Donations to Ukrainian aid organizations in Estonia drying up

A donation collection point run by the Estonian Refugee Council at the former Ekraan movie theater in Tartu. March 15, 2022.
A donation collection point run by the Estonian Refugee Council at the former Ekraan movie theater in Tartu. March 15, 2022. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Donations made to Estonian organizations, which support Ukraine have started to dry up. While in the immediate aftermath of Russia's full-scale invasion, Estonians gave several million euros per month to help provide aid to Ukraine, now monthly donations average only a few thousand euros.

In cooperation with the Ukrainian Rescue Service, voluntary organization the Estonian Rescue Association (Päästelii) collects donations to help meet the most basic needs of Ukrainian rescue workers, including vital equipment.

For instance, the Rescue Association is currently working to supply Ukrainian demining units with metal detectors and personal protective equipment. Piia Kallas, head of the Rescue Association, said that the number of donations to the organization had decreased significantly when compared to the early months of the war.

"While in March last year we received more than €4 million to support Ukrainian rescuers, last month we received a little over €5,000, or 0.10 per cent of what we received a year ago," she said.

The situation is similar for other aid agencies. The Estonian Refugee Council's head of communications Madle Timm said, that their organization has received around €6 million in donations since Russia's full-scale invasion. However, the amount donated in February this year was €20,000.

According to Erika Tšerkašina, head of Estonian NGO Mondo's humanitarian aid activities in Ukraine, a year ago, they received €880,000 in donations from a combination of almost 10,000 individuals and 176 companies. In February this year, Mondo's donations totaled just €24,000, from five companies and 240 people.

Liis Ehrminger, head of communications at the Estonian Red Cross (Punane Rist), told a similar story. According to Ehrminger, while several hundred thousand euros a month were donated to the organization last spring, in February 2023, the Red Cross received only €2,200.

"It is clear that people donate more when the news [of events in Ukraine] is fresh. Our system of giving is such, that when we receive a specific request for help from the Ukrainian Red Cross, we respond," said Ehrminger.

"We now know, that Ukraine has given us advance information to suggest that there will be a new request for assistance in the coming days. We don't know the amount and we don't know the content [of the request], but at the moment, we can probably still respond because we have some donations left. However, there is a fear of course, that we might not be able to respond to the next appeal," Ehrminger said.

Piia Kallas of the Rescue Association said, that the amount received in donations started to fall from the autumn. As a result, the association plans to run only targeted campaigns in the future, to raise funds for very specific equipment which the Ukrainian rescue services require.

"What I mean is targeted campaigns, so that if there is a need for some type of specific equipment or other items, we can make an appeal," said Kallas.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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