The global repercussions of the Ukraine crisis ―already being felt in fast-rising food, commodity and energy prices― could undermine official aid efforts to help people in other humanitarian hot-spots.
Oxfam is concerned that some donor governments are already shifting aid budgets to pay for Ukrainian assistance and the costs of hosting more than 3 million people who have fled recently. Others are holding back funding approvals for other crises. Oxfam urges donors to meet Ukraine’s needs with new funding.
- Amid the generous public outpouring of support in Europe and beyond, Oxfam applauds Spain, the Netherlands and France for new funding to support refugees from Ukraine and is calling on them to publicly confirm these funds will be additional to their other humanitarian budget lines.
- Italy has said it will refund the €110 million allocated from its existing aid budget for refugees from Ukraine, but no official commitment has yet been made.
- The UK government has matched a public appeal with £25m ―its largest ever donation― and opened a scheme to reimburse families who volunteer to house Ukrainian refugees.
- Nordic donors have pledged €300 million for Ukraine ―most of it by Norway― but if Norway’s contribution is not made additional this will claim almost 40 percent of Norway’s combined humanitarian aid budget and force deep cuts elsewhere.
- Sweden has allocated new funds but there are fears that its aid budget could be “adjusted” ahead rather than additional resources being found.
- Denmark has confirmed its support will come out of its existing aid budget with its Minister for Development warning of “some tough choices and reprioritization” ―likely delaying or cancelling programs in other crisis responses.
- Oxfam is aware that the EU has more than halved its humanitarian funding to Timor-Leste, for example, and that some donors have indicated that they will cut their ODA to Burkina Faso by 70 percent, with other West African countries hearing similar news.
- German donors have indicated they cannot decide on pending funding proposals until decisions on Ukraine have been taken, which risks humanitarian assistance in other parts of the world.
Europe has a spotted track record. In 2015 ―when half as many refugees made their way to Europe from Syria and beyond― donor countries responded by counting on average 11 percent ($15.4 billion) of their aid commitments to pay to support them.
“We must avoid a repeat where some rich countries end up effectively spending their aid budgets domestically,” said Head of Oxfam EU Office, Evelien Van Roemburg. She noted that only 3 percent of funds have so far been given to the UN’s $6 billion appeal to relieve widespread hunger happening now in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan.
“The people of Yemen and Syria, all those millions now facing desperate hunger across East and West Africa, those still in camps in Bangladesh and beyond, those hit hardest by COVID and climate change ―they must not be penalized and left paying the price of our duty of care toward the people of Ukraine”.
“We get it that governments’ aid budgets are finite and they need to make tough choices, but rather than cutting life-lines to other crises, we need to get creative. Every day now we hear of super-yachts and mansions being seized. Every day, billionaires of all nationalities are growing obscenely from speculation, tax dodging and skyrocketing corporate profits and share prices. After rightfully spending trillions to save their economies from the impacts of COVID-19, we reject any assertion that helping a refugee from Ukraine or a hungry Somalian farmer is a choice,” Van Roemburg said.
“Well done to those donors doing the right thing. Let’s help and support all people in need by those who can afford it, as we redouble efforts to stop conflict and climate change and rebuild a global food system,” she said.