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Aid vs. solidarity: the role of humanitarian aid in national responses to Ukrainian refugees

Time (GMT +01) 14:00 15:00
Hero image description: Moldova - refugees fleeing the military offensive in Ukraine Image credit:Moldova - refugees fleeing the military offensive in Ukraine. Credit: UN Women Image license:Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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6 million Ukrainians have fled their country since the Russian invasion of February 2022. A majority have been hosted in neighbouring countries, where governments have been quick to mobilise to receive and support refugees. Civil society groups in hosting countries have also been fast in mobilising emergency support for refugees. The EU has activated a Temporary Protection Mechanism by which Ukrainian refugees in any EU country receive temporary residency as well as access to jobs and services for a year. Refugee hosting governments have received approximately 12 billions in macro-economic support and budgetary support from the EU, the IFIs and bilateral governments.

In parallel, international humanitarian NGOs and UN agencies have flocked to the region, fuelled by generous funding from Western governments and donations from the public. The traditional international humanitarian architecture to help refugees has been activated under the coordination of UNHCR and a Refugee Response Plan launched, with a price tag of $1.85bn, nominally in support of host governments, which is dwarfed by direct support to refugee-hosting governments.

Is humanitarian funding an appropriate aid instrument in high-income (upper- middle income in the case of Moldova) countries that are receiving additional budget support? Could it divert resources from poorer countries in crisis? To what extent is the international humanitarian effort using and strengthening national systems and local aid groups, in accordance with international commitments to support refugee hosting states  and to localise humanitarian aid. The Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG), supported by the British Red Cross, will bring together an expert panel to examine these questions.