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Report | The Spanish humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine

During 2023, following the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, IECAH worked on the report “The Spanish humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine”, with the support of AECID.

The humanitarian needs resulting from the war in Ukraine have sparked a wave of solidarity worldwide. Europe as a whole, partly due to its geographical proximity, has been one of the main donors of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and neighbouring countries. This has resulted in the mobilisation of significant resources and capacities by states, multilateral agencies, local authorities, and civil society organisations. This mobilisation has been crucial to respond to a significant part of the humanitarian needs, in areas of particular importance such as food security, protection, health, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as camp management and coordination, among others. In this context, Spanish cooperation, through its different actors and spheres of action, has also mobilised to support the international humanitarian response to the crisis resulting from the war. In a scenario in which the war is not over and humanitarian needs continue, it is necessary to investigate and reflect on the processes, objectives and results achieved so far by the actors involved in the humanitarian response, particularly from the humanitarian sector.

In a scenario in which the war has not come to an end and humanitarian needs continue, it is necessary to investigate and reflect on the processes, objectives and results achieved so far by the actors involved in humanitarian response, particularly Spanish cooperation. This report therefore analyses the humanitarian response of various Spanish actors to the crisis resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.It examines the geographical and sectoral scope of the response, as well as the challenges and lessons learned during the first year.

The methodology employed in this research combines quantitative and qualitative approaches.A comprehensive literature review was conducted, along with an analysis of available documentary sources related to Spain’s humanitarian response in Ukraine.Semi-structured interviews were conducted with key actors in Spanish humanitarian cooperation.In addition, quantitative data on the resources invested in the humanitarian response in Ukraine were analysed.

The study highlights the participation of various Spanish actors, including the central Government, regional Governments, companies, corporate foundations, and NGOs. There was an unprecedented wave of solidarity in Spanish institutions and civil society, with numerous initiatives to support victims of the conflict in Ukraine and neighboring countries. The report provides an overview of the involvement of different categories of actors and estimates that the total value of actions or projects amounts to at least 61 million euros. The central Government, mainly through AECID, is the largest contributor, representing 55% of the aid (AECID, Foreign Affairs allocates 31 million to help Ukraine in the largest humanitarian action package in emergencies, 2022A). Other significant contributors include decentralized public institutions, companies, corporate foundations, and NGOs. Spanish NGOs carried out the highest number of humanitarian projects or initiatives, followed by UN agencies, international NGOs, and local entities.

The analysis of the geographical distribution of Spanish humanitarian initiatives showed that Ukraine was the main scenario for these. Ukraine received 22.7% of the humanitarian projects. On the other hand, of the total funds raised, 73.6% were allocated to initiatives in Ukraine. Moldova, Romania, and Poland also received significant attention due to the regional impact of the crisis. However, Hungary, Slovakia, and Georgia received a lower proportion of projects and resources because the crisis affected them to a lesser extent. The report highlights the prioritization of Ukraine and the regional approach in the Spanish response.

Regarding sectoral distribution, the health sector received the highest percentage of allocation, followed by the protection sector. Resources were also allocated to cash assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene, and emergency shelters/non-food items. However, sectors such as food security, emergency education, and camp coordination and management were not prioritized in the Spanish response.

The report identifies challenges and good practices derived from the first year of humanitarian response by Spanish actors. The need for coordination is highlighted, and the importance of humanitarian education in Spanish society is emphasized. Additionally, the importance of the localization approach is mentioned, which involves local actors in humanitarian response. Although there were barriers and problems, collaborations between international and Spanish actors with local entities had positive results.

In conclusion, this report underscores the commitment of Spanish actors to humanitarian response to the crisis in Ukraine and also identifies areas for improvement, such as the need for more effective coordination, greater humanitarian education, and a stronger focus on localization. Ultimately, a comprehensive and sustained humanitarian response that takes into account local capacities to alleviate suffering and address the urgent needs of the affected population is essential.

Executive summary




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