Leading British charities launched a joint fundraising appeal on Thursday to help more than one million refugees who have fled Ukraine.
The 15-charity Disasters Emergency Committee said most of the people fleeing over the borders were women and children arriving only with what they could carry.
The UK government has pledged to match the first £20 million ($26.7m) raised by the DEC, which will use television appeals on the main networks to request donations.
The committee last launched a joint appeal in December to raise money to stop millions of children starving in Afghanistan over the winter.
“I could never have envisaged launching a humanitarian appeal in Europe in 2022,” said DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed. “But tragically, that’s exactly where we find ourselves.”
The committee said people fleeing the country were in desperate need of food, water, medical help and protection.
Andrew Morley, chief executive of World Vision International, told a launch on Thursday that thousands of people were streaming into neighbouring countries and taking three days to cross the border.
“All the children I saw crossing the border were literally in tears,” said Mr Morley, who has just returned from Siret on the Romanian border. “When I looked into their eyes, I saw fear. They were lost, they were scared.
“Thousands of children don’t know what the next few days or next few hours mean to them.”
The UN fears that more than four million people could flee the country due to the conflict.
High commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi is visiting Romania and is due to visit Moldova and Poland in the coming days to promise support for the countries sheltering the new arrivals.
“In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighbouring countries,” he said in a Tweet. “For many millions more, inside Ukraine, it’s time for guns to fall silent, so that life-saving humanitarian assistance can be provided.”