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Points of Clarity | Why Does UNHCR Provide Cash Assistance Instead of Physical Supplies?

February 20, 20241:04

In addition to supplying physical foreign aid, UNHCR also implements a cash assistance program in Ukraine. How can cash assistance help to revive local economies and re-empower displaced persons and refugees?


Video Transcript

  • This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    So why does UNHCR provide cash assistance to refugees? Well, it's pretty simple. First off, it's not really cash assistance. It's a smartcard with benefits on it. But by using cash. What it does is it's good for the local economy. Those who are receiving the benefits go to a local shop and spend the money. That's good for the local economy.

    Secondly, it minimizes fraud, waste and abuse. Third, it's much faster. It's much faster to provide a smart card than it is to actually provide food stuffs or blankets or whatever it may be. But the final reason, or perhaps the most important reason, when you give people purchasing power with those smart cards, you preserve human dignity. They may need to be displaced, they may be refugees, they may be far from home, but they get to make decisions for their family.

    And human dignity is important.


Ambassador Mark Green

Ambassador Mark A. Green

President & CEO, Wilson Center
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