How is Europe helping Ukraine's refugee children?

by Beatrice Tridimas | @bea_trid | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 24 March 2022 14:13 GMT

Ukrainian refugee Eva Kruk, 6, from Chervonograd, hugs her mother, Zoriana-Maria, before entering a classroom with Polish children, after the Benedictine Sisters Monastery welcomed refugee children into their kindergarten, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Jaroslaw, Poland, March 23, 2022. Picture taken March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

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From governments to volunteers, here's some of the ways Europeans are helping families fleeing the Ukraine war

By Beatrice Tridimas

March 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Many European countries have moved quickly to support more than 3.6 million refugees who have fled Ukraine in the last month, about half of whom are children.

The European Union (EU) has granted Ukrainian refugees temporary protection, which means they can access jobs, education, health care, and housing within the bloc.

Here are some initiatives by European countries, which are struggling to respond to the huge refugee influx, to help children and their families restart their lives:

POLAND

Poland has received the largest share of Ukrainian refugees, with more than 2 million arriving since Feb. 24. Its education ministry said more than 100,000 Ukrainian children had been registered for school.

The government is making it easier for Ukrainian teachers to enter the education system, and is helping Ukrainians who speak Polish to work as teaching assistants.

Officials are increasing funding for education and allowing larger class sizes to make space for additional pupils.

ROMANIA

More than 560,000 people have crossed Ukraine's southern border into Romania, but the Romanian National Council for Refugees (CNRR), a rights group, estimates only 20% of new arrivals are choosing to remain.

Ana Cojocaru, a project coordinator at CNRR, said many Ukrainians are moving on to other countries where they have friends or family.

Civil society groups are collecting and distributing essentials such as medicine, diapers and baby formula, said Cojocaru.

In the capital, the mayor's office has partnered with local charity Carusel Association and the University of Bucharest to set up a temporary shelter where refugees can stay and get medical care, including checkups for pregnant women.

MOLDOVA

Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries on Ukraine's south-western border, has received some 370,000 refugees. Most have moved on to neighbouring countries, which are EU members.

Moldova for Peace, a volunteer group, said on Facebook that it is offering transport and shelter to refugees, and distributing basics including food, hygiene packs, and diapers.

The government has set up a website with information for Ukrainian refugees, including a registry of schools and links to online learning platforms.

HUNGARY

Hungary has accepted more than 330,000 Ukrainian refugees, despite a history of forcibly deporting migrants and asylum seekers back over the border, which the European Court of Justice said in 2020 broke EU laws.

The independent volunteer network Flaming Beacon said on Twitter that it is helping Ukrainian refugees with transport near the Hungarian border town of Zahony, where they are given a hot meal and a place to stay before moving onwards.

SLOVAKIA

More than 260,000 Ukrainian refugees have crossed into Slovakia.

The education ministry said it has issued Ukrainian-language instructions for refugee parents on how to enrol their children in school and guidance for headteachers on applying for funding for language classes and extra staff.

It has established a crisis intervention team in each region and asked counselling services to support schools.

The ministry said it was also working with an education institute in Ukraine on a database of Ukrainian teachers who can teach refugee students for several hours a week online.

CZECH REPUBLIC

The Czech Republic, which borders Poland and Slovakia, has registered 300,000 refugee arrivals.

The government has introduced a state of emergency to deal with the influx, with officials trying to relocate new arrivals to cities outside the capital Prague to ease the pressure.

Ukrainians that register in the Czech Republic receive 5,000 Czech crowns ($223), free health insurance, and access to education for children.

Local charities are providing support, ranging from mother-and-baby dormitories to distributing items like prams, said The Planet Calls, a non-profit which supports mothers in Prague.

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($1 = 22.3920 Czech crowns)

(Reporting by Beatrice Tridimas; Editing by Sonia Elks and Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)