ODU board concerned about access for aid to Ukraine

January 22, 2020

ODU - HUMANITARIAN · The board of OpenDoorUkraine.NL (ODU) has expressed concern about the difficulties that Dutch humanitarian organisations have in delivering aid to Ukraine. In a letter to the Ukrainian ambassador in The Hague, ODU’s chairman of the Board of Trustees Joris Voorhoeve has asked for clarification from the authorities in Kyiv.
The Board hopes that the Ukrainian government will discuss with its counterparts in Warsaw the shortage of Polish permissions for truck drivers to transport humanitarian goods across Poland. This is causing rising transportation costs, while the long waiting time at the border can cause goods to deteriorate.

Another worry is a new regulation in Ukraine that forbids the import of used goods. Such goods are now precisely a large part of the assistance to people in need in Ukraine, and do not interfere in the country’s domestic market. 

Full text of ODU letter to the Ukrainian ambassador:

The Hague, January 22nd 2020

Subject: difficulties to Dutch-Ukrainian humanitarian aid transports 

Dear Mr. Ambassador, 

A number of Dutch civil society and church-related organizations in The Netherlands which cooperate with civil and various church organizations in Ukraine, to help relieve the needs of elderly, children, war victims and other people in parts of your country, are meeting difficulties in the transportation of relief goods to your country. These difficulties discourage those who are gladly willing to cooperate with the population, civil society and church organizations in Ukraine. On behalf of a number of such organizations in The Netherlands and also their counterparts in Ukraine, I would like to respectfully request the government of Ukraine to clarify to us what the present regulations are for transporting, receiving and distributing relief goods in Ukraine and for cooperation with Ukrainian civil society, and also inform us about the priorities which your government wants to propose to foreign humanitarian organizations.
The difficulties we encounter repeatedly are the following. In the last months of the year, there is a shortage of permissions for truck drivers with relief goods to travel through Poland. This matter we can discuss with Polish authorities but we hope also the Ukrainian Government would draw the attention of the Polish authorities concerned and agree on a solution. The costs of transportation permits increase rapidly, while the financial value of such goods is relatively low. Some truckloads are halted and kept for long periods by border authorities, sometimes more than 3 months, during which spoilable goods deteriorate. After waiting many weeks and months, the aid organizations are told that they need to pay for the long storage, and take the goods back or pay a fine. This reduces their funds and goods for distribution to the needy and has a very negative effect on their daily lives. 

Another question is that we hear from our Ukrainian partners that new regulations will be adopted which forbid the importation of used goods, even if they are still very useful to needy persons. We would like to clarify that we only provide humanitarian goods to the most needy and do not interfere in the Ukrainian domestic market. We do not sell any relief goods. We focus on urgent needs of the most vulnerable people and assist Ukrainian civil society organizations and social church groups to become increasingly self-reliant. We avoid and prevent aid-dependency and always try to encourage independent growth of the domestic capacity in Ukraine to take care of its needy. 

We would like to receive from the government of Ukraine all necessary information about the present and expected future official policies and rules of Ukraine for humanitarian projects, in order to cooperate with you as well as we can, and avoid in the future unnecessary delays which are at the cost of Ukrainian needy and also demotivate Dutch donors. We do not want to push aid that is not first of all wanted by the Ukrainian people but try to be efficient, effective and demand-driven and help those in need. 

We would very much appreciate it, if you could forward our request to the authorities concerned in your Government. 

Respectfully Yours, 

Joris Voorhoeve,
Chair Board of Trustees, OpenDoorUkraine.NL 

[Photo: Trucks at Polish border station Korczowa waiting to enter Ukraine, by Anna Sulewska]