Published on February 27, 2023
To quote this article: Sara Germain, Janyck Beaulieu, Stéphanie Maltais, and François Audet, “One year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine: humanitarian needs are as great as ever”, Humanitarian Alternatives, 27 February 2023, https://www.alternatives-humanitaires.org/en/2023/02/27/one-year-after-the-russian-invasion-of-ukraine
A few weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we published an articleFrançois Audet, Sara Germain and Stéphanie Maltais, “The state of affairs in Ukraine: flagrant violations of humanitarian principles”, Humanitarian Alternatives, 18 march 2022, … Continue reading written in collaboration with our partner, the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crises and Aid (OCCAH). From the very beginning of the war, OCCAH has been monitoring the humanitarian consequences of the conflict in Ukraine. A dozen researchers spent considerable time evaluating and analysing the situation to provide humanitarian organisations, academic organisations (e.g., universities), and policy makers with valuable decision-making information. One year later, four researchers provid us with an assessment of humanitarian needs.
Exactly one year ago, on 24 February 2022, the Russian Federation illegally invaded Ukraine. This violent attack shocked the world, and pushed all other humanitarian crises into the background, including the Covid-19 pandemic. This war created what is now recognised as the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II. With more than 13 million people displacedAgence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, 14 février 2023, https://data.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine, more than 18,000 civilian casualties,Statista, 12 février 2023, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1293492/ukraine-war-casualties executions, acts of torture, thousands of war crimes under investigation,Nations Unies, Guerre en Ukraine : la Commission d’enquête de l’ONU conclut que des crimes de guerre ont été commis, 23 septembre 2022, https://news.un.org/fr/story/2022/09/1127701 and with ramifications extending well beyond Europe’s borders by generating an economic downturn and a world food crisis, the repercussions of the conflict will be felt long after the war ends. The goal of this article is to document the humanitarian situation one year after the beginning of the Russian invasion and to bring to light certain specific elements of the dire situation in Ukraine.
The violence continues: no letup on the horizon
This conflict will likely continue for some time. While many analysts predicted that the Russian armed forces would quickly lose momentum, the Ukrainian resistance also surprised them. In the past few weeks, we have even seen the conflict intensify with Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom quickly providing weapons, promising to send 49 battle tanks to Ukrainian forces.David Brown, Jake Horton and Tural Ahmedzade, “Ukraine weapons: What tanks and other equipment are the world giving?”, BBC News, 17 February 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62002218 In addition, Ukrainian intelligence services estimate that Russian forces have more than 320,000 troops within Ukraine’s borders, roughly the equivalent of the number of troops drafted by President Vladimir Putin in September 2022.Erin Cunningham, Whitney Juckno, Victoria Bisset et al., “Ukraine live briefing: Ukrainian troops advance on Kherson with caution; U.S. to send more air defenses”, The Washington Post, … Continue reading According to military analyses, Russia still has somewhere between 150,000 to 200,000 additional reserve troops available.Marc Santora et Michael Schwirtz, “Russia-Ukraine War – Ukraine carries out wide anticorruption raids ahead of visit from E.U. leaders”, The New York Times, … Continue reading This figure does not include the 50,000 mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a private military organisation that belongs to oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of Putin’s closest advisors.
While the use of a private militia in an armed conflict is not considered a crime according to international humanitarian law (IHL),Médecins Sans Frontières, The practical Guide to Humanitarian Law, https://guide-humanitarian-law.org/content/article/3/mercenaries the presence of mercenaries always represents an additional risk due to their ambiguous legal status,Hala A. Mohammed AL Doory, “Mercenaries in international humanitarian law”, College of Basic Education Research Journal, vol. 16, no. 3, 2020 pp. 569–596. not to mention the fact that they often disregard the “rules of armed conflict.” The Wagner Group has specifically been accused of war crimes in a variety of conflicts, such as rape in the Central African Republic, and for planting landmines and other improvised explosive devices around Tripoli, Libya.“What is Russia’s Wagner Group of mercenaries in Ukraine?”, BBC News, 23 January 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60947877 In Ukraine, their troops are suspected of torturing and assassinating civilians.
Eastern Ukraine: fierce fighting continues
Once Ukrainian forces retook the city of Kherson last October, after nine months of occupation by the Russian army, the warfronts moved to the Donetsk region, in the northeastern part of the country,Josh Holder, “Maps: Tracking the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, The New York Times, 25 January 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/world/europe/ukraine-maps.html where most of the Wagner Group’s troops are located. The most recent major battle took place in the mining town of Soledar, which Russian forces took in January of this year,Will Vernon et Paul Kirby, “Soledar: Russia claims victory in battle for Ukraine salt mine town”, BBC News, 13 January 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64263119 bringing the war ever-closer to the city of Bakhmut, with its tens of thousands of inhabitants. In the southeast, combat in the region around Kherson has caused considerable damage to civilian infrastructure such as schools, community centres, and medical facilities. Throughout the country, aerial attacks continue, often targeting energy infrastructure, significantly hindering humanitarian workers on the ground.OCHA, Ukraine: Situation report, 19 December 2022, https://reliefweb.int/report/ukraine/ukraine-situation-report-19-dec-2022-enruuk
The international community has criticised several missile strikes since the beginning of the Russian invasion due to an attack strategy directed at both military and civilian targets. On 15 January 2023, the city of Dnipro endured one of the deadliest attacks since September 2022, which killed more than 45 civilians, including 6 children.Hanna Arhirova, “Russian strike toll: 45 dead civilians, including 6 children”, AP News, 18 January 2023, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-war-apartment-strike-death-toll … Continue reading Note that certain aerial strikes, such as the one in March 2022 on the theatre in Mariupol sheltering children, are currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague as war crimes.« Conflit Russie – Ukraine : de quels crimes de guerre la Russie est-elle accusée ? » BBC News Afrique, 18 novembre 2022, https://www.bbc.com/afrique/monde-63652348 Recent reports also highlight several human rights violations committed by Russian troops, especially at medical facilities, and against both healthcare personnel and patients.Ed Holt, “Destruction of Ukraine’s healthcare facilities violates international humanitarian law”, OCHA, Report”, 27 January 2023, … Continue reading In addition, it should be noted that the Ukrainian government has also been accused of crimes and international humanitarian law violations: the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Ukrainian authorities to investigate potential “war crimes” committed against Russian prisoners.« Des crimes de guerre auraient aussi été commis par des soldats ukrainiens », RTS Info, 8 avril 2022, … Continue reading
Civilian infrastructure severely impacted
Targeting the healthcare system
The World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Kiev estimates that since the fighting began, more than 700 medical facilities have been destroyed or severely damaged, and were deliberately targeted.Lisa Schlein, “WHO: Russian attacks on Ukraine infrastructure target critical health care”, VOA, 20 December 2022, … Continue reading Several attacks specifically targeting healthcare centres have made work difficult for local and international humanitarian organisations trying to mitigate the damage caused. Mariupol is a prime example of the severity of the situation. According to the Ukrainian Centre for Health, more than 80% of the medical facilities in the city have been damaged or destroyed since the Russian invasion. In this situation, it is impossible to provide the local population with basic care in spite of the pressing need. In addition, the destruction of the system makes it impossible to provide regular medical care, especially treatment for patients who require long-term or long-stay care. Specialised care, like mental health or maternity care, are almost completely unavailable in Mariupol.Ed Holt, “Destruction of Ukraine’s healthcare facilities…”, art. cit.
The conflict has also interrupted the supply chain for medical equipment, with a significant portion of the country’s road infrastructure destroyed: by June 2022, just 100 days after the beginning of the conflict, more than 24,000 km of roads and 300 bridges had been destroyed.“During 100 days of war, Russians have destroyed 24,000 km of roads and 300 bridges in Ukraine”, Ukrainska Pravda, 3 June 2022, https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2022/06/3/7350285 Currently, the appalling state of the road system is worsened by freezing temperatures that slow traffic and increase risk for the supply chains and the transportation of goods for the civilian population.
The power grid under attack by the Russian army and the associated risks in winter
The repeated attacks on Ukraine’s power grid have caused many problems providing electricity and heating to just about everywhere in the country, including to hospitals and medical centres.Thomas Popik, “Ukraine’s coming electricity crisis. How to protect the grid from Russian attacks”, Foreign Affairs, 3 February 2023, … Continue reading By November 2022, more than half of the critical power grid infrastructure in Ukraine had been damaged,OCHA, “Humanitarian organizations condemn continued attacks on civilian infrastructure leaving people in Ukraine without water, electricity and heating in freezing temperatures”, 25 November … Continue reading making it difficult to supply the population with water. The repeated attacks in October damaged more than 40% of all power plants and electricity-providing facilities in Ukraine, causing temporary power outages throughout the country.PAX Environment and Conflict Alert Ukraine, Risks and impacts from attacks on energy infrastructure in Ukraine, December 2022, … Continue reading The international community condemned these attacks that infringe upon international humanitarian law and have caused the displacement of more than 14.4 million Ukrainians who left their homes to seek shelter in heated facilities.OCHA, “Targeting of Ukraine energy infrastructure may provoke second wave of refugee crisis”, 13 December 2022, … Continue reading However, according to the latest International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates (from the most recent January 2023 survey), in spite of frigid temperatures and the energy crisis, the initially feared huge wave of displacement did not occur: only 7% of the people surveyed had plans to leave their homes in search of shelter with heating.Organisation internationale pour les migrations, Ukraine – Internal Displacement Report – General Population Survey Round 12, Janvier 2023, … Continue reading
Yet, humanitarian organisations must operate winterisation programs to meet people’s needs in terms of clothing and blankets, heating and gas, shelter, insulation and repairs, water, carbon monoxide monitoring, and building materials.ACAPS, UKRAINE – Overview of winterisation needs and response, 29 August 2022, … Continue reading The people most affected by the conflict are those living in rural areas, senior citizens, persons with reduced mobility, those taking refuge in temporary collective shelters, those living in war-damaged areas, and all those people whose means of subsistence and income were hit hard by the conflict.Ibid.
This winter, the frequent power outages have had a significant impact on the ability to provide humanitarian assistance for civilians living in Ukraine, especially for internally displaced people. Humanitarian organisations face major challenges in urban areas where they have to address individual (food, shelter, hygiene, etc.) and collective needs due to damage to the electric, water, heating, and telecommunications infrastructure.François Grünewald, Évaluation en temps réel de la réponse humanitaire à la crise liée à la guerre en Ukraine, 24 juillet – 18 août 2022, Groupe URD, août 2022, … Continue reading Power outages prevent facilities like schools and clinics from opening, blocking the population’s access to essential services.Amnesty, “Ukraine: Devastating power cuts undermining civilian life as Christmas approaches”, 21 December 2022, … Continue reading
In addition, experts estimate that the collapse of the power grid will considerably impact the food supply chain, and likely increase the number of civilian casualties. The food shortage caused by the breakdown in world markets due to the Ukrainian crisis could have serious consequences world-wide. Some even suggest that the conflict in Ukraine, which has caused a food supply shortage and a price increase in basic foodstuffs around the planet, could have a significant impact on the food security of 1.7 billion people; 275 million people could potentially suffer a severe famine.Faqin Lin, Xuecao Li, Ningyuan Jia et al., “The impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict on global food security”, Global Food Security, vol. 36, March 2023. We must also consider the ever-present threat of a nuclear incident whose consequences are impossible to evaluate.Thomas Popik, “Ukraine’s coming electricity crisis…”, art. cit.
More than 13 million refugees: gender and intersectionality issues
According to the most recent surveys conducted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 31 January, more than 13 million people have crossed the Ukrainian border.Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, 14 février 2023, art. cit. Ce nombre exclut les personnes déplacées internes que le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge estime à plusieurs … Continue reading At the beginning of the conflict, the United Nations predicted a worst-case scenario of 5 million refugees.Tim Gosling, “Central Europe braces for an influx of Ukrainian refugees. Poland, Slovakia and other states are ready to welcome Ukrainians fleeing tensions with Russia”, Al Jazeera, 22 February … Continue reading One year later, this figure was clearly underestimated, and the intensification of Russian attacks means that a portion of the Ukrainian population will continue to seek refuge in Europe.
Even with a slight decrease in the number of refugees observed in recent months, the conflict is still considered a level-3 emergency (i.e., the highest crisis level) by UNHCR.WHO Foundation, « L’OMS lance un appel d’urgence pour l’Ukraine », https://www.unhcr.org/fr/urgence-ukraine.html Internally displaced people and refugees have critical needs in terms of housing and cash. Several analyses and reports have highlighted the gender and intersectional crisis in Ukraine and the situation for Ukrainian refugees.UN Women and CARE International, Rapid gender analysis of Ukraine: Secondary data review, March 2022, https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/2022-03/RGA%20Ukraine-SDR%20Full%20Report_0.pdf In spite of the commitments made by the European Union as part of the directive to provide temporary protection, many refugees are having a hard time gaining employment in their host country. This is especially the case for women with young children; they are struggling to find the right situation that allows them to look for work while taking the language classes they need to facilitate their integration.Rick Noack, Meg Kelly, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff et al., “How the E.U. has fallen short on promises to Ukrainian refugees”, The Washington Post, 26 October 2022, … Continue reading Ukrainian women and girls who are refugees or internally displaced bear the burden of care, and face a lack of job security, often forcing them to accept informal employment, which increases the risk of exploitation, forced sex work, or human trafficking.Pat Cox, Sarah Neal, Jane March-McDonald et al., “Sexual and reproductive health rights of Ukraine’s young sanctuary seekers: Can we pre-empt risks and uncertainty?”, Journal of Child Health … Continue reading From January to June 2022, the national prevention hotline for domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexism received 17,032 calls, of which 75% were made by women and girls.Ariadna Capasso, Halyna Skipalska, Jaime Nadal et al., “Lessons from the field: Recommendations for gender-based violence prevention and treatment for displaced women in conflict-affected … Continue reading In addition, one internally displaced woman in five has been the victim of physical abuse and violence by armed men. These violent acts, not limited to Russian soldiers, constitute war crimes.Human Rights Watch, Ukraine: apparent war crimes in Russia-controlled areas. Summary executions, other grave abuses by Russian forces, 3 April 2022, … Continue reading Thankfully, at the end of 2022, 101 mobile brigades providing support services for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) were mobilised in Ukraine to provide psychological and social care.Rosemary Morgan, Lillian Asiimwe, Amanda L. Ager et al., “Rehabilitation services must include support for sexual and gender-based violence survivors in Ukraine and other war – and … Continue reading
The displacement of women and children, who represent 85% of the people displaced,Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, 14 février 2023, art. cit. (https://data.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine) : il est toujours illégal pour les hommes ukrainiens âgés entre 18 et 60 … Continue reading will have a significant impact on Ukraine’sMansur Mirovalev, “In the grips of war, Ukraine faces bleak demographic future. The refugee crisis is exacerbating Ukraine’s irreversible demographic decline, which began in the Soviet era”, Al … Continue reading demographics, and should be considered an imperative when the conflict finally comes to an end. In addition, Ukrainian children, whether they have left the country or not, are having trouble accessing the education system. UNICEF reports that the education for 5 million children has been affected by the conflict.Nations Unies, La guerre en Ukraine a affecté l’éducation de plus de 5 millions d’enfants – UNICEF, 24 January 2023, https://news.un.org/fr/story/2023/01/1131602 Two child refugees in three are no longer registered for school,Unicef, 11 months of war in Ukraine have disrupted education for more than five million children. On International Day of Education, UNICEF calls for increased support to ensure learning … Continue reading and aerial attacks on schools and frequent power outages severely limit access to a decent education.Unicef, Ukraine war response: Ensuring access to learning. Ensuring Ukrainian children keep learning can mean the difference between hope and despair, 1 September 2022, … Continue reading It is also important to consider the mental health risks, as the current situation poses a huge problem for the Ukrainian population. The continued conflict runs the risk of creating chronic and general psychological trauma throughout the population, especially within groups and communities who are particularly vulnerable and often the targets of discrimination.CARE International, Six months on in Ukraine: Brutal mental health toll must not be overlooked, warns CARE, 24 August 2022, … Continue reading This does not include “vicarious trauma” and compassion fatigue among humanitarian workers providing assistance to these communities.
In addition, the major disruption in healthcare services, especially for sexual and reproductive health (SRH), affects primarily women and girls, the LGBTQIA community, and people living with HIV or a handicap. Whether in Ukraine or certain host countries, access to healthcare services like abortion, hormone therapy, and antiretroviral therapy is limited or even impossible.Commissaire aux droits de l’Homme, Les personnes LGBTI touchées par la guerre en Ukraine ont besoin de protection, 17 mai 2022, … Continue reading In Ukraine, cases of discrimination, violence, and withholding care as symbolic punishment for people of Russian origin living with HIV have been reported. Several people living with a handicap, cut off from their community, risk being abandoned by the State.Eszter Kismödi et Emma Pitchforth, “Sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice in the war against Ukraine”, Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, vol. 30, no. 1, 2022, pp. 1–5
LGBTQIA, minorities, and Roma refugees, frequently face racial, xenophobic, homophobic, and transgender discrimination and violence, and have trouble crossing borders and gaining access to support resources.Oxfam International, Roma refugees from Ukraine face Europe’s coming winter with added burden of hostility and discrimination, 26 October 2022, … Continue reading Same sex couples and transgender individuals are very often subjected to discrimination since their family status or gender identity are not always recognised.Shevtsova, M. (2022) Choosing to stay? Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people and the war in Ukraine, European Journal of Politics and Gender, 5(3), 399–401. … Continue reading In addition, citizens of African or Asian origin have had to escape on foot after being kicked off mechanised means of transportation. Once at the border, they have been forced to wait in the freezing cold for people with Ukrainian nationality (meaning “white”) to cross first, often with little water, food, or blankets. This racism is also visible in the media coverage, which focuses on the whiteness of Ukrainian refugees.Simar S. Bajaj et Fatima Cody Stanford, “The Ukrainian refugee crisis and the pathology of racism”, BMJ, 11 March 2022 ; Heather Chen, “Critics Call Out ‘Racist’ Western Coverage of … Continue reading Similarly, the Roma population faces significant antiziganism in Ukrainian society, and Roma refugees have testified to living in filthy, crowded, unsafe conditions not suitable for people with a handicap and with very limited access to electricity, heating, drinking water, and education for their children.Ivana Cottasová, “‘You are not a refugee.’ Roma refugees fleeing war in Ukraine say they are suffering discrimination and prejudice”, CNN, 7 August 2022, … Continue reading The lack of vital records is an ongoing issue that affects thousands of Roma people without documentation,Betsy Joles, “Roma refugees who fled from Ukraine to Moldova are now in limbo”, NPR, 21 May 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/05/21/1098489307/roma-refugees-moldova-ukraine-war limiting their access to resources and their ability to migrate.
As the war continues, the situation in Europe has evolved to adjust to the crisis. At present, Poland has welcomed more than 1.5 million refugees within its borders. The Polish government recently amended a special law with regard to providing assistance to Ukrainians: starting on March 1, 2023, it will require that refugees staying in Poland for more than 120 days to cover 50% of their expenses in collective housing.International Rescue Committee, Poland: Amendments to Ukrainian refugee hosting laws showcase the need for continued humanitarian support, 27 January 2023, … Continue reading The fact is that surrounding countries are also placed in a difficult situation. As inflation rises throughout Europe, and local populations struggle more and more with the increase in the cost of living, the ability of EU countries to host Ukrainian refugees has become much more uncertain.Catherine E. de Vries et Isabell Hoffmann, “Under pressure: The war in Ukraine and European public opinion”, Eupinions, 5 October 2022, https://eupinions.eu/de/text/under-pressure This has forced humanitarian organisations to continue to petition governments to follow through with their commitments. Among EU countries, Germany has the second largest number of Ukrainian refugees, with more than one million people registered as of 31 January 2023. France counted 118,994 refugees as of 31 October 2022.Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, 14 février 2023, https://data.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine
In terms of funding, in 2022, sources estimate that humanitarian needs rose to 4.3 billion dollars and that only 3.4 billion dollars has been sent, representing a gap of almost 12%.OCHA, Ukraine Flash Appeal 2022, 2022, https://fts.unocha.org/appeals/1102/summary The largest bilateral donors have been, until now, the United States (36.7%), the European Commission (10.8%), and Germany (10.1%).Ibid. According to the Financial Tracking Service, the countries that follow are the United Kingdom (2.7%) including its Disasters Emergency Committee (3.9%), Canada (4.5%), Japan (3.5%), France (2.3%), and Norway (2.3%).Ibid. In addition, even though difficult to quantify, Ukrainians abroad have provided considerable monetary and material assistance. Groupe URD has observed a drop in assistance since last July.François Grünewald, La réponse humanitaire en Ukraine : « nos » principes et schémas revisités, Groupe URD, 13 décembre 2022, … Continue reading The most recent assessment conducted by OCHA in February 2023 reports that 17.7 million people need urgent humanitarian aid, and that approximately 15.8 million had received some aid in December 2022.OCHA, Ukraine humanitarian response – Key achievements in 2022, 10 February 2023, https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/ukraine In spite of an unclear portrait of the situation with regard to the international presence, the most urgent needs for clusters are water, protection, and healthcare.OCHA, Ukraine 2022 flash appeal: Estimated number of people reached as of 31 December 2022, 10 January 2023, … Continue reading
For 2023, the UN estimates that the humanitarian needs will rise to 5.6 billion dollars in funding for 11.1 million people in Ukraine and approximately 4.2 million refugees in Europe, especially in Poland – the country hosting the largest number of refugees – and in Moldova where they traverse.Nations Unies, Guerre en Ukraine : 5,6 milliards de dollars sont nécessaires pour répondre aux besoins humanitaires, selon l’ONU, 15 février 2023, https://news.un.org/fr/story/2023/02/1132297 This year, in the humanitarian response plan, the sectors with the highest needs are food security and subsistence needs, multi-purpose cash transfers, shelters, and non-food items.OCHA, UN Business Brief: Ukraine humanitarian crisis, February 2023, https://reliefweb.int/report/ukraine/un-business-brief-ukraine-humanitarian-crisis-february-2023 Regional response plans for refugees confirm that the most important areas in 2023 will be basic needs, protection, subsistence needs, and economic inclusion.Ibid.
Several humanitarian organisations indicate being overwhelmed by the sheer extent of the needs to address, and recognise that multi-purpose cash transfer programs are the most effective. However, international lenders have established conditions for funding that are too strict and unrealistic timeframes, which explains why humanitarian organisations are having a hard time prioritising needs on the ground. They distribute -without differentiating or prioritising – foodstuffs and non-food items to provide aid as quickly as possible, as per the demands of lenders and to comply with the expiration dates of many products.Corinne Redfern, “One year on, Ukraine exposes the limits of well-funded international aid”, The New Humanitarian, 14 February 2023, … Continue reading There has been criticism, for example, of medicine being stored in warehouses in Europe for months and being sent too late to its target destination, causing unnecessary waste in addition to failing to satisfy a critical need on the ground. Other criticisms include the lack of budget flexibility for international NGOs, such as those that provided thin, cheap blankets for the cold winter months, since they were unable to adjust their budgets in time.Ibid.
It is also important to note that a good portion of the international aid provided to Ukraine has been directed towards military assistance. According to an update in November, while 16.76 billion euros in humanitarian aid has been promised to Ukraine, more than double that amount, 37.87 billion euros,Arianna Antezza, André Frank, Pascal Frank et al., The Ukraine Support Tracker: Which countries help Ukraine and how?, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, 18 August 2022, … Continue reading has been allocated to military assistance. The United States remains Ukraine’s largest donor, having provided a total aid package of 47.83 billion euros according to the figures from the November 2022 update.Ibid. In addition, loans represent a significant portion of the aid provided to Ukraine. With an inflation rate of 26%, interest rates at 25%, and an almost 33% drop in GDP in 2022, this debt runs the risk of throwing the country into a severe economic crisis, seriously hindering its ability to rebuild and any efforts to grow the economy.Eoin Drea, “The EU is leading Ukraine into a sovereign debt crisis”, Politico, 23 January 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/european-union-ukraine-war-debt-crisis-aid-loans-18-billion Dorota … Continue reading
A conflict beyond the borders
We know that the effects of this war extend far beyond Ukraine. The impact it has had on supply chains represents one of the major issues of this conflict. While the Russian Federation was the main natural gas provider for Europe, with exports covering 40% of the latter’s needs, Ukraine was an important farming country. In 2021, with corn exports estimated at 27.2 million metric tonnes, and wheat exports estimated at 21.2 metric tonnes, Ukraine represented one of the world’s largest grain exporters.Agnieszka Maciejewska and Katarzyna Skrzypek, “Ukraine agriculture exports – what is at stake in the light of invasion?”, S&P Global Market Intelligence, 7 March 2022, … Continue reading After the Russian invasion and losing access to the ports along the Black Sea, the country’s exports have significantly dropped, creating a global food crisis, in spite of an agreement made between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations to allow grain exports to continue.Julia Horowitz, “Russia’s war in Ukraine sparked a historic food crisis. It’s not over”, CNN, 17 January 2023, https://edition.cnn.com/2023/01/15/business/global-food-crisis-davos/index.html
Localisation of humanitarian aid
Important players from the Ukrainian civil society, represented by local non-governmental organisations, non-profits, churches, volunteer groups, and other organisations, are more mobilised and dynamic than ever to provide support to national and local initiatives.François Grünewald, Évaluation en temps réel de la réponse humanitaire…, op. cit. The same goes for several civil society organisations in host countries, especially feminist, LGBTQIA+, and Roma organisationsCARE, Six months on in Ukraine: Local and national women’s organizations are leading the response to the conflict but are side-lined by humanitarian actors, CARE International, 24 August 2022, … Continue reading that provide support to those populations who are most vulnerable and the target of discrimination. In addition, we have noted the effectiveness of local governments in the humanitarian effort. In the war zone, they play a primary role in receiving and distributing humanitarian aid, as well as organising collective transportation, repairing water, power, and gas distribution systems to address the need for heating during the winter monthsFrançois Grünewald, Évaluation en temps réel de la réponse humanitaire…, op. cit.. In a decentralised manner, for internally displaced people and refugees, local governments have addressed the need for long-term housing and handled all other aspects for hosting them. Ukrainian solidarity networks have collected and distributed most of the humanitarian aid with support from certain churches and a few international organisations like CARITAS.Ibid.
Recognising the effectiveness of the Ukrainian civil society, certain Ukrainian and international organisations have warned against the globalisation of the humanitarian response in the country. The risk would be to undermine the local ability to deal with the situation, and many understand that at some point international organisations might have to pull out.Nicholas Noe, Localizing the international humanitarian response in Ukraine, Refugees International, 9 September 2022, … Continue reading A more tangible local aid strategy should be developed, especially a progressive transfer of funding to local entities and direct beneficiaries, in addition to reinforcing the ability of local stakeholders to receive aid. For the time being, the process to request funding is considered slow and complicated by local NGOs, so much so that several organisations do not have access to the funds made available, which means that too many people are not receiving the critical help they need.Corinne Redfern, “One year on, Ukraine exposes the limits of…”, art. cit. Everyone should be made aware of the important role that local organisations play and that the risks they take on a daily basis is what allow, in large part, international organisations to provide aid.Ibid.