainian organisations who have been working for years with legal aid and psychological crisis care and rehabilitation in Ukraine.

In addition, DIGNITY works to provide psychological crisis support in neighbouring countries to Ukraine, just as they offer specialised trauma treatment to all – not just Ukrainian – refugees residing in Denmark.

Click here to support DIGNITY (dignity.dk)

DanChurchAid is ready to welcome refugees in Ukraine and the border areas. There is an urgent need for food, water and shelter for the many families whose lives have been instantly changed.

Together with local partners, DanChurchAid helps the most vulnerable people. This happens in partnership with Hungarian Interchurch Aid, who since 1993 has worked in Ukraine with development projects that support people with disabilities, those mentally at risk and vulnerable groups in society.

Click here to support DanChurchAid’s collection to benefit Ukraine (noedhjaelp.dk)

International Media Support (IMS) works in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to protect journalists and the media so that they can continue to disseminate news that is crucial for Ukrainians’ access to credible and reliable information.

IMS is also fighting ‘the information war’. Disinformation can cost lives, create panic, incite violence or prolong the war, so IMS works with partners to fight fake news and provide the public with access to facts.

Click here to support International Media Support (mediasupport.org)

The first priority of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is to provide as many supplies as possible to the many hospitals lacking them, such as medicines for acute care and chronic illnesses.
MSF also trains staff in hospitals in areas at risk of attack and siege so that they can treat many injured at once. A team of surgeons, doctors and nurses are sent by MSF across the border with mobile clinics. MSF is also present in neighbouring countries of Ukraine where refugees are fleeing to.

Click here to support Médecins Sans Frontières (msf.dk)

Mission East provides relief to displaced people in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees on the Polish and Hungarian borders.

This is done through partner organisations that run receiving centres and provide food, medicine, hygiene items, blankets and accommodation.

In addition to working with doctors, nurses and aid workers, Mission East coordinates several hundred volunteers who are assisting refugees orient themselves and find help and protection.

Click here to support Mission East (missioneast.dk)

Plan International Denmark works to ensure the rights of children and young people in the world’s most vulnerable countries. Plan International is present in Ukraine through partners, and present themselves in Romania, Moldova and Poland. The organisation helps children and families fleeing war process their trauma. Trauma like waking up to the sound of bombs, seeing your homeland destroyed, or leaving your childhood home – perhaps forever. Plan International also distributes cash for food, medicine, nappies and other essentials.

Click here to support Plan International Denmark

Click here to support Plan International Denmark (planbornefonden.dk)

Save the Children has worked in Ukraine since 2014, and is now responding to the changing situation both within and outside of Ukraine. This includes distributing food, warm clothing and blankets, as well as financially supporting families so that they can cover basic needs themselves. Save the Children also provides psychosocial support by creating, among other things, child-safe areas where children can play and take a safe break from the chaos they are experiencing right now. About half of those fleeing Ukraine are children.

Click here to support Save the Children Denmark (redbarnet.dk)

SOS Children’s Villages has been in Ukraine for over 20 years, and has a well-organised, professional organisation locally. SOS Children’s Villages continues to work for vulnerable children and families, and also initiates larger, urgent relief efforts aimed at endangered children and young people, as well as vulnerable families with young children, with food and clean water, psychosocial assistance, healthcare measures and distribution of a wide range of basic needs. Over the next two years, the aim of SOS Children’s Villages is to support 60,000 people – children and vulnerable families with young children – in addition to existing activities.

The staff from SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine have extensive professional experience in treating children traumatised by war, and work in close collaboration with both authorities and partner organisations. This makes them particularly well placed to be able to quickly provide an extraordinary relief effort for children and their families affected by the war.

Click here to support SOS Children’s Villages (sosbornebyerne.dk)