Humanitarian assistance fully safeguarded as refugee costs increase in 2022

Published

As Sweden assumes responsibility for the many people – primarily women and children – fleeing Ukraine, the increased associated costs can be counted as Official Development Assistance (ODA) in line with OECD DAC guidelines. This is due to Ukraine’s classification as an ODA recipient. Like most other countries that provide development assistance, Sweden deducts asylum costs from development assistance. The Government has prioritised fully safeguarding humanitarian assistance and particularly ODA to the poorest countries. Even after deductions for refugee costs, Sweden remains one of the world’s largest donor countries.

To ensure that we have coverage for asylum deductions, the Government is now setting a limit on how much of this year’s aid funding can be disbursed. This ceiling is approximately SEK 9.2 billion.

The Swedish Migration Agency has presented a number of scenarios in relation to asylum seekers and people in need of temporary protection. According to the main scenario, some 76 000 people from Ukraine may seek asylum in Sweden.

Costs for reception of asylum seekers and people in need of protection from low- and middle-income countries can be counted as ODA on humanitarian grounds during the first year in the host country. This practice has been applied since 1991. The costs deducted from ODA to finance the reception of people from Ukraine would increase by just over SEK 9 billion in 2022.

If the Migration Agency’s main scenario is accurate, Sweden will deduct a total of approximately SEK 10.3 billion in 2022. This is equivalent to 18 per cent of the development assistance framework and is lower, for example, than the deductions in 2015, which were equivalent to 22 per cent of the development assistance framework.

The Government remains committed to its target of allocating one per cent of gross national income (GNI) to ODA. Sweden’s GNI has grown in recent years and in 2022 amounts to approximately SEK 57 billion. This means that Sweden’s development assistance framework is larger than ever before. Therefore, Sweden remains a major aid donor and one of the few countries that surpasses the UN recommendation to allocate at least 0.7 per cent of GNI to ODA.

Due to the decision on deductions against the development assistance budget, the Government is setting a limit on disbursements in the development assistance budget. As a result, some disbursements will be deferred or suspended, some planned disbursements will be reduced, and reprioritisations will take place.

The Government has prioritised fully safeguarding humanitarian assistance and particularly assistance to the poorest countries. Support will go to those hit hard by the pandemic and the accelerating food crisis resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Government continues to prioritise climate aid and maintains its target of doubling climate aid.

The announced deductions are based on the Migration Agency’s main scenario for the number of people needing to seek protection in the country. The number may be lower if fewer than expected arrive in Sweden. If, however, costs for refugee reception increase beyond those anticipated in the Migration Agency’s main scenario, it is not certain that those costs can be counted as ODA. In that case, the Government will consider new alternatives for broader funding.

This sudden and extensive humanitarian crisis is an exceptional situation, and many refugees in Europe need to seek protection in Sweden. Sweden’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people is immense, and we will help both those who remain in the country and those who have had to flee to other countries. Even after deductions for refugee costs, Sweden remains one of the world’s largest donor countries.