Domain Registration

Ukraine: Donations are generous, but helpers are exhausted

  • February 02, 2023

A total of 5.7 billion euros ($6.22 billion) were donated to charitable and humanitarian organizations in Germany in 2022. That’s similar to the amount given in 2021, when donations reached an all-time high following the flood disaster in western Germany’s Ahr valley.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine caused donations to skyrocket again.

“In 2022, people made donations in particular for people who had fled Ukraine,” says Martin Wulff of the “Spendenrat” (donations council), an association of aid organizations. The association, together with the German Society for Consumer Research (GfK), keeps tabs on donations every year.

They registered a marked increase following the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022. “The bulk of donations came in from February to April 2022, at the beginning of the war in Ukraine,” wrote the Spendenrat, which is supported also by the major churches, in a press release on Wednesday.

The “Spendenrat” reports that a large part of the money went to Ukraine to alleviate the suffering of internally displaced persons there — but it also helped support people who fled from Ukraine to Germany.

A Ukrainian family in Berlin

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

Inflation and high energy bills don’t impact donations

Even the surge in inflation and the sharp rise in energy costs did not markedly reduce donations in December, Dominique Mann from the “Aktionsbündnis Katastrophenhilfe” (Action Alliance for Disaster Relief) told DW. The alliance includes Catholic and Protestant Church aid organizations, the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF, and the German Red Cross.

Mann says that over the past eleven months, donations for Ukraine have been coming in steadily. In the first weeks of the Russian invasion in the spring of 2022, the volume was “extremely high” he says — and then again shortly before Christmas.

“The largest amount ever — 282 million euros — was donated in 2021 for the flood victims in Germany’s Ahr valley,” says Manuela Rossbach from “Aktion Deutschland hilft” an alliance of twelve aid organizations such as World Vision and Islamic Relief Germany. “But in 2022, about 250 million euros came in primarily for emergency aid for Ukraine,” she adds.

young volunteers distributing food
In 2022 volunteers flocked to Berlin’s main train station to look after refugees from UkraineImage: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Volunteers are exhausted

The aid organization “Be an Angel” in Berlin evacuated more than 18,000 people from Ukraine in the past eleven months. The organization primarily cares for those who need medical treatment, such as cancer patients. “We bring disabled people, sick people, and injured people to Germany so they get medical treatment,” the organization’s representative Ulrike Lessig tells DW.

She says she is “permanently looking for doctors and hospitals that can continue cancer treatment, for example.” In addition, the organization has collected money for more than 1,000 power generators and sent them to Ukraine. It also operates a new contact point in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa which caters to sick people seeking medical help in Germany.

But Lessig warns that Germans’ willingness to help is waning: “At the end of February 2022, people were alarmed, thinking that war is on our doorstep,” she says. But “the more you see such horrific images, the more you get used to them,” she says. And now, she notices that people in Germany have problems of their own.

Ulrike Lessig
Ulrike Lessig says she can see how the volunteers are exhaustedImage: Privat

Many of “Be an Angel”‘s supporters still donate regularly to Ukraine, but Lessing says she also hears people say, “How much food, how much heating will I still be able to afford? What do I have to look out for now? After all, the effects of the war are also being felt in Germany.”

Above all, she says, she notices that volunteers are exhausted. In the spring of 2022, during Russia’s advance on Kyiv, a particularly large number of refugees from Ukraine fled via Poland to Berlin, arriving at the main train station. Numerous volunteers came forward to help. “There are people who volunteer during vacations and at the weekends,” Lessig says. “But they can’t spend such a lot of time on refugees in the long run, on top of their jobs, looking after their families and seeing to other previous commitments.”

“That support would start waning was really obvious,” says Lessig. And with Russia’s attack on Ukraine continuing this year, she fears helping refugees cannot depend only on volunteers and private donations.

This article was originally written in German.

While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

Article source:

Related News

%d bloggers like this: