THE HUMANITARIAN IMPACTS OF THE UKRAINE CONFLICT

The escalation of violence in Ukraine has had global consequences. The conflict has had dire consequences for civilians and has evolved into a refugee and humanitarian crisis. Beyond this, countries worldwide have felt the skyrocketing food and energy prices, leaving many facing new levels of poverty. The entire humanitarian sector is being severely impacted by the consequences of the Ukrainian conflict, in different ways.

Global food and cost-of-living crisis

Hunger is on the rise globally and, according to official estimates, in 2020, between 720 and 811 million people were short of food and faced hunger across the globe. This is a record high, being driven by extreme weather and climate shocks, economic and financial crisis and long-running conflicts. In addition to this already worrying situation, global food prices rose to their highest ever levels as a result of the crisis in Ukraine. According to FAO’s monthly food price index, cooking oils, cereals and meats now cost a third more than the same time last year. Due to the violence in Ukraine, ports in the country have been closed, the Black Sea export system has been disrupted and Russian exports have also been slowed down due to financial and shipping problems in Russia.

As noted by FAO experts, fast-rising global food prices are likely to persist and the long-term impact will be felt heavily, across all continents. The disruption to imports, production and the related surge in food prices have the potential to worsen global food. Skyrocketing food prices will be particularly damaging for countries already struggling with other crises, including conflict, natural disasters, and harsh economic and financial conditions, such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan – countries that are already experiencing severe drought and conflict. Moreover, Ukraine and Russia are two of the world’s main sources of grain, fertilisers and energy, and the disruption in export flows, coupled with the imposition of severe economic sanctions against Russia, have spurred fears of a global hunger crisis.

Decrease in fundings

With the crisis in Ukraine receiving huge attention, there are concerns that humanitarian aid and resources will be diverted from other crises. Although Syria, Somalia, Yemen Afghanistan, and Yemen have been internationally recognized as humanitarian crises, it seems now they are in danger of being neglected by international aid organizations as major donors’ resources are being channelled to Ukraine and in-country humanitarian needs. Consequently, at the conference for Yemen held on the 16th of March 2022, donors raised less than a third of the $4.3 billion requested by the UN to respond to one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian emergencies. This result reflects a shift in humanitarian response to global crises: it is not just Yemen that is receiving a fraction of what it needs from the world’s richest nations. Other crises are spiralling around the globe, populations are suffering, and they need constant humanitarian help and support.

MOAS in Yemen and Somalia 

The humanitarian space has already been stretched to capacity, and the unfolding crisis in Ukraine has meant fiscal aid has shifted away from ongoing crises. MOAS’ logistical expertise gives scope to rapidly respond to aid gaps, and while we are providing frontline medical aid in Ukraine, we are also continuing our operations in Yemen, Syria and Somalia to assist the most vulnerable communities impacted by the devastating effects of war, violence, climate change and environmental shocks. Through #MissionofHope, MOAS is delivering nutritional supplements specifically tailored to help treat severe to acute malnutrition in children and save lives. This is done in close collaboration with our partner Edesia. Moreover, MOAS is also shipping medical supplies to Yemen, a country considered to be the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Our most recent delivery of medical supplies, provided by our partner Medeor, has recently reached the port of Aden and will be distributed through our local counterpart, ADRA Yemen. Our first shipment of ready to use therapeutic foods has recently arrived in Turkey and will soon reach the final destination in Syria to support our partner Action For Humanity.

Final thoughts

The pandemic, and emerging crises, have forced us to reconsider our priorities and has highlighted the importance of creating more sustainable and resilient societies. Yet, we appear to be moving from one crisis to another. The international community and national governments must bear in mind that its always civilians and the most vulnerable communities who suffer the most harsh consequences of a conflict. As the situation evolves and the humanitarian consequences of the conflict are difficult to estimate, there is a need to ensure that affected communities have continued access to any humanitarian support they may require and that their safety, as well as the safety of humanitarian staff on the ground, is guaranteed.

 

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