Ukrainian health care facilities
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted Ukrainians and Ukrainian health care facilities and safety issues only escalated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Ukrainian Health Care Facilities Under Fire

Since Russia’s invasion, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed 715 attacks on Ukrainian health care facilities, creating a shortage of proper medical care and supplies for Ukrainians. The Washington Post reported that Russian soldiers destroyed nearly all of the health infrastructure in the recaptured territories. This has left thousands of Ukrainians, mainly in seized villages, without necessary health care access.

Low Vaccination Rates, Disease Outbreaks and Health Concerns

At the beginning of the war, nearly 60% of Ukrainians were unvaccinated against COVID-19, with cases at a record peak. The Russian attacks have limited access to vaccinations, COVID-19 testing and treatment. In addition, crowded bomb shelters and border crossings have created the perfect conditions for extreme COVID-19 outbreaks. This would overextend the already limited capacities of Ukrainian health care facilities. Millions of Ukrainians that rely on regular doses of life-saving medication, such as insulin, are unable to access the medication necessary for survival. Hospital closures also put thousands of pregnant mothers in extreme danger. They end up in extenuating circumstances without access to health teams, checkups or delivery services.

Earlier in 2022, WHO estimated that 15% of these Ukrainian births would result in complications that would need skilled medical care: a feat difficult with limited medicine and oxygen access. Outbreaks of other diseases, such as Polio, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, pose great threats to Ukrainian lives during the war. The rampant misinformation regarding vaccines in Ukraine contributed to a low immunization rate, making Ukraine more susceptible to disease outbreaks.

Relief Organizations

Relief organizations have attempted to combat this issue by focusing their efforts on reinstating emergency medical care in seized areas, yet they face a number of challenges. Land mines and leftover military weaponry still threaten many recaptured areas. There is also an extreme shortage of health care workers, with many worried about entering dangerous areas. Finally, targeted attacks on Ukrainian energy sources have created mass blackouts throughout the country, leaving thousands of Ukrainians without heat or running water. This makes seeking health care and remaining healthy increasingly difficult.

Also, hospitals have canceled all nonessential procedures and patient records are unavailable due to internet outages. Blackouts also inhibit proper hygiene, as running water is often inaccessible. Infections run rampant due to poor hygiene, increasing the urgency for health care. Doctors must perform emergency surgeries in freezing temperatures while using headlamps as light sources due to frequent power outages.

Limited Resources

Limited resources make it increasingly difficult for relief organizations to provide aid. The Kyiv City Charity Foundation Food Bank is operating actively to provide food for Ukrainians, yet they have lacked proper food supplies since Ukrainian plants had to shut down production. This food bank, along with others in Ukraine, has received aid and supplies from foreign organizations such as Save the Children and the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP).

WFP recently received a $50 million donation from the United States, which has gone towards providing food for Ukrainians. It plans to assist more than 3 million people through these funds, with three operation locations established throughout Ukraine. WFP purchased most of the food in Ukraine to help their economy, but it has also created hubs in Poland to safely distribute food. It has been difficult for these organizations to anticipate needs throughout Ukraine as food insecurity and supply limitations change daily, but relief organizations have been able to help limit the extreme circumstances in Ukraine through aid.

Rebuilding Ukrainian Health Care Facilities

According to Deputy Minister of Health Oleksiy Yaremenko, damaged health infrastructure alone will cost at least $1 billion to fix, so rebuilding Ukrainian health care facilities is a lofty but necessary ambition. Along with foreign aid, internal organizations have helped Ukraine. Ukrainian civil society organizations have risen to the challenge, meeting the needs of hospitals throughout the country. The Alliance for Public Health (APH) provides limited service in most regions, including occupied areas.

To combat shortages, APH delivered 140 metric tons of medical supplies to Ukrainian hospitals between March 23 and April 6 alone. Its mobile clinics serve as transportation of humanitarian aid into conflict zones and evacuation vans. 100% LIFE, Ukraine’s largest organization for people with HIV, distributed an initial delivery of 18 million doses of antiretroviral medication, enough to cover a six-month supply for all people with HIV on first-line treatment.

The lack of health care provisions for Ukrainians has caused an increase in sickness and casualties. However, the presence of foreign aid and relief organizations has alleviated the damage. As the war continues, the lack of Ukrainian health care facilities and resources will likely become more harmful to the protection of Ukrainians and the rebuilding of society.

– Mariam Abaza
Photo: Flickr

TikTokers Raise Awareness
The war in Ukraine continues months after the Russian invasion in February 2022. With no reconciliation in close sight, especially after recent Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities in early October 2022, humanitarian aid is urgent. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) estimated a civilian death toll of 6,430 by October 30, 2022. TikTokers within Ukraine are using the TikTok app to report on the events unfolding in Ukraine and document their experiences. Through this social media platform, TikTokers raise awareness about the Ukraine crisis and publicize calls for aid to Ukraine.

This type of news dissemination via short videos is gaining popularity among the younger generations not only because of the quick dissemination of news but because of the first-person accounts of the war and even the use of humor by Ukrainians on the ground.

First-person Accounts of War

Johnny Jen, a travel vlogger living in Ukraine during the Russian invasion, had some insight into using social media to show the effects of war. Jen told Insider that platforms like TikTok and YouTube have already begun to “replace traditional media and the news,” especially among the younger generation. A 2019 Reuters Institute study confirms this with a finding that individuals younger than 35 feel “traditional news media no longer seems as relevant or as dominant when it comes to news content” in comparison to social media.

University professor Damian Radcliffe also commented on this trend, telling Insider that the “informal feel” of these short videos tends to resonate as more “authentic and raw” to a younger audience.

Humor as a Coping Mechanism

The humor sprinkled into this type of content draws the attention of people using TikTok. Ukrainian Lisa Lysova has garnered a million views on a TikTok dance video she created after waking up to “sounds of explosions” when Russia invaded the nation. She says the use of humor is how she copes with the stress of the crisis.

Alina Volik, who is also a TikToker in Ukraine, says this humor helps Ukrainians “bond,” especially amid the war. She has 76,000 followers who watch her videos, which range from jokes that the Ukrainian president is the country’s “psychotherapist” and visiting empty stores in Ukraine as “entertainment.” This is a way for Ukrainians to relate to one another.

The Future of Social Media News Dissemination

With distrust in local media lurking over the past few years, these short videos are gaining attention. Survey results from Reach3 Insights show “three-quarters of Generation Z said TikTok has helped them to learn about social justice and politics, while the same number said the social video app helps them stay current on the news,” Marketing Dive reported.

While TikTokers raise awareness about the Ukraine crisis, countries are providing donations to support Ukrainians. On October 6, 2022, USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced that the U.S. will provide $55 million worth of financial aid to support heating infrastructure in Ukraine as winter approaches. The USAID website says that “This assistance will support repairs and maintenance of pipes and other equipment necessary to deliver heating to homes, hospitals, schools and businesses across Ukraine.” From February 2022 to October 2022, the U.S. supplied $1.5 billion worth of humanitarian aid to people in Ukraine and surrounding countries.

Through TikTok, Ukrainian influencers are bringing attention to the issues impacting Ukraine, which could garner more foreign aid and help from humanitarian organizations.

– Marynette Holmes
Photo: Flickr

Ceasefires Bringing Peace to the World
Since the start of the decade, three wars have come to an end following years of brutal conflict. With the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, oftentimes, flooding the news, it can be easy to forget about the positive side of international affairs. However, there have been several conflicts that have ended in recent years. The end of the war has allowed various countries to rebuild during their times of peace and focus on strengthening themselves internally. Here are some examples of recent ceasefires that are bringing peace to the world.

The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire Agreement

Azerbaijan and Armenia fought the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Nagorno-Karabakh is a region in Azerbaijan with the most Armenians. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to become part of Armenia. This caused Azerbaijan to take action to reclaim its lost territory.

The war originally began in 1988 and ended in 1994 with a ceasefire; however, it did not lead to the signing of a peace treaty. The war resumed in 2020 for about a month and a half before Russia negotiated a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. During the initial conflict, more than 600,000 people experienced displacement and the resumption of the war in 2020 displaced 75,000. Ultimately, Nagorno-Karabakh returned to being part of Azerbaijan.

Following the war, Azerbaijani families began to return to Nagorno-Karabakh. With its newly regained land, Azerbaijan has decided to take advantage of various technological advancements since the start of the original war. The village of Aghali, specifically, will be a testing ground of sorts for the country’s “smart villages concept.” This will allow displaced families to home to new houses with smart technology and improved rural lifestyles with the additions of digital connectivity and automation.

The 2020 South Sudan Civil War Ceasefire

After earning its independence in 2011 and becoming the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan became entrenched in years of civil war. There were various factors behind the start of the war; but, much of it is due to the political rivalry between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.

Similarly to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, both sides agreed to a ceasefire in 2018. Unfortunately, the ceasefire did not hold and fighting continued for two more years. It was not until 2020 that Kiir and Machar agreed on another ceasefire to officially end the war. There are currently about 2.3 million people that the conflict displaced.

While the war has left Sudan in ruins, many of its citizens have hope for the future. The first encouraging sign came when Kiir appointed Machar as the first vice president, signaling an effort to maintain peace. Additionally, South Sudan looks to improve its struggling education system. Just before the war, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) received a grant of $36.1 million to implement its education plan. Despite the conflict, the funding was fairly successful and contributed to the construction of 25 primary schools and a strategy to increase gender equality. With the war over, the GPE has given South Sudan another grant of $35.7 million to build on the foundations that were set in the preceding years.

The 2020 Libyan Civil War Ceasefire

In 2011, Libya attempted to create a new, democratic government after the overthrowing of the previous leader, Muammar Gaddafi. What followed was a disagreement between two different government ideologies that escalated into a full-scale civil war. The war was mainly between the leader Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, and rebel general Khalifa Haftar

This war in particular was the Second Libyan Civil War. The first took place in 2011 while the second ran from 2014 to 2020. Over the course of the war, more than 200,000 people experienced displacement and many more still require “humanitarian assistance.” After years of fighting, the two sides, eventually, came together and agreed to a “permanent cease-fire.” Many viewed this as a great accomplishment.

Shortly after the ceasefire agreement, Libya implemented a temporary joint government to avoid any clashes between the two opposing sides until proper elections can be implemented. Before the war, Libya included many unfinished buildings and projects that were on hold. Now, with the war officially over, several countries have taken interest in Libya’s reconstruction effort. Italy, in particular, would like to protect its interests in Libya’’s plentiful oil reserves. Italy also proposed the construction of a solar power plant in Libya.

While it can, sometimes, feel like the world is in a constant state of violence, these examples are proof that ceasefires are bringing peace to the world. Nations that have been fighting for years are burying the hatchet and transitioning into a new era of harmony. As their reconstruction efforts continue, many people can rest a bit easier knowing that the world is more peaceful than it once was.

– Tyshon Johnson
Photo: Unsplash

poland-welcomes-ukrainian-refugeesPoland has been a top host country for Ukrainian refugees since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022. Poland has in fact welcomed more than 3.5 million of the 6.5 million Ukrainians who have fled the violence in their country. While half of those who crossed the border into Poland intend to seek temporary residence in other European countries, the other half is remaining in Poland until the war is over.

Who are the Refugees?

The majority of the 6.5 million Ukrainians who have fled the country are women and children. This is because, under Ukraine’s martial law, men between the ages of 18 and 60 are prohibited from leaving the country. Fathers, husbands and sons have had to stay behind, resulting in many families being separated.

Not all refugees fleeing from Ukraine are Ukrainian. Students from African countries, Afghan refugees and Belarusian asylum seekers make up a sizeable portion of those who cross into Poland in the flight from violence, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC). When the EU announced temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees, the IRC also urged that the same auspices be extended to non-Ukrainian residents and asylum seekers.

What Do the Refugees Need?

Refugees arriving in Poland are fleeing areas heavily inflicted by fighting with some having spent weeks living in bomb shelters and basements. Scared for their own lives as well as the lives of any loved ones left behind, refugees enter Poland in a state of acute distress and anxiety. On top of their concern for family members still in Ukraine, refugees must also deal with the stress of mapping out their future course of action with far fewer economic resources and social ties than they had in their home country.

Refugees’ main needs are health and medical services. At the beginning of the crisis, those making the journey across the border endured freezing temperatures and went days without enough food and water. “People are arriving across the border exhausted, hungry and cold,” said IRC Ukraine emergency response team lead Heather Macey to Rescue.

The government of Poland has installed numerous reception centers throughout the country in response. There, refugees can receive any medical attention they may need and recuperate for a few nights before finding shelter elsewhere in the country. The IRC has played a critical role in providing these centers with blankets and sleeping bags as well as necessary medical equipment.

Poland’s Open Door Policy

Poland has been quick to establish systems of legal stay, access to employment, education, health care and other social welfare for newly arriving refugees. Polish authorities have registered more than 1.1 million people with the Government of Poland and granted them with a state ID number that gives them access to these services, U.N. reports.

While the Polish government has accomplished much on its own, other international organizations like the IRC and the UNHCR have played a critical role in supporting government-led efforts, specifically in providing cash assistance and delivering emergency supplies. “[More than] 100,000 refugees have already received financial support from UNHCR to cover their basic needs, such as paying rent or buying food and medicine,” said Olga Sarrado, spokeswoman for UNHCR.

With the help of its partners, Poland has shown an impressive crisis response. It is important to remember however that the Russian-Ukraine war is ongoing, and the country is to expect even larger flows of refugees further into the year meaning that more support will be needed going forward.

Lauren Kim
Photo: Flickr

Russia-Ukraine Wheat Agreement Russia and Ukraine are two of the largest grain producers in the world, combining to supply 30% of the world’s wheat and barley. A continuous flow of these goods is critical as the two countries account for over half of all wheat imports in 36 countries, according to the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). The Russia-Ukraine war put a stop to the export of these goods with Russia blocking Ukrainian ports since February. Fortunately, with the help of the United Nations and third-party countries, Russia and Ukraine were able to strike a deal allowing wheat and grain exports to leave the Ukrainian port in Odesa. The Russia-Ukraine wheat agreement went into effect on Monday, August 1, 2022.

Food Supply Threat

Port blockages posed a clear threat to food supply lines around the world, specifically in the Horn of Africa. Because wheat was unavailable from Russia and Ukraine, countries had to pay more for shipping from further away countries. Additionally, any vessels traveling through the black sea were in imminent danger, resulting in higher insurance premiums and an overall increase in food costs.

The situation was untenable, with it being an estimated 47 million people face acute hunger, USIP reports.

Fortunately, with the help of the United Nations and third-party countries, Russia and Ukraine were able to strike a deal allowing wheat and grain exports to leave the Ukrainian port in Odesa. The Russo-Ukrainian wheat agreement went into effect on Monday, August 1, 2022.

The Agreement

Two countries concluded the agreement last month, after two months of negotiation. United Nations and Turkey brokered the talks, with both Russia and Ukraine taking a seat at the table. The Russia-Ukraine wheat agreement should last 120 days, however, there’s an option to renew it indefinitely if both countries agree, according to BBC.

The reason for the nearly month-long delay between agreement and enaction of this deal comes from the difficult logistics that had to be ironed out. Ukrainian military mined the waters in Odesa to prevent Russian ships from entering. As a result, this makes travel by cargo ship incredibly difficult.

The Ukrainian military worked to finalize a route through the black sea suitable for cargo ships and devoid of mines. Second, all cargo ships entering and exiting Ukraine will go through inspection for weapons, upon Russia’s request. This inspection will happen at the Joint Coordination Center in Turkey, according to BBC.

Now that the agreement has gone into effect, Ukrainian officials announced that there are 17 ships carrying 600,000 tonnes of cargo waiting for inspection, BBC reports.

Compromises

Under the Russian-Ukraine wheat agreement, Russia has agreed not to take any military action on Odesa or the ships coming in and out of the port. Ukraine has agreed to use its naval vessels to guide all ships in and out of the mined waters, according to BBC.

As mentioned before, Russia had concerns over weapons being smuggled into Ukraine. To alleviate these concerns Ukraine agreed to mandatory inspections of all ships, which Turkey, as a third party, will conduct.

Issues

The Russo-Ukrainian Wheat Agreement is a major first step in building relationships and restoring food supply lines. However, there are still some concerns. First, there are concerns that Russia may not have agreed to this deal in good faith. Less than 24 hours after the deal was agreed to, Russia launched two missile strikes on Odesa port.

There are worries that Russia may continue to disrupt shipments through military action. Second, even with guidance from the Ukrainian navy, sea mines still pose a significant threat to cargo ships in the water. As a result, insurance premiums for vessels hoping to transport grain under this agreement will remain incredibly high and continue to put upwards pressure on the cost of food.

– Benjamin Brown
Photo: Flickr

Truce in Yemen
After more than seven years of war and what the United Nations described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” a truce in Yemen offered respite to the millions affected by the conflict in April.

Yemen’s Civil War and its Effects

The roots of Yemen’s civil war extend back to 2012 when Yemen’s president stepped down due to the Arab Spring. The former president and his supporters joined forces with the Houthi rebels, a Shiite Muslim resistance group supported by Iran. The Houthi rebels attacked the Yemeni government in 2014, seizing Yemen’s capital. As a result of the Houthi’s assault, the new president fled to Saudi Arabia and a Saudi-led collation began military operations against the Houthi rebels. Both the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition have continued to attack each other for the past seven years and attempts by the United States and the U.N. to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the conflict have proven largely unsuccessful.

The civil war in Yemen has had severe consequences for the Yemeni people. In 2021, the U.N. estimated that the death toll of Yemen’s civil war was approaching 377,000. The U.N. estimated that 60% of the deaths were the result of indirect effects of the war, such as lack of access to water, food or medical resources. The U.N. estimated that 70% of those who had died as a result of the conflict were children. In 2021, U.N. approximations showed that one Yemeni child died every nine minutes because of the war.

In addition to killing the Yemeni people, Yemen’s war has forced millions into extreme poverty and led to increased malnutrition. Due to the war, 15.6 million Yemeni people have fallen into extreme poverty and the number of malnourished people has more than doubled. The U.N. estimated that the war can cause an additional 8.6 million Yemeni people to become malnourished, including 1.6 million children by 2030.

Yemen’s Truce

After almost eight years of violence, on April 1, the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels signed on to a U.N.-brokered truce, that went into effect on April 2. The truce included an agreement to cease offensive military operations, an end to the Houthi blockade of fuel ships and the reopening of the government-controlled commercial airport in Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a. While the original truce was to expire on June 2, the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels agreed to extend the truce an additional two months until August 2.

As of July, the truce has resulted in more than a dozen commercial flights departing from the Sana’a commercial airport and more than 20 fuel ships entering Yemen’s Hudaydah port. Before the implementation of the truce in Yemen, the Yemeni government had not allowed commercial flights from the Sana’a airport for nearly six years.

In addition to reopening Hudaydah port to fuel shipments and reopening Sana’a airport to commercial flights, the truce has helped reduce violence between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels. By the end of April, the U.N. reported that airstrikes and drone and missile attacks had come to a complete halt. Before the treaty, the Saudi-led coalition engaged in more than 40 airstrikes a week on average and the Houthi rebels engaged in an average of four drone and missile strikes a week. Alongside the reduction in violence, the U.N. report on the first two months of the treaty found that those two months had the lowest fatality levels in Yemen since 2015. Fatalities due to civilian targeting had decreased by 50%.

Looking Ahead

Despite the success of the truce in Yemen, its implementation has met some challenges. The truce included an agreement to reopen streets in the Houthi-controlled city, Taiz, a goal that the warring parties have made little progress toward. Both sides have reported violations of the agreement to cease offensive military operations. Even taking the roadblocks into account, this truce represents an unprecedented step toward peace for Yemen.

Anna Inghram
Photo: Flickr

Homs Yeast FactoryThe war in Syria has resulted in the destruction of important infrastructure including factories that produced yeast essential for making bread. The yeast would then be delivered to bakeries who use it to bake bread to sell to the people. However, because of the war, the only operating yeast factory is the one at Homs but it is producing less yeast than before due to reduced resources. Nevertheless, on June 1, 2022, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced that it will use its resources to rebuild the Homs factory so it can produce as much yeast as before the war. UNDP’s heroic efforts to rebuild the Homs yeast factory are an illustration of a modern-day success story.

This story is more inspiring when looking at the mechanical details of the Homs yeast factory before and after UNDP’s intervention. Before UNDP’s intervention, the yeast factory in Homs produced “only six to 10 tonnes of yeast” every day. This is 5% to 9% of the amount before the war started. But with the intervention, the UNDP is aiming to have the Homs factory produce “24 tonnes of yeast daily” to give to the bakeries in Syria so they can bake and sell bread to Syrians. This is an ambitious goal to achieve especially since the quality of life in Syria has deteriorated sharply in the 12 years since the war started.

Current Poverty Rate and Food Insecurity in Syria

The war in Syria has devastated the lives of ordinary Syrians with the poverty rate increasing and food insecurity worsening. This makes UNDP’s heroic efforts to rebuild the Homs yeast factory more uplifting. The number of Syrians living in poverty has reached nearly 90% of the population in the whole country as of June 1, 2022, according to a press release published on ReliefWeb.

Furthermore, as of June 1, 2022, the percentage of the population struggling with food insecurity is at a “historic highs with an estimated 60%.” Therefore, the UNDP is facing many obstacles in tackling food insecurity in Syria by rebuilding the Homs factory, which requires sophisticated solutions. Nevertheless, the UNDP has the necessary strategies to successfully reconstruct the Homs factory so it can feed more Syrians just like before the war started.

How the UNDP is Rebuilding the Homs Yeast Factory

UNDP’s heroic efforts to rebuild the Homs yeast factory are possible because of the meticulous plan the UNDP formulated within the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan. Technical assessments conducted by the UNDP on June 1, 2022, show that nearly $1 million is needed in order to reconstruct the Homs yeast factory.

UNDP is planning to allocate 80% of the $1 million to “the technical rehabilitation of yeast processing,” according to U.N. News. Twenty percent of that $1 million UNDP plans to spend on “packaging equipment, factory safety and hygiene standards.” The UNDP plan’s intended goal is to be able to feed 3 million more Syrians who cannot afford bread currently.

Nationwide Efforts to Distribute Bread to Syrians

Reducing poverty and food insecurity in Syria is not strictly dependent on UNDP’s heroic efforts to rebuild the Homs yeast factory. The interim government in Syria announced on May 19, 2022, that it “prohibited the export or transport of any of the strategic crops,” such as wheat. The reason is that prohibiting exports of wheat and other strategic crops would “achieve food security in the liberated areas.”

Furthermore, on June 13, 2022, the interim government in Syria has also been “working on a plan to purchase large quantities of grains,” from Syrian local farmers. That way, the interim government can “boost stocks needed to produce bread,” Al-Monitor reported. The efforts of the interim government, if successful, are complementary to UNDP’s work on rebuilding the Homs yeast factory which produces materials necessary for making bread.

Looking Ahead

UNDP’s energetic efforts to rebuild the Homs yeast factory highlight an international determination to help Syrians. It is commonly heard that the world is forgetting about Syria because of the longevity of the war. However, the UNDP’s hard work, planning and investment in rebuilding the factory shows that the world has not only not forgotten about Syrians, but is coming up with clever solutions to save them. International relations analysts usually ask whether the U.N. has lost its credibility because of its inability to end the Syrian war. The UNDP story proves that the U.N. is still credible and capable of saving lives despite the odds.

– Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr

War in Ukraine
As the war in Ukraine continues, many begin to think about the consequences that are going to result from it. One can already see some of the consequences of the damage done in Ukraine. From a humanitarian perspective, this war will have severe consequences on poverty around the world. The impact war has on poverty does not always get the most attention. However, it is just as important as the other consequences that come from war.

War and Poverty

People often overlook those living in poverty during war as well as how greatly it affects the demographic. For example, damage to infrastructure and the economy can set a country back in the progress previously made in minimizing poverty. It also makes the living conditions of those living in poverty worse. War affects poverty and poverty has impacts on war as well. Countries with lower GDPs have a higher possibility of conflict. Poverty can reduce a government’s ability to prevent conflict as well.

Poverty in Ukraine Before the War

Poverty in Ukraine has always fluctuated. According to a UNICEF article, absolute poverty reached peak values in 2001 and 2015 in Ukraine. Poverty in Ukraine was declining from 2015 to 2019. In 2020, poverty began to rise again in part due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Impacts on Poverty from the War in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has already caused damage to infrastructure, economy, unemployment and inflation. According to the New York Times, the damage Russia has caused to Ukraine’s infrastructure is more than $119 billion as of March 14, 2022. The damage caused is detrimental to Ukraine’s infrastructure and poverty rate. The loss of life and displacement of Ukrainian people will cause a rise in poverty. UNDP tweeted that “According to our early projections, almost one-third of Ukrainians could fall into poverty within a year and an additional 62% are at risk of falling into poverty.” Ukraine is not the only country that is going to feel the impacts of this war. Countries all over the world are facing an increase in prices of products and goods such as gas and food. The Center for Global Development stated, “Our analysis suggests the scale of the price spike will push over 40 million into extreme poverty.” The entire world is going to feel the impact of the war in Ukraine.

Solutions

In an effort to help those in Ukraine, the United Nations Foundation has created a link on its webpage so anyone can donate. The U.N. is providing humanitarian assistance by using money from the Central Emergency Response Fund as well as providing assistance on the ground. According to the United Nations Foundation, “The UN is on the ground delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance and support to the people of Ukraine.” Local governments are also creating programs to provide aid. In Northern Virginia, the collection of necessities such as blankets and coats for Ukrainian refugees began on March 23, 2022. The World Food Programme (WFP) has also been providing food assistance. An article from WFP stated that its operation will be working towards providing assistance to people inside of Ukraine and neighboring countries. 

A Look Ahead

The effects of poverty will be more detrimental the longer the war in Ukraine continues. Ukraine was making progress in eliminating poverty before COVID-19 and is now going to see a significant increase in the number of people facing economic hardships. The entire world will be affected by this increase as well.

Anna Deutsch
Photo: Flickr

USAID Helps Prevent War
Case studies throughout history depict the ill effects rendered to countries entangled in perpetual war. Examples from the last two centuries include Germany’s hyperinflation post-World War I and the infrastructural and economic problems in Rwanda and Sierra Leone post-civil war. History shows that war is a direct cause of poverty in many countries. In turn, poverty is indirectly responsible for factors such as starvation and the inability to control diseases. Due to its current period of fierce conflicts, West Africa experiences the drastic effects of war and accompanying poverty. If West Africa desires to alleviate poverty while fostering economic, infrastructural and developmental growth, it must find ways to both prevent war and maintain peace. Thankfully, some organizations are working to do just that. Here is how USAID helps prevent war in West Africa.

USAID in West Africa

USAID intervenes in West African conflicts with its Regional Peace and Development Program, established in September 2016. Importantly, the program works to avert war by bolstering the political integrity and honesty of West African regimes, while simultaneously holding them accountable. It does this by collaborating with regional and state institutions as well as providing training, research and other educational outreaches.

One segment of this program is Partnerships for Peace (P4P), which educates citizens on the roots of violence. Another branch within the Regional Peace and Development Program is Voices for Peace (V4P), which counters violent extremism by promoting human rights through education and media outlets. Both initiatives are successful examples of how USAID helps prevent war in West Africa.

Partnerships for Peace (P4P)

P4P is oriented towards strengthening West Africa’s ability to counter violent extremism. It primarily focuses on the countries of Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania. In total, it allocates $21.9 million to these nations to counter violent extremism.

To limit radical extremism, P4P developed the Regional Counter to Violent Extremism Lexicon. This lexicon, which has undergone translation into six African languages, provides appropriate terminology for local contexts, being sensitive to cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Moreover, P4P uses its funding to counter violence by supporting regional anti-extremist organizations. It also provides grants to implement initiatives and programs addressing violent extremism. By funding civil organizations and promulgating anti-extremist educational doctrines, P4P has deterred conflict in West Africa.

Voices for Peace (V4P)

V4P prevents war by promoting good governance and social cohesion. With its budget of $31.5 million, the organization discourages the escalation to conflict by targeting at-risk youth, women and marginalized groups. V4P connects these vulnerable populations with media platforms, respected leaders, institutions and networks to spread awareness. Specifically, they discuss the ill effects of war and the widespread death and poverty stemming from it.

USAID helps prevent war through V4P by promoting democratic values, human rights and good governance. The organization widely disseminates these values by targeting the media, educational institutions and radio talk shows. Significantly, the organization’s humanitarian message, which has undergone translation into 30 languages and 93 radio stations convey, has reached diverse groups. Consequently, USAID’s V4P ably empowers the marginalized while inspiring civic action in citizens across West Africa.

Hope for the Future

USAID’s efforts have played a critical role in successfully delivering West Africa from its tumultuous past. Now, the organization assists in guiding West Africa towards a lasting peace that will allow the region to escape poverty and establish sound governance. For the sake of both international security and poverty alleviation, the international community ought to take a similar course in supporting programs that aid West Africa’s anti-violence organizations.

– Jacob Crosley
Photo: Flickr