Is Ukraine’s aid bonanza coming at the expense of other crises?

Alexander, J. and Rozzelle, J.
Publication language
Date published
24 Mar 2022
Conflict, violence & peace, Development & humanitarian aid

As near-record levels of funding fill the coffers of the Ukrainian aid response, humanitarian insiders worry that resources may be diverted from other crises that are receiving scant attention and remain badly underfunded – from Afghanistan to Yemen to the Horn of Africa.

Numerous factors are contributing to the unusually generous outpouring for Ukraine: the huge geopolitical significance and economic fallout of the Russian invasion; the sheer speed and scale of the displacement crisis; not to mention the 24/7, wall-to-wall media coverage.

But some also see double standards, even elements of racism, in the lopsided levels of assistance going to Ukraine compared to other crises raging around the world.

Meanwhile, those coordinating international aid efforts are confronted by a growing gap between funding and needs, a bleak donor outlook, and the risk that the war in Ukraine is turbocharging a global food and cost-of-living crisis.

The United States announced on 24 March that it is donating $1 billion to help countries in Europe absorb refugees from Ukraine. That’s on top of the $1.5 billion pledged by donor states to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries at a funding conference earlier this month. "This is among the fastest and most generous responses a humanitarian flash appeal has ever received," UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists after the Geneva gathering. 

That outcome sits in stark contrast to last week’s pledging conference for Yemen, where donors raised less than a third of the $4.3 billion the UN deemed necessary to respond to one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian emergencies.