Politics Explained

Why is the UK’s emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine taking so long?

Help with military hardware is one thing – but Ukraine needs humantarian aid to deal with the longer-term fallout from war, writes Sean O’Grady

Tuesday 19 April 2022 21:30
<p>Britain promised a £220m humanitarian aid package for Ukrainians such as these residents of Mariupol </p>

Britain promised a £220m humanitarian aid package for Ukrainians such as these residents of Mariupol

There is always, it would seem, going to be something about a weapon of war that garners more attention than a food parcel. So it is with the war in Ukraine, where the west is heartily congratulating itself for sending the Ukrainians what the military types call “lethal aid” rather than the stuff that saves lives in other ways, such as medicines, clean water, shelter and sustenance.

It is no surprise that politicians tend to want to associate themselves with the state-of-the-art missile systems, and neglect the awkward fact that some western nations are still buying Russian oil and gas, and failing to help the millions of displaced people and refugees inside, and fleeing from, Ukraine.

The contrast is most stark in the British case. The Ministry of Defence was one of the most alert to the Russian threat, not least because of excellent intelligence. The flow of defensive weaponry to the Kyiv authorities began quietly some time before the invasion. According to reports, British anti-tank weaponry have gained something of a cult status among Ukrainian troops, and ever-more sophisticated anti-aircraft systems are being supplied. The prime minister has been vocal in his support, and was brave enough to visit Volodymyr Zelensky in person recently.

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