Catalan Cooperation Fund sends €741,000 to humanitarian projects during first year of Ukraine war

Effort focused on care of vulnerable groups such as children, women and ethnic minorities

Ukrainian soldiers in a military checkpoint at the Polish border
Ukrainian soldiers in a military checkpoint at the Polish border / Jordi Pujolar
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 13, 2023 01:15 PM

February 14, 2023 11:55 AM

The Catalan Cooperation Fund (FFCD) has sent €741,000 to humanitarian projects in Ukraine over the first year of the war since Russia's large-scale invasion.

A year after the first bombings, "the situation remains terribly hard for many people," FFCD director David Minoves told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) in an interview.

Around €600,000 of the total came from around 100 local councils, with the rest donated by companies, groups and individuals.

The funds have been used to help people to meet basic needs, such as shelter or food, to get medical and psychosocial support, and for care of vulnerable groups such as children, ethnic minorities, or women who are victims of gender-based violence.

"We have focused our efforts on those who are doubly suffering in this tragic situation," Monives said. 

Support for children 

The project that has received the most funding (€93,000) is one that offers emotional support via the circus, aimed at Ukrainian refugee children in the Polish city of Lublin, less than 100km from the border. 

There, the Sztukmistrz foundation teaches circus arts to the children, trying to help them cope through the universal language of the circus. 

Children have, in fact, been one of the groups of that the Catalan Cooperation Fund has sought to help during the first year of the war. 

"The children have suffered a lot. They have been uprooted from their immediate surroundings and have seen their families torn apart," explains Minoves. 

About one in five residents of Lublin are Ukrainian, although some of them already lived in the Polish city before the outbreak of war. 

Many of those who arrived in the past twelve months are children. Psychosocial support for them has been key, Minoves explains: "They need to live naturally, laughing, playing and receiving education." 

Another project, by Clowns Without Borders in the Polish capital, Warsaw, has received €30,000 from the Catalan Cooperation Fund.  

In total, more than €123,000 of humanitarian aid has been allocated exclusively for children who have been victims of the war. 

Helping vulnerable groups 

Other vulnerable groups have also been targeted for aid, such as members of the Gypsy community or victims of gender-based violence who are also fleeing the war. Nearly €70,000 have been sent to two organizations working with these groups in Poland.  

Salam Lab, which helps Gypsy refugees in Krakow, has invested €33,000 euros from the Catalan Cooperation Fund to try to put an end to racial conflicts that have occurred in refugee welcome centers and to move families to accommodation. 

Feminoteka has used €36,000 to organize the safe transport out of Ukraine of women that are victims of gender-based violence, and to offer them counselling support. 

Aid in Ukraine 

As well as projects in Poland, funds have been directed to Ukraine itself, mainly aimed at refugee centers for people displaced internally, an estimated 6 million, in addition to the 7.5 million refugees in Europe. 

"They don't just need food and shelter. Their lives have been broken and they need to be able to rehabilitate themselves with dignity while they can't rebuild their homes and their lives in Ukraine," Minoves says. 

The FFCD director says the response from Catalonia to the conflict has been "very positive" but admits that in recent years emergencies have had, in general, "less support" if they are compared to the mobilization of resources for major catastrophes such as Hurricane Mitch in Central America in 1998, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, or the 2010 Haiti earthquake. 

This can partly be explained, Minoves says, by the impact of the economic crisis, by the different type of empathy that natural disasters generate as opposed to war, or the accumulation of different crises over time: "We have the memory of a fish and today's crisis makes us forget yesterday's," he says, referring to the recent earthquakes affecting Turkey and Syria.