Humanitarian assistance to Ukraine – how will it be used?

Updated 6 April

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Norway has allocated NOK 2 billion to humanitarian efforts and assistance to refugees in connection with the crisis in Ukraine. Approximately NOK 1,3 billion has already been disbursed.

‘Russia’s attack is having a severe impact on Ukraine’s people and neighbouring countries. The war has led to the largest refugee flows in Europe since the Second World War. People’s hopes for the future have been shattered and vast urban areas have been reduced to rubble. We stand in solidarity and will do what we can to help,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

Over 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries, and the UN estimates that more than 6.5 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities, the UN and humanitarian organisations report that there is a huge need for basic emergency relief such as food, water and medicines, in addition to protection.

The Government quickly decided to provide NOK 2 billion in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and neighbouring countries. So far, approximately NOK 1 billion has been disbursed. Support is being channelled through established humanitarian organisations that have the capacity to respond rapidly. It will help to save lives and alleviate suffering. The humanitarian organisations are working under extremely difficult conditions and at great risk to themselves. It is proving difficult to assess where the needs are most acute and reach those who are most in need of help.

So far, disbursements include NOK 350 million to support the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and NOK 250 million to support the UN Refugee Agency’s efforts to help refugees in neighbouring countries. NOK 144 million has been channelled through Norwegian humanitarian organisations. Norway is also providing support to UN emergency relief efforts in Ukraine. To date, Norway has contributed material assistance and medical supplies worth NOK 100 million through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM).

Norway has agreed to bring 550 patients from Ukraine to Norway for medical treatment. NOK 200 million will be allocated to the World Bank multi-donor trust fund for Ukraine. This funding is a direct contribution to the Ukrainian government administration for salaries for teachers and health care personnel as well as payment of pensions.  

Enormous need in Ukraine and neighbouring countries

At a meeting on Wednesday 23 March, representatives of Norwegian humanitarian organisations informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about their efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. The organisations all expressed their concern for the people who remain in Ukraine. At the same time, it is clear that there will be a significant increase in the number of people fleeing the country if the hostilities continue. The need for humanitarian assistance is enormous and continues to grow.

A number of Norwegian organisations have been working in Ukraine for a long time and already had operations in place in eastern Ukraine. With support from Norway, these organisations are expanding their operations to other parts of the country under extremely difficult working conditions.

‘The humanitarian organisations have reported that there is a huge need for basic emergency relief, such as food, water and shelter. There is also a widespread need for medical help. I am very concerned by reports of inadequate humanitarian access to areas under Russian control. I greatly appreciate the outstanding efforts being carried out by the humanitarian organisations,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

Norway has provided support for large deliveries of medical supplies and equipment to Ukraine, both from the national stockpile and through humanitarian partner organisations. Help is getting through. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has delivered 200 tonnes of emergency supplies, including medicines. Both the Norwegian Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières are providing lifesaving medical assistance to people in need.

In parts of Ukraine and its neighbouring countries, where the economy is less disrupted and there is adequate access to basic goods, cash assistance is an effective means of providing humanitarian aid. The Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Church Aid and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, along with the UN, are providing cash support in these areas. This enables the recipients to decide for themselves what they need the most, and at the same time increases demand in local markets.

Helping vulnerable people

Ten million people have been displaced, including many children and other vulnerable people. The situation is unpredictable, with many different actors involved in the relief efforts. This heightens the risk of exploitation and human trafficking. Save the Children Norway, Norwegian Church Aid and Caritas are among the organisations that are focusing greater attention on preventing exploitation of displaced people.

Humanitarian assistance is provided on the basis of the humanitarian principles, with the aim of saving lives and alleviating suffering. Assistance is to be provided on the basis of need alone. It is vital to ensure compliance with these principles, especially in an ongoing conflict, to enable organisations to uphold their neutrality and impartiality. A number of organisations have pointed out that the humanitarian principles are under increasing pressure.

Norway provides substantial support for UN efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. The UN system plays an important role in coordinating efforts between humanitarian organisations. According to the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, humanitarian organisations have so far provided food and cash assistance to 1.3 million displaced people. Since the start of the conflict, the World Food Programme has provided food and cash assistance to more than half a million people in Ukraine.

In addition to providing financial support to Norwegian humanitarian organisations and the UN, Norway has contributed material assistance and medical supplies worth NOK 100 million through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). Ukraine and its neighbours can submit requests for material, technical and medical assistance via this mechanism, in which Norway participates.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM)

The NOK 1 billion in humanitarian assistance already disbursed by Norway includes approximately NOK 100 million channelled through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). Ukraine and its neighbours can submit requests for material, technical and medical assistance via this mechanism. So far, Norway has provided surgical and medical supplies and medicines to Ukraine. Norway has also sent ambulances and personal protective equipment. The scheme for medical evacuation of patients from Ukraine is up and running, and the first patients have arrived in Norway. The Norwegian Emergency Medical Team (Nor Emt) is on standby and can be deployed at short notice. Norway has also sent tents and camp beds to Moldova in connection with the refugee response there. Further requests from Ukraine and the neighbouring countries will be assessed on an ongoing basis.

Norway is maintaining a close dialogue with its humanitarian partners on the evolving needs. The UN, Norwegian humanitarian partner organisations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are operating in Ukraine and also providing support to neighbouring countries that are receiving refugees. The Ukrainian authorities and neighbouring countries can also submit their requests for equipment, medical supplies and expertise through the UCPM, which Norway will continue to participate in.

Norway’s allocation of NOK 2 billion includes the following:

  • NOK 250 million for activities under the UN Regional Refugee Response Plan, led by the UN Refugee Agency.
  • NOK 350 million to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
  • NOK 144 million to Norwegian humanitarian organisations for their relief efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
  • NOK 100 million in material assistance and medical supplies through the UCPM.
  • NOK 200 million to the Ukrainian government administration. The funding will be used for salaries for health care personnel, teachers and public sector employees and for payment of pensions and social assistance.
  • NOK 100 million to Moldova. Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, has seen an influx of over 400.000 refugees. Funding has been allocated both to provide assistance to vulnerable refugees and to facilitate the efforts of the Moldovan authorities.

The remainder will primarily be disbursed to UN organisations for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Norway’s core support to the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund comes in addition to this.