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Why billionaires are setting up family offices in Singapore
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Why billionaires are setting up family offices in Singapore

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Asia’s billionaires are getting ready to hand over to the next generation, and Singapore is benefiting from the rush to set up new or satellite family offices with an increased focus on philanthropy and impact investing.

In recent months, Horizon Ventures, a private investment firm associated with Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing opened an outpost in Singapore.* Oppenheimer Generations, the family office of former De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer, is also in Singapore while Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio and Google co-founder Sergey Brin both set up shop in late 2020.

Singapore’s Economic Development Board is doing everything in its power to reel them in. It has enlisted the private banking sector to help family offices’ interest in philanthropy and impact investing, which seeks to generate a social or environmental impact as well as a financial return.

Two years ago, the Singapore government introduced variable capital companies (VCC), fund management vehicles with tax incentives and other benefits. These are appealing for family offices, particularly those with an interest in changing the world.

“Philanthropy is the new black in Asia,” said one private banker who advises the wealthy. “Singapore prides itself on being a financial hub and to keep that reputation, it needs to set the pace on new trends like green investing and impact investing.”

Asia is behind Europe and the United States, where philanthropy has long been a business that’s expected to generate measurable returns and the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have pioneered impact investing.

This is likely to shift with the looming generational change in wealth, said Peter Golovsky, managing director and head of family office services, Asia Pacific, at Alvarium, a global multi-family office.

“Some 85 per cent of Asia’s billionaires are first-generation wealth creators, founders of family businesses.

“Their average age is 65, so they are looking at succession strategies. Family office allocations in impact investments sit at around 12 per cent, but we expect that to double in the next few years, and it will be driven by the next generation.

“Singapore has attracted a lot of wealth through structures like VCCs and other tax incentives, including residency options and paths to citizenship.

“As global families and entrepreneurs, including philanthropists, think about where they want to set up and run their businesses, and where they want to live, I think there will be another step up,” he said.

One measure of interest in social investing is a sold-out conference on the topic, organised by industry group AVPN, that kicks off next Tuesday in Bali.

Despite this increased interest, impact investing structures have a long way to go, according to Mette Ekeroth, managing director and group head of philanthropy at the North-East Family Office, who will be at the conference.

NEFO was established by the founders of the Pandora jewellery brand, Winnie Liljeborg and Per Algot Enevoldsen, in Denmark in 2013. They opened a Singapore office three years later.

“Regulatory systems all over the world treat philanthropy and investment as very, very separate. Now everyone is realising there is an area between these two categories where a lot of the solutions lie to the problems the world faces,” Ms Ekeroth said.

“I have faith that Singapore is going to be the place that comes up with the structures we need. The authorities are engaging and consulting as they work multiple angles to try and address the gaps. We’ve seen in the past that when Singapore really wants to develop an ecosystem, it does, and it does it at high speed.”

*Clarification: After this story was published, CK Asset Holdings has advised Horizons Ventures is owned by Ms Solina Chau. Mr Li has collaborated with the firm on technology projects.

This article was originally published in The Australian Financial Review here.

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Stories Of Impact

Over $9 million raised for CFS’s Sayang Sayang Fund benefitting over 130,000 beneficiaries

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The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) launched the Sayang Sayang Fund (SSF) in Feb 2020 as an emergency response fund, aimed to benefit Singapore’s underserved communities impacted by COVID-19.

As a result of the keen generosity from Singapore’s general public, over $9 million had been raised, enabling the SSF to expand its scope to support nine initiatives to ensure that the most vulnerable in Singapore’s communities did not fall through the cracks. This was made possible through CFS’s highly proficient understanding of grantmaking and close collaboration with our valued community partners. This was swiftly translated into impact supporting 298 grantee organisations and 136,000 beneficiaries.

“It is with great pleasure that we thank all our partners and donors for their unwavering generosity in such times of adversity. CFS is honored to have brought together so many people from all walks to life to help those most vulnerable in need. 

Without everyone’s support, neither the Sayang Sayang Fund nor its initiatives would have been birthed. We are humbled and proud of the part that CFS has played to be able to be in such a privileged position to do what we did,’’ says Joyce Teo, Deputy CEO of CFS.

Some of the initiatives that were supported by the SSF included SeniorsOK@Home, which provided relief to seniors unable to leave their homes because of social distancing measures, Recess@Home, which provided meal subsidies for needy students during their Home Based Learning (HBL) period and MigrantsOK@Home, which extended care towards our migrant workers in the form of free top-ups in their prepaid cards to call their loved ones at home.

The emergency response funds were able to reach recipients promptly due to the Fund’s nimbleness, alongside the combined efforts of informal grassroots networks and community groups outside of the regular charitable bureaucratic systems.

A summary on the SSF funds disbursed so far

CFS aims to disburse all of the donations raised to our allocated partners and beneficiaries. To date, over $7 million has been disbursed. The charity partners were required to provide a comprehensive report on how these funds were used and whether they were fully utilised.

Giving relief to migrant workers

CFS worked with Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME), Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) and Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) to provide funding for our migrant workers, whose assistance has been invaluable and support to this community would not have been possible without their help.

In total, $200,000 had been disbursed by the MigrantsOK@Home initiative through our partners, benefitting 90,000 migrant workers with care packages and free prepaid top ups.

“We are very happy to have CFS partner with us to support our migrant workers in the factory-converted dormitories,” says MWC Chairman Yeo Guat Kwang. “We are really very thankful to everyone for giving a helping hand to our migrant workers in this challenging time.”

Aiding the elderly with AIC

More than $1.5 million was also disbursed to seniors for assistance through the SSF through the SeniorsOK@Home initiative, who received immediate aid, food supplies, necessities and medical supplies.

CFS collaborated closely with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and other agencies to distribute relief to this particularly vulnerable community. Much needed funding was delivered to nursing homes and other community care providers to enhance precautionary measures during the pandemic, and also to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the staff and residents of more than 90 community healthcare organisations.

300 infrared thermometers were also developed and distributed by CFS through the initiative, and helped to reduce the manpower required for temperature taking at nursing homes, hospices and eldercare centers, where manpower was sorely lacking during the COVID19 period.

‘’During this period, it is important that we combine efforts with our partners to support seniors in a timely manner. The Sayang Sayang Fund, within a short time frame, has helped to channel significant and meaningful support for our Community Care partners and seniors,’’ says Tan Kwang Cheak, CEO, AIC.

Distributing meals to needy students with the Ministry of Education (MOE)

Much credit goes to CFS’s partnership with the Ministry of Education with the Recess@Home initiative. The persistent efforts of the dedicated civil servants in MOE shone through, as they worked tirelessly with CFS in disbursing funds to needy students in the fastest way possible.

More than $1.3 million has been disbursed through MOE to the Recess@Home initiative and helping more than 28,000 needy students to receive their meals. The subsidies were disbursed via top-ups to the students’ School Smartcard which students could use to purchase food and essential groceries at some hawker centres, food courts, minimarts, convenience stores and supermarkets.

“Thank you for helping us with our daily expenses during the circuit break period. It really helped our family financially as our parents do not have enough money to give us pocket money every day. Having this really helped us because sometimes we try to save the money our parents give us. We are really grateful because not many people have this opportunity.’’ said Primary 6 sisters, Liyana and Hanayani.  

Putting a roof over the heads of rough sleepers with SafeSleep@Home

For the initiative SafeSleep@Home, almost $200,000 was disbursed to help more than 300 rough sleepers to find shelter during the circuit breaker period and obtain more permanent housing in the long term. The funds also went towards providing them with daily necessities and food supplies.

CFS has collaborated with four charity partners to provide temporary housing, overhead support, and home transition funds for over 300 individuals, including families. About 10 percent had successfully transitioned into long-term permanent housing, while the rest are in the process of doing so.

Other Community Grants disbursed by CFS

Through our community partner Filos Community Services, CARE packs were distributed to 250 vulnerable and isolated elderly and 50 low income families. These CARE packs contained tip sheets on hygiene, hand washing, use of masks, home exercises and helplines. Essentials such as antiseptic soaps, dettol, vitamin c, tissue packs, stretch bands or water bottles to be used for home exercises, thermometers, biscuits and milo, hand sanitizer and masks were also included.

CFS also supported community partner Petapis, and provided funds to purchase essentials to 4 of their residential welfare homes to mitigate the risks of the infection such as personal protective equipment (PPEs) and thermometers. 300 beneficiaries benefitted from the essentials that the funds provided.

“The Sayang Sayang Fund’s measure of success is not by how much it has raised, but by the number of smiles on the faces of all the people it has helped. I feel tremendous gratitude for our partners both government and community, who have come together so compassionately to give aid to those in Singapore who are most in need. Thank you for your steadfast efforts and generosity,’’ says Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS.

To find out more about Sayang Sayang Fund, please visit https://www.cf.org.sg/sayangsayangfund/

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News

Media release: CFS and NVPC initiate cross-sector collaborative effort to help disadvantaged young persons in Singapore

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  • Partnership between CFS and NVPC formed Colabs, to drive collaboration among the public, private and social sectors to tackle complex social issues
  • First series tackles social mobility of disadvantaged young persons in Singapore

Singapore, July 2, 2018– The Community Foundation of Singapore (“CFS”) and the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (“NVPC”) have partnered to catalyse collaboration among the public, private and social sectors.

Colabs, an initiative by CFS and NVPC, drives collaboration by bringing together philanthropists, businesses, non-profits and sector experts to share knowledge, exchange ideas and co-create solutions. More than 100 representatives from 56 stakeholders took part in the first Colabs series that focused on the needs of disadvantaged young persons. These comprised government ministries, statutory boards, multi-national corporations, private companies, foundations, individual philanthropists, academics and non-profit organisations.

In addition, CFS and NVPC have released a guide to provide funders from various sectors of society with practical ways to help disadvantaged young persons in Singapore. The guide, titled ‘A Call for Collaborative Giving: Closing the Gap for Disadvantaged Young Persons’, capturesinsights uncoveredby the diverse group of stakeholders who met to discussthe issues, and outlines clear recommendations for collective action.

“Collaboration is the way forward, as the scale, scope and complexity of social issues today makes it impossible for a single player or the government to solve alone,” said CFS Deputy Chief Executive Officer Joyce Teo. “By leveraging our shared expertise, skills and resources, collaborative partnerships offer donors opportunities to bring about more impactful social change.”

NVPC Director of Strategic Partnership Darrel Lim elaborated: “While there are numerous programmes by organisations to address current issues, there are still gaps, challenges, and constraints faced by beneficiaries and social services. Colabs is a platform which brings together like-minded stakeholders to learn and share insights, uncover gaps in the current system and collectively devise ways to plug these gaps.”

The Colabs series on disadvantaged young persons focused on whether education is a game changer for improving their social mobility. Over the course of eight months, participants shared and heard from sector experts, beneficiaries, and donors. Through roundtable talks, workshops, as well as a field trip and poverty simulation exercise, participants learnt about the challenges that prevent disadvantaged young persons from doing well in life, and the types of support currently available.

Elaine Loo, Director of Central Youth Guidance Office, Ministry of Social and Family Development, commented, “Colabs connects stakeholders across the various sectors to facilitate the sharing of perspectives and nudge collective efforts to address issues that our children and youth are facing today. Networks such as these are useful platforms that allow public agencies to hear directly from stakeholders, including our private sector partners.”

Colabs participants found that while education can help bridge social gaps, not every child can fully tap into the benefits that education can bring. Economic, social, and cultural differences also contribute to a greater degree of variance in Singaporean students’ academic performance compared to students from other countries[1], and social gaps may widen if disadvantaged young persons here are not given the help they need.

Disadvantaged young persons here face multiple challenges. Parents tend to work long hours or hold shift jobs, leaving little time to attend to their children’s learning needs. They often shoulder more adult responsibilities[2]. This can result in poorer literacy development and academic performance, and may lead to psychological issues such as depression and other conditions[3].

“It is difficult to have a ‘one size fits all’ solution because circumstances vary from person to person. Instead, harnessing collective expertise towards providing a variety of support structures with the capacity to consider unique individual needs will result in greater, longer lasting impact,” noted Benjamin Teo, social worker and Centre Director at SHINE Children & Youth Services.

The Colabs guide outlines three different levels on which aspiring changemakers can make a difference through philanthropy and/or volunteerism. Firstly, there are programme-level initiatives which affect young persons directly. These involve supporting new programmes or enhancing existing ones. Secondly, there are organisational-level initiatives that target to strengthen non-profit organisations’ capacity and capabilities; these can significantly impact outcomes across many programmes. Lastly, funders can choose to invest resources on sector-level initiatives that will impact the wider ecosystem, such as the development of multi-stakeholder data sharing platforms. More details can be found on pages 10 to 13 of the guide, which can be downloaded here.

A second Colabs series focusing on persons with disabilities has concluded and a third Colabs series focusing on seniors will commence later this year.

END

About Colabs
Colabs is a philanthropic initiative by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and the Community Foundation of Singapore. It drives collaboration by bringing together the public, private and social sectors to tackle complex social issues. It enables philanthropists, businesses, non-profits and sector experts to collectively build insights and co-create solutions for lasting change.

About the Community Foundation of Singapore
The Community Foundation of Singapore (“CFS”) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2008 to encourage and enable philanthropy in Singapore. We match donors’ interests with causes and offer ways for them to make a greater impact through their charitable funds. We also collaborate with charity partners to identify and develop programmes that support diverse communities. Our purpose is to create real and meaningful change while building a philanthropic culture in Singapore. CFS is a registered charity with Institution of a Public Character status.

About the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre
The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre is an independent not-for-profit organisation that advocates giving in Singapore. Our vision is for Singapore to be a Giving Nation and to cultivate a strong culture of contribution where giving is part of every Singaporean’s DNA. We work closely with charities, corporates, public sector agencies, institutions as well as the community to build a robust ecosystem to make giving simple, fun and meaningful.

[1]According to the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (“PISA”) international survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”). The latest PISA survey results show that ESCS differences account for 16.8%, 17.0%, 15.1% of the variance in Singapore students’ performance in science, reading, and mathematics, compared to the OECD average of 12.9%, 11.9%, and 13.0%, respectively.

[1]  Mathews, M. & Chan, C. (2015). Empowering Low-income Families: Documenting the Contributions of Family Excellence Circles (FEC)

[1]  Mathews, M. & Chan, C. (2015). Empowering Low-income Families: Documenting the Contributions of Family Excellence Circles (FEC)

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Events

Singapore Youth Impact Collective helps youths progress from classroom to working life

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A diverse group of individuals standing united in front of a sign displaying the empowering message "Together We Can.". (From left) James Tan, Tan-Wu Mei Ling, Justina Tan, Joyce Teo, Dr Ang Kiam Wee, Pang Sze Khai and Jacky Ang.

Despite the heavy rain on the morning of 9 October 2018, hearty drumbeats and festive excitement filled the air at Level 5 of Block A, ITE College Central.

It was the much-awaited launch of the Singapore Youth Impact Collective, a first-in-Singapore initiative that uses the collective impact model to empower disadvantaged youths to progress more smoothly from the classroom to fulfilling careers.

The Collective also launched two youth empowerment programmes – A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E by TOUCH with a new centre at ITE College Central and Youth Forte by SHINE.

Guests were treated to a rousing performance by ITE College Central’s Brazillian percussion group Batidas Centro whose energetic drumming could be heard even at Level 1.

CFS Deputy CEO Joyce Teo gave a short inspirational speech, saying: “We believe disadvantaged youth have the ability to achieve their maximum potential. We promise that we will work together to improve youth work-readiness by enabling our youth to have the academic and vocational qualifications, personal assets, and opportunities to succeed.”

After the Collective was launched, guests were invited to tour the new centre and try their hand out at its various recreational activities, such as video games and darts.

Students from the Adventure Facilitation interest group were also on hand to demonstrate some outdoor tips while the Barista interest group youths satisfied thirsty guests with the delectable gourmet coffee they had brewed themselves.

The Collective, which comprises Changi Foundation, the Community Foundation of Singapore, Credit SuisseOctava FoundationSHINE Children & Youth Services and TOUCH Community Services, was formed when the members recognised the complexity of social issues disadvantaged youths faced and realised that multiple stakeholders needed to work together to find effective ways to help them.

Industry partners who are able and willing to provide opportunities for internships and job immersion experiences for the youthsare invited to contact youthcollective@cf.org.sg to see how they can support these programmes.

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Opinion

Here’s how you can help the people of Ukraine – Ways to donate

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a group of military men transporting boxes of water using a helicopter

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is triggering what the United Nations fears could be Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century. More than 2 million people, out of a nation of 44 million, have fled to neighbouring countries since the conflict began.  

The human cost of the war is alarming and rising by the day. Hundreds of lives have been lost, and thousands of families have been displaced.  

Global charities urgently call for funds to ramp up humanitarian aid in Ukraine. There is a pressing need for medical assistance, food, water, clothing, emergency cash and shelter. There are also plenty of private fundraisers online, but how do you ensure that your money will reach those who need it? How do you know that a particular fundraising appeal is legitimate? Should you send supplies like blankets and warm clothing?  

One of the fastest ways to help is to donate cash to a trusted charity doing on-the-ground relief work. Donations of items are a challenge for charities to handle and distribute as in a warzone, supply chains are disrupted. Logistical options are also very limited, making it challenging to deliver bulky physical items. Cash can be used to purchase necessities more quickly at nearby unaffected regions, allowing charities to respond faster and better at this critical time. 

But which charity should you be donating to? CFS is well-placed to help you navigate giving during this geopolitical crisis as a cause-neutral philanthropic advisor. For those who are looking to support Ukraine and its people, we recommend the following bona fide organisations: 

Singapore Red Cross  

Singapore Red Cross is the global humanitarian organisation’s local arm established in 1949. It is a credible, transparent and time-tested charity providing disaster relief assistance, both locally and internationally.   

It has raised almost $3 million after launching an urgent appeal on 25 February, which is running till 31 May. The first tranche of US$100,000 reached Ukraine on 4 March and a second tranche of $2.4 million is on the way. The funds are to assist Ukrainians in the besieged nation and across six neighbouring countries – Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania.   

The focus will be on providing aid to vulnerable people, including unaccompanied minors, single women with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Besides giving emergency relief aid, the charity will also offer shelter, health, water, sanitation, hygiene, and psychosocial support. 

Donate to the Singapore Red Cross here

Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives, Singapore (CHARIS)

CHARIS is the umbrella body for overseas humanitarian aid by the Archdiocese of Singapore. Launched in 2010, CHARIS Singapore is a legitimate charity that provides both immediate and long-term relief to persons who have been forcibly displaced, as well as those in need.   

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, CHARIS Singapore has pledged an initial $100,000 from their Humanitarian Aid Fund to extend essential aid to vulnerable individuals afflicted by the war. The support will be channelled to Caritas Ukraine and Caritas Spes, which are based in Ukraine and working on the ground, to provide daily necessities, shelter, transportation and evacuation services, and psychological support to families.  

Charities worldwide are responding to the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and trying to bring aid to its people. If you wish to provide support directly to a foreign charitable organisation, you may consider these two verified charities: the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and The UN Refugee Agency. 

Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) 

The US-based CDP is dedicated to helping donors maximise their impact by making more intentional disaster-related giving decisions. Since 2010, the nonprofit has directed financial and technical support to disasters and humanitarian crises.   

The CDP’s Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund will focus on addressing humanitarian needs that arise, particularly among the most vulnerable, marginalised and at-risk internally-displaced peoples and refugees.   

Donate to CDP here

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) 

UNHCR is a global organisation that aids and protects refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people. UNHCR has been working in Ukraine since 1994, providing legal, social, and humanitarian assistance, such as winter clothing and blankets and psychosocial support and emergency shelter to people afflicted by the country’s ongoing tensions.   

The UN has issued a US$1.7 billion flash appeal to support humanitarian needs across Ukraine and its bordering countries. It estimates that 12 million people inside Ukraine and more than 4 million refugees may need protection and assistance in the coming months.  

Donate to UNHCR here.  

References:  

  1. Begum, S. (2022, March 10). Singapore Red Cross to send $2.4m to Ukraine, neighbouring countries in second tranche of aid. The Straits Times. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-red-cross-to-send-24m-to-ukraine-neighbouring-countries-in-second-tranche-of-aid  
  2. Centre of Disaster Philanthropy (2022). CDP Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://disasterphilanthropy.org/cdp-fund/cdp-ukraine-humanitarian-crisis-recovery-fund/ 
  3. Singapore Red Cross’ Humanitarian Aid Arrives In Ukraine. (2022, March 4). Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://www.redcross.sg/media-centre/press-releases/1124-singapore-red-cross-humanitarian-aid-arrives-in-ukraine.html 
  4. UNHCR. (2022, March 1) UN seeks US$1.7 billion as humanitarian needs soar in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Retrieved from March 10, 2022, from https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2022/3/621e0aa74/un-seeks-us17-billion-humanitarian-needs-soar-ukraine-neighbouring-countries.html  
  5. UNHCR. (2022, March 8). Ukraine situation: Flash update. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://reporting.unhcr.org/document/1884 
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