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What is the main problem with the new rules for the import of humanitarian aid that will come into effect on December 1?

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What is the main problem with the new rules for the import of humanitarian aid that will come into effect on December 1?

At the beginning of winter, the rules for importing humanitarian aid into Ukraine are changing. Find out why volunteers oppose the new rules, how it will complicate the importation of aid, and how the authorities justify the need for innovation

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As we reported earlier, starting from December 1, 2023, the rules for importing and accounting for humanitarian aid in Ukraine will change. The relevant decision was made by the Cabinet of Ministers on September 5 this year. According to the Ministry of Social Policy, such a measure is necessary to more effectively combat the illegal importation of goods and profiteering from humanitarian aid, but the adoption of the resolution caused outrage from volunteers and organizations working with humanitarian aid. 


Thus, on October 16, 2023, a petition was posted on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine regarding the "Postponement of the entry into force and amendments to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 953 of 05.09.2023". In just a few days, the petition gained the required 25,000 votes, and now it must be considered by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.


The article below explains what exactly the volunteers' dissatisfaction is, why they oppose the new rules, and what counterarguments the authorities put forward.


What is the problem with the new rules for humanitarian aid?


The main argument of volunteer organizations and volunteers is that the new rules will slow down the process of importing and distributing humanitarian aid. According to the adopted resolution, starting December 1, everyone involved in importing or receiving aid from foreign partners must register in the Unified Register of Humanitarian Aid Recipients using an electronic signature. After that, the cargo must undergo a mandatory declaration, and it should take no more than 30 days from receiving a "unique number" to actually crossing the border. 


And after the customs checks the declared cargo with the actual cargo at the border, the volunteers will have until the 15th of the next month (but not more than 90 days) to create an electronic report on how much rubber aid was transferred and to whom, how much is left in the warehouses, and what part of these goods was not checked and not accepted by the organization/foundation.


First of all, volunteers will no longer be able to use letters of request from military units or the military themselves in need of certain equipment or machinery to import humanitarian aid, which are now the basis for goods entering Ukraine with zero customs clearance.


Secondly, volunteers complain that it is often impossible to predict how long it will take for a certain cargo to reach the Ukrainian border, and therefore the 30-day deadline severely limits their options.


In addition, in order to properly declare goods, recipients need to know the exact list and quantity of goods that are coming to them, which is not always possible. After all, foreign partners can transfer the goods, completing the aid at their discretion, and secondly, when the volunteer vehicle is already on its way to Ukraine, other goods can be added to it, including medicines, drones, or other ammunition requested by the military. This means that the declaration will no longer correspond to the actual list of goods in the vehicle.


At the same time, the new resolution does not regulate the activities of volunteers who purchase equipment, vehicles and ammunition with the funds raised and bring them to Ukraine on their own. Therefore, it is unclear what legal framework they should operate in.




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What do the authorities say about the new rules for importing humanitarian aid?


Ukraine needs internal reforms to fight corruption and illicit enrichment, and unfortunately, humanitarian aid is one of the areas that needs to be strictly controlled, as hundreds of criminal proceedings have been registered in Ukraine regarding the misuse of humanitarian aid.


In addition, the Ministry of Social Policy emphasizes that reporting was already a mandatory part of the work of charitable organizations and foundations, and therefore this should not create additional problems, as the reporting will simply be transferred to a single online register. At the same time, responding to complaints from volunteers, they note that it is possible to create a declaration immediately before crossing the border to ensure that the information in it is correct.


Thus, many questions remain unanswered, and the Ministry of Social Policy promises to resolve a number of "gaps" in the near future. In addition, it is possible that a so-called "test period" will be introduced, when charitable organizations and foundations will be able to "familiarize themselves" with the technical component of the new reporting system, but there is still no final decision.


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Photo: Depositphotos


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