It is less than a year since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 but the ongoing war has resulted in over 7.7 million refugees. The response from the international community has been remarkable with the delivery of humanitarian and financial assistance and beyond. However, the donor funds diverted from aid projects to help Ukraine may put other developing countries in jeopardy. Will international aid distribution be different in 2023? Let’s see what some experts have to say in this regard.
DevelopmentAid: How do you see the pattern of foreign aid distribution in 2023? Will funds be diverted from the Ukrainian crisis to other urgent crisis or will this trend continue?
“Before we try to analyze the distribution of humanitarian aid and the distribution of funding for humanitarian crises around the world, we have to understand the political situation specific to each region, which directly or indirectly affects the crisis in that region. It is also no secret that decisions about distributing grants and funding are directly or indirectly linked to political equations. And as is also known, the most prominent donors are the United States and the European Union (collectively or in the form of individual countries). The Ukrainian crisis touches Europe directly, and the U.S. indirectly. Ukraine is located on the eastern border of the EU and is the first line of defense against Russian expansion. Even if Ukraine is not a member of the EU, European politicians know that the fall of Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion means opening the way for Russian expansion to the old continent, and this they and their U.S. allies cannot allow. I think this situation will lead, directly or indirectly, to the continuation of the generous funding provided to Ukraine in order to preserve the Ukrainian human element within the Ukrainian territory and to provide them with reasons to stay in order to unite ranks in the face of the Russian invasion. That implies a decrease in support for other crises on other continents, of less geopolitical interest than the Ukrainian one.”
“2023 looks to be the most challenging year of this century so far, and I hope it will pave the way for the innovation and rationalization it needs. While the humanitarian need is increasing throughout the world, the funding gap is also expanding. For example, Bangladesh is at the forefront of the effects of climate change, half of its population already lives in acute poverty while the country has also sheltered 900,000 Rohingya refugees with the support of the UN since 2017. However, the pledged US$881 million for the response fell short by US$504 million in 2022, and there will be an even bigger hole in funding next year, as there will be in Africa, Yemen and Afghanistan responses too. The Ukraine crisis has diverted attention from other situations in the world. The hope is that when the donor community spells out its preferences, innovation has to come for new ways of responding in a more localized fashion. Humanity will not fail, but it will set a new precedence for humanitarian actors. However, when that happens through localised actions, there might be sharp rises in protection issues due to shortfall of capacity or due to cutting corners to match the aid.”
“The controversy over “aid darlings” is not new. Providing significant amounts of development assistance to certain countries for the sake of others has been a reality for decades. The crisis in Ukraine has just made this situation more visible for the international community since this is happening in the middle of Europe. Nevertheless, as a military stalemate becomes a reality, coupled with the negative economic outlook in the U.S. and the Euro Zone, I do not expect donors to sustain their current level of assistance for Kiev. In this sense, I foresee a decline in the total volume of aid in 2023, yet the distribution will probably continue to favor Ukraine although not to the current extent.”
“I think funding will decrease because the top donors are strained financially and are aware that their money does not bring tangible results. For example, despite the outpouring of funds in Yemen from 2011 to 2017/2018, the humanitarian crisis was only exacerbated.”
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