“To support Ukraine, we must help local actors”

En Ukraine, people are cold. While the harsh winter is already present, there is no more heating, no more light, no more running water for several hours a day. Russian missiles on cities and electrical infrastructure target civilians. It’s a real slow, physical torture and psychological, which is inflicted on the whole population.

This criminal brutality is added to that which has been deployed with permissiveness since the beginning of Russian aggression: women raped, children kidnapped under the guise of “foster care” in Russia, the massacres of innocent people thrown into mass graves . These are indeed mass crimes that take place every day on European soil.

To cope, the aid sent to Ukraine is reaching new heights. Yet little support is reaching the people there and their situation is getting worse. Why ? How can we best help them?

Lack of know-how

The overwhelming majority of aid is sent to large NGOs and international organisations. For institutional donors as well as for individuals who donate, this represents a guarantee of seriousness, an assurance that the money will not be misappropriated by corruption, and an opportunity to communicate more easily.

Read also: The Challenge of International Civil Aid to Ukraine

However, these organizations are not accustomed to working “with” local institutions and associations in times of war, whereas in Ukraine the system is robust: the central State continues to operate, in close coordination with local authorities and civil society organizations.

The approaches, habits, representations and cultures of the large NGOs and international organizations push them to intervene by replacing a state that is often greatly weakened, when it has not collapsed with the war. These same reasons push them, moreover, to little strengthen the capacities of the countries in which they intervene, thus creating dependence and situations of great fragility when they leave.

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In the Ukrainian configuration, they don’t really know how to do it. In addition, their learning speed is slow. As a result, they often act alongside the real needs, the waste of money is massive, and the Ukrainian population suffers.

Unprecedented configuration

Conversely, since February, local actors in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe have been organizing solidarity effectively. This is a new field of action for them. Indeed, if there is classically local international cooperation in times of peace, it is almost non-existent during a war, especially when it concerns displaced populations.

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