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Report: Navigating narratives in Ukraine: humanitarian response amid solidarity and resistance

October 4, 2023 | News, Reports
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ODI has released its latest report, examining the narratives surrounding the war in Ukraine. The report was produced in collaboration with the Migration Consortium and the British Red Cross. The authors of the report look at how donors, policymakers, international NGOs, the media and local actors use narratives to shape perceptions, policies and responses.

More information and the report itself are available here: https://odi.org/en/publications/navigating-narratives-in-ukraine-humanitarian-response-amid-solidarity-and-resistance/.

Key messages:

  • The narratives used by Western governments and publics to frame motivations for supporting Ukraine have focused on a partisan sense of solidarity. Such solidarity narratives present humanitarian aid as an extension of wider political and military support for Ukraine.
  • Narratives of solidarity have created challenging dynamics between governments, local humanitarian responders and traditional humanitarian actors. This includes a clash between narratives of solidarity and the humanitarian principles used by traditional humanitarian actors to frame their operations.
  • Media coverage of the war has been marked by narratives framing the war as a ‘different kind of crisis’ and Ukrainian refugees as a ‘different kind of refugee’. This has contributed to a hierarchy of refugee protection in Europe: a warm welcome towards Ukrainians contrasts sharply with hardline policies towards other groups.
  • There was a missed opportunity to reshape international fundraising narratives to centre the existing local humanitarian response in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Instead, international actors reverted to business as usual, with limited focus on these efforts. As a result, little funding has gone directly to local actors, despite their leading role in the response.
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