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IFAW worked with partners in Ukraine during the 2014 Crimea crisis, and we stood by those same shelters when Russia invaded in February 2022. Through our strong partnerships, we provided preemptive aid to animal shelters in Ukraine as they prepared for the invasion.
In addition, we rapidly expanded our emergency response efforts in Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Moldova. We supported wildlife rescue centers and sanctuaries with evacuating and transporting wildlife into safer areas. Our disaster response team deployed to Poland for two months to work at the busiest border crossing point with Ukraine, providing critical aid in the form of basic veterinary care, animal food and pet supplies. Until the end of June 2022, we also had two IFAW-supported Ukrainian veterinarians assisting refugees and their pets entering Poland via the Przemyśl train station.
IFAW continues to grant emergency funds for food, supplies and veterinary care to animal shelters and wildlife rescue facilities to help animals in need.
We have received enormous generosity during the Ukraine crisis and we’re so grateful for all of that incredible support. IFAW raised over USD $13M. This generosity allowed us to grant funds for emergency aid, deploy teams to the ground, provide critical resources to those who need it most and hopefully soon, also start preparing for the recovery and rebuilding phase. We are still receiving requests for aid daily.
Below is a summary of our topline Ukraine financials as per 30 September 2023:
All our financial information, including donations received, is publicly available in our annual report.
We are grateful to have received a tremendous amount of worldwide support and goodwill. New requests are added daily, but as of 30 September 2023, we have given a total of 130 grants—103 grants to partners inside Ukraine and another 27 grants in surrounding countries. Close to USD $2.6M has been paid in grants issued to support emergency needs for companion animals, wildlife and their owners impacted by the war.
Since February 2022, we are implementing a comprehensive, rescue and recovery plan in Ukraine. Our Ukraine Rescue project is shaped along two main initiatives:
Under the One Health principle, the health of human beings, animals and the environment are interlinked. By helping animals, we improve the mental health of their owners too as we reduce the stress and psychological impact of the chaos of a disaster and their concerns over their pets’ well-being.
From late March 2022 to mid-May 2022, IFAW-trained responders and veterinarians managed the only animal care tent at the Medyka border crossing between Poland and Ukraine. We distributed thousands of dollars’ worth of animal food, leashes, collars, pet carriers and clothing to refugees and their pets. Over the seven weeks that IFAW managed the tent, our team cared for 2,425 pets.
We are also partnered with the Chief Veterinary Office of Poland to support veterinary needs and provide pet supplies at the Przemyśl train station. Our veterinarians from Ukraine were funded by IFAW and supported the Polish veterinarians in examining, vaccinating and microchipping 3,355 pets.
Between March and May 2022, 43 IFAW responders, including seven veterinarians, deployed to greet and care for refugees and their pets as they entered Poland and began the next part of their journey. Our responders came from all over the world to help: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica.
IFAW does not currently plan to open an office in Ukraine or surrounding countries. IFAW has country offices in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Belgium, and various staff members work on disaster response activities in the broader European region.
We do, however, have a dedicated Ukraine Rescue project team to specifically implement recovery and rebuilding activities in Ukraine, working closely with in-country strategic partners. The team consists of four staff members, three of whom are Ukrainians – one living in Kyiv still and two who are currently living in Belgium and the Netherlands respectively.
As of 30 September 2023, IFAW directly helped close to 150,000 companion animals (most of whom cats and dogs) and wild animals like bears, bats, swans, wild hamsters, deer, lions and tigers. In addition to helping animals in crisis, we also supported the incredible families and caretakers of those animals.
IFAW mobilized over a hundred people to support this response. Rescuers and veterinarians on the ground worked 24/7 and for several months helping animals and refugees as they came across the border from Ukraine into Poland. Staff in our offices continue to answer emails and questions we receive from around the world.
We continue to support animal rescue and relief efforts wherever possible. We also keep providing grants to help partners and other organizations who take care of animals in Ukraine and surrounding countries. When the time comes, IFAW will transition into the recovery phase of our crisis response.
IFAW is known for our frontline emergency response work and long-term recovery commitments. We plan to address the welfare needs of companion animals and wildlife (both captive and native) with the following priorities.
1. Protect wildlife and native habitats
2. Include animals in disaster planning and develop infrastructure for animals in crisis
3. Promote healthy people and animals to minimize disease transmission
IFAW will continue to provide critical aid—veterinary care, animal food, emergency funds, pet supplies—where it is needed most. Our current plan for the recovery phase focuses on improving animal welfare standards and practices.
We build strategic and strong networks across Europe be able to immediately address crisis needs in the region. IFAW’s advocacy and policy work in Europe focuses on Response, Risk Reduction and Preparedness. We promote the inclusion of animals in national and regional disaster preparedness and response plans. We are advocating for animals to be included in European governments’ national disaster plans.
We believe that collaboration with partners magnifies our impact, particularly during times of crisis.
Careful coordination allows us to avoid any duplication of effort and ensures all resources are deployed efficiently. While working on the Ukraine crisis, we have partnered with many organizations, including, but not limited to: EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), EARS, Four Paws, HSI (Humane Society International), Dogs Trust International, WSAVA/USAVA, FVE (Federation of Veterinarians of Europe), ICAM, Greater Good Charities, World Central Kitchen, Vets Without Borders, and the veterinary authorities of Romania and Moldova.
Going forward, we will continue to incorporate strategic partners, including government agencies, to strengthen sustainable interventions and recovery in the region.
We remain transparent about the costs and risks of directing donor funds and managing a major rescue effort. The administrative fees reflect this financial reality and our commitment to direct funds to where they are needed most, along with the costs of managing such an effort.
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