There are now numerous initiatives to assist Ukraine and Ukrainians. Do you want to offer help? Thea Hilhorst, professor of Humanitarian Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) explains in Dutch newspaper AD how organisations offer help and how you can help most efficiently. "Especially large organisations are well controlled on how they spend their money, that's the difference with less known organisations."
In the event of exceptional disasters, the 11 Dutch cooperating aid organisations, including the Red Cross, Unicef, Cordaid and Stichting Vluchteling, join forces to collect money to help the victims and open giro 555 to deposit money.
More visibility on large organisations
The great advantage of such cooperation is that each aid organisation has its own expertise and its own networks and contacts in the conflict area and surrounding countries because they have been working there for years.
"There is always a little money needed for the organisation itself, but most of the money goes to the country and is spent there through local channels to assist people. And it is precisely the large organisations that are enormously well controlled in terms of how they spend their money, that is the difference with less well-known organisations," Hilhorst says. Aid organisations are accountable for every euro they spend.
"With private initiatives, it is more difficult to see what happens to the donation"
In addition to donating to a large aid organisation, you can now contribute to numerous initiatives by Dutch citizens who are committed to Ukraine. Food packages, old clothes, cuddly toys and blankets are collected to be shipped to the war zone.
Despite the fact that these initiatives are well-intentioned, Hilhorst looks at them critically. "Organisations such as the Red Cross and Giro 555 work as much as possible with Ukrainian organisations that ensure that the money ends up in the right place. It is more difficult to see what happens to many private initiatives, no matter how well-intentioned. It can even get in the way of other aid.”
How can aid organisations provide support in a conflict zone?
At the moment, according to Hilhorst, there is a big difference in the way aid arrives, between the areas controlled by the Ukrainian government and those where Russian separatists hold power. "The question is what happens if more areas fall into pro-Russian hands. Apart from the question of whether they get permission from the authorities in power in that area, it is indeed a question of whether it is too dangerous."
Some organisations make different considerations in this respect from others, she says. "In case of emergency, organisations try to provide help from a distance. And there is the possibility of sending emergency packages that are distributed by local organisations."