Solidarity and support for Ukraine from across the Euroconsumers network
We deeply condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine, the atrocities committed and the spread of disinformation. We express our solidarity with all those affected and fully support humanitarian and diplomatic efforts to help lead to peace. Across Europe, Euroconsumers’ members have been taking action to help the people of Ukraine and consumers affected by the war and the resulting refugee and economic crisis.
The war in Ukraine affects us all
In an interconnected world, the war in Ukraine affects us all. As the economic, social and humanitarian shockwaves reverberate our members are here to give information and advice on directly supporting the people of Ukraine and on adapting to the economic fall out. People want to know how best to support Ukraine as the country and its people face uncertainty and suffering.
Countless people and organisations are coming together to do what they can to help, our members in Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal included. This blog shares links to advice and information including from across our membership.
1. Getting donations to the right place
Many Europeans are keen to know the best way to donate money to help people in Ukraine, but may not know the best place to go or are wary of scams. Our Italian member Altroconsumo has recommended a donation scheme organised by the international Red Cross and a smaller scheme to specifically help Ukrainian children needing life-saving treatment for cancer.
Altroconsumo also provide some top tips for ensuring that donations are going to an effective and trustworthy organisation. While each country will have its own laws and accreditation schemes for charities, the general advice from Altroconsumo stands for every situation including:
Reviewing key information such as addresses, telephone numbers, up to date pages and relevant registration details or trust marks
Looking for clear explanations about how donations are used
Checking the finances: trustworthy organisations are more likely to be transparent, look for up to date, audited financial statements. You don’t need to study them in detail but check that spending is predominantly for projects on the ground.
2. Avoid scams and find reputable donation sites
Sadly and inevitably, a number of scam sites have emerged to exploit people’s generosity. Cryptoscammers have popped up on TikTok and Instagram asking for money, and fake charities are being set up to fraudulently attract donations. Illegitimate organisations are unlikely to be able to provide convincing information - again, look at their website for details and registration information.
The less there is the more likely they are to be unscrupulous, if in doubt give your donation to an established, international organisation with a track record in conflict support and assistance.
If you want to donate internationally, the following reputable and long-established international organisations are accepting regular or one-off donations:
International Committee of the Red Cross is raising money to improve the living conditions of Ukrainians whose homes have been damaged by heavy fighting.
UN Refugee Agency is providing aid and protection to families fleeing their homes in Ukraine
UNICEF is providing humanitarian supplies for vulnerable Ukrainian children and families, including health, education, protection and sanitation.
MSF - Médecins Sans Frontières: Medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders is providing emergency medical aid to people in Ukraine, and those sheltering in neighbouring countries.
WHO | World Health Organization Foundation: is delivering healthcare services in Ukraine and has set up an emergency appeal.
3. Helping and hosting refugees
Millions of mostly women, children and older people have been forced to leave Ukraine to seek safe shelter in other countries. Specialist advisors at Deco Proteste have created a detailed article on how to obtain special temporary protection in Portugal, aimed at people fleeing the country, and for those who want to assist refugees. Staff at Deco Proteste have launched a drive to collect money and essential goods for refugees.
Test-Achats/Test-Aankoop will be donating money to both UNICEF and 12-12, a consortium of Belgian and international relief organisations. The organisation is also organising material support for their employees who are taking in Ukrainian refugees. Test-Achats/Test-Aankoop has created a guide to welcoming and supporting Ukrainian refugees, a helpful pdf has been created with information in Ukrainian, French, Dutch and English.
4. Economic shocks and price rises
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has already had an effect on the prices of energy, fuels and even food. Prices were already high before the conflict, and consumers now face even sharper inflationary surges. Spanish member OCU has written of their concern that as the conflict continues, consumers will face ever more exorbitant prices or even restrictions. Their concerns are shared by our other members.
Energy and fuel prices will stay high
OCU estimate gas bills could rise by up to €136 per month, and electricity bills by €50. They have called for an immediate, temporary lifting of consumer energy taxes. Deco Proteste takes a detailed look at the current volatility in world energy markets. They reassure that the energy supply is secure for individual countries who hold reserves, but that the conflict has exacerbated long term concerns in the EU about over reliance on third countries for energy supply. For individual consumers, they advise continuing to reduce their energy use and invest in energy efficient products where possible.
The EU must accelerate its goal of energy independence in order to keep prices and supply steady. In the meantime, immediate measures are required to guarantee affordability and safeguard vulnerable and poorer consumers’ needs. Petrol and diesel are subject to similar price volatility. OCU have dedicated an article to the effect of the invasion on the cost of liquid fuels used primarily for vehicles.
Imports: higher prices, less availability
Much of the basic foodstuffs like cereals, grains, pulses and seeds imported into the EU come from Ukraine. Spanish member OCU has covered the impact of the war on their availability and price. They’ve also issued warnings about the stockpiling of particular products.
They point out that basic foodstuffs have already risen hugely in recent years (for example, 113% for wheat, 95% for corn) and the war will only make things worse. In these circumstances, it is the most vulnerable families who will be squeezed the most.
Russia and Ukraine also supply raw materials like aluminum and nickel to the West, which are essential for tech devices and appliances. Sanctions and blockades will mean less supply and higher prices for these materials which will be passed onto consumers.
5. Protecting your pensions and investments
Millions of consumers rely on investment funds for their future pension or family security. In times of conflict, the stock market becomes even more unpredictable. Even experienced investors wonder what action to take to protect assets. With very recent experience of the impact on pensions during the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, our members are advising and reassuring consumers on how best manage and understand market movements.
Investment experts at OCU advise that faced with such uncertainty, it is vital not to panic but to consider a longer term strategy that diversifies risk and to try to take advantage of the opportunities that may exist.
Deco Proteste has produced two detailed articles on how consumers can protect their investments, savings and retirement funds, and on the latest changes in investment advice.