The humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Ukraine is threatening lives, infrastructure, and livelihoods, driving food shortages, and causing significant mass displacement. Over 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine in the last three weeks, and it is estimated there could be 4 million Ukrainian refugees in the region if the conflict continues. The crisis is on track to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.
Cotopaxi’s foundational purpose is to support the global population and eradicate extreme poverty. While our long term focus lies in the Americas, we are committed to supporting our impact partners when significant and unprecedented humanitarian needs arise. Mercy Corps, a long time Cotopaxi impact partner, has team members on the ground in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland, working quickly to understand the evolving needs and to support those impacted.
From Mercy Corps:
“The situation [in Ukraine] is highly fluid, and Mercy Corps’ response will remain flexible to ensure we are supporting those most in need and also in coordination with other humanitarian organizations to ensure the greatest impact. We are currently funding local organizations that know their community needs best and are already working quickly to provide assistance to refugees and Ukrainians inside the country. We expect the greatest needs to be in eastern Ukraine as intense conflict decimates food supplies, infrastructure and access to water, electricity, healthcare and all essential services.”
Current support Mercy Corps is providing in Romania, Poland, and Ukraine:
Emergency cash: Providing cash is one of the most effective and efficient ways to help people in a crisis setting. When markets are functioning, cash assistance gives families the ability to purchase what they need most and serves as a vital tool to support and jumpstart local economies. Emergency cash assistance will enable Ukrainians who remain inside the country as well as those in neighboring countries to meet basic needs during the crisis.
Support for local organizations: Mercy Corps is providing grants to local organizations to help them scale up to meet the increasing needs in their communities. One partner we’re supporting in Ukraine is sending urgently needed supplies including flour, oil, rice, buckwheat, as well as baby food and medicine to communities in the Mykolaiv region of Ukraine. One local Romanian partner we are supporting is providing medical supplies, including medicine to a monastery in Ukraine that is housing about 400 children and also has a small hospital with 100 beds. Mercy Corps is funding local Polish organizations that support shuttle transport between border crossings and reception centers, and that are receiving groups like third-country nationals. One of Mercy Corps' Polish partners is helping people at reception points with information regarding onward travel, accommodation, and food.
- Access to trusted information for families on the move: Accurate and reliable information is of paramount importance for people on the move. Access to information on things like basic services, safe routes, and legal rights helps save lives and support people to make informed decisions about what is best for them. Mercy Corps teams are working to identify the types of information most needed, and the most effective way to distribute that information - whether that is through social media platforms, websites, or SMS messages. Mercy Corps has focused on information services for refugees in other contexts, including the European refugee crisis in 2015. One of our initiatives is called Signpost, a digital platform that creates usable, relevant, and trustworthy information that meets the needs of users on the platforms they know and trust, including social media, a service map, and a website. The project is a global partnership between IRC and Mercy Corps and supports teams in 16 countries, and has reached 2 million people.
We are honored to partner with Mercy Corps on such a critical endeavor, and invite our Cotopaxi community to join us in supporting their efforts.
Listen: Mercy Corps CEO Tjada D'Oyen McKenna speak about their initial on-the-ground response to the Ukraine crisis.
About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a global team of 5,400 humanitarians working to create a world where everyone can prosper. In more than 40 countries affected by crisis, disaster, poverty, and climate change they work alongside communities, local governments, forward-thinking corporations, and social entrepreneurs to meet urgent needs and develop long-term solutions to make lasting change possible. In 2021, Mercy Corps reached over 50 million people.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: This issue is highly political here in the U.S. and is receiving a lot of news coverage. Why has Cotopaxi decided to take a stand on this particular topic?
A: First and foremost, this is a humanitarian crisis. At Cotopaxi, we affirm the equal dignity of all people and have always planted our flag alongside refugees. Further, displacement from human-caused crises is one of the greatest drivers of global poverty. To effectively counteract economic inequality, we must assist refugees.
Q: How do you decide which humanitarian crises to support?
A: There are moments when we feel we must stand up and use our networks to help those in need. Specifically, we activate when:
- A situation has impacted more than 5 million people, consequently creating a refugee crisis
- The situation was caused by human intervention (as opposed to a natural disaster)
- A standing Cotopaxi impact partner specifically reaches out for help with a campaign related to the above
As an example, Cotopaxi has been actively assisting response and resettlement for Venezuelan refugees since 2018, and in Fall 2021 we supported refugees seeking resettlement as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan.
Q: How are you ensuring that the money you are donating is reaching people who need it and not falling into the wrong hands?
A: 100% of customer donations generated through the Cotopaxi Foundation donation page between 3/15-4/15 will be donated directly to Mercy Corps, a longstanding and highly respected Cotopaxi nonprofit partner. With your support, Mercy Corps will be able to reach more Ukrainians during a crucial period.