• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Generous aid to Ukraine diverts resources from other refugee crises around the world

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Nov 4, 2022

(The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit source of news, analysis, and commentary from academic experts.)

(THE CONVERSATION) Nearly 10 months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the ongoing war has produced more than 7.7 million refugees.

Another seven million Ukrainians have lost their homes and face severe shortages of food, water, shelter and other basic needs.

Although the delivery of humanitarian aid has suffered from Russian airstrikes and the disruption of commercial supply lines, the international response to the Ukrainian crisis has been remarkable.

Since January 2022, the US government, for example, has committed more than $18.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including about $17.6 billion for training and equipping forces. Ukrainian armies.

The humanitarian response – including policies for the absorption of Ukrainian refugees and the provision of emergency relief – has also been remarkable. The 2022 “Stand Up for Ukraine” global giving campaign raised $8.9 billion.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “This is one of the quickest and most generous responses a humanitarian flash appeal has ever received.”

A protracted refugee crisis in Bangladesh

The international attention on Ukraine comes at a time when other humanitarian crises around the world are receiving less attention and assistance than they need.

As a specialist in refugees and forced displacement, I spent the summer of 2022 studying changes in Bangladesh’s policies towards the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group.

Since 2017, in what has been recognized as the fastest and largest influx of refugees since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, more than 773,000 Rohingya have crossed the border into neighboring Bangladesh to flee the government’s genocidal campaign. Myanmar against them.

Over a million Rohingya currently live in the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh, where there are issues of overcrowding, insecurity and violence.

My interviews with national and international NGOs and camp administrators revealed growing concern about continued financial and social pressures on Bangladesh as one of the world’s largest hosts of refugees.

They also revealed concerns that the Ukraine crisis could divert attention and financial aid away from the protracted situation of the Rohingya.

Despite the cost of housing over a million Rohingya in Bangladesh costing $1.21 billion a year, the Rohingya crisis has never received enough financial relief. Instead, the amount of aid has decreased over time.

In 2020, donors provided only 65% ​​of the required funding, compared to around 72% to 75% two years earlier.

In 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reduced its funding expectations for the Rohingya in Bangladesh. The 2022 Rohingya Refugee Crisis Joint Response Plan requested approximately $881 million to support refugees. To date, Bangladesh has received 32.9%, or about $290 million.

“It’s hard to bring the world’s attention to…those places where children are suffering in the same way Ukrainian children are suffering,” Gregory Ramm, spokesman for international charity Save the Children, said in April. 2022.

“Help cancelled”

Funding for further protracted crises in 2022 appears to coincide with overwhelming political interest in Ukraine and pledges for Ukraine.

For example, while the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 has been very well funded, at 112.8%, so far this year it has only received 45.6% of its appeal.

At the 2022 international donors’ conference on Yemen – a country of 23.4 million people in dire crisis of war and famine – the United Nations appealed for $4.3 billion for aid humanitarian. World leaders have offered less than a third of that.

This so-called “aid vacuum” is also growing in Myanmar, the Sahel and Ethiopia.

The European Commissioner for Crisis Management had explicitly stated that the European Commission would not withdraw funds from other crises around the world as it responded to the conflict in Ukraine. Other EU ministers have made similar commitments.

But some EU member states have already started embezzling funds, real-time aid data shows. For example, Sweden and Denmark have announced cuts to other aid priorities equivalent to 14% and 10% of their respective aid budgets for 2021. Sweden has already reallocated 150,000 Sri Lankan dollars. Lanka – where millions of people face poverty as a result of its severe economic crisis and political turmoil since March 2022 – to Ukraine. Denmark announced that it would defer development aid it had earmarked for Syria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Bangladesh to finance the reception of Ukrainians on the run.

The UK recently announced that it would end all “non-essential” aid spending. It is estimated that this could lead to a 25% reduction in the expenditure budget with further reductions in aid to countries such as Sudan and Syria on top of those already implemented since 2020. Germany has shown a trend similar.

Excluding generous support for Ukraine, the United States also cut its humanitarian budget by $1 billion from 2021.

International aid crisis

Even before the current crisis in Ukraine, the gap between global humanitarian needs and the funding needed to meet them was widening.

In the West Bank and Gaza, essential programs have already been halted and food rations have been drastically reduced in Yemen.

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated pre-existing humanitarian crises and increased funding needs. Yet in its 2021 humanitarian appeal, the UN received less than half of the requested funding.

This funding gap is all the more glaring as the number of people without food, clean water, shelter and medical care has exceeded 300 million, according to the World Humanitarian Report 2022. The number is 90 million more than before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Humanitarian experts have expressed concern that the overwhelming focus on Ukraine is diverting resources – both financial and human – from other crises that are already facing unprecedented funding shortages.

The war in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia have also fueled a shortage in global food production and a spike in global food and energy prices. These spikes are already affecting the delivery of emergency aid and food shortages in several conflict-affected contexts, as well as in major refugee-hosting countries such as Bangladesh.

As attention and support for Ukraine continues, the impact of the war as well as other crises – economic, political and environmental – in places like the Horn of Africa continue to have effects devastating to the lives of civilians.

The Norwegian Refugee Council noted: “The war in Ukraine has highlighted the huge gap between what is possible when the international community rallies behind a crisis and the daily reality for the millions of people who suffer far from the spotlight. .

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/generous-aid-to-ukraine-is-diverting-resources-away-from-other-refugee-crises-around-the-world-190961.