Poland supports social reintegration of Ukrainian refugees
The military conflict in eastern Ukraine drove over 1.7 million people, including more than 200,000 children, out of their homes. The displaced population is still facing high unemployment, limited access to basic social services, and problems with adapting to a new place. Apart from providing immediate humanitarian relief, Poland helps Ukrainian IDPs to reintegrate with society, and stand on their own feet in their receiving communities.
Actions by Caritas Poland
In the framework of a cooperation scheme between Caritas Poland and Caritas Ukraine, Polish aid funded support centres for children and families in five Ukrainian cities: Dnipro (formerly Dnipropetrovsk), Kryvyy Rih, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya and Melitopol. First, it was necessary to renovate a number of interiors and buy equipment to create appropriate working conditions.
Alongside programmes for IDPs, an important role is played by integration with the local population. Its benefits are twofold. On the one hand, IDPs feel they are needed, which takes their mind off their difficult situation. On the other hand, local residents can see the involvement and gratitude, which helps to break stereotypes. Classes with IDPs have also unearthed much distrust in psychological assistance. Polish experts are tasked with preparing Ukrainian psychologists and social workers for overcoming these barriers.
So far, partners have conducted 11 aid campaigns for more than 1,300 people. Week-long integration camps were organized in two locations. Another interesting project involved IDPs clearing up the streets of the city they now live in. A number of family picnics have been held, combined with concerts and games.
Project "Social integration support of IDP’s in Ukraine" (no. 302/2016) implemented by Caritas Poland. Grant of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: PLN 956,764.
Art therapy centre in Kharkiv
Another outfit that joined in helping the refugees from Donbas was the HumanDoc Foundation, which partnered with Vostok SOS, a Ukrainian organization, to open in Kharkiv a support and integration centre for IDPs called ARTE. The centre provides psychological assistance using art therapy, which is a modern method of therapeutic work through the arts.
In early July, the adaptation and renovation of the centre’s premises was completed. At the same time, the personnel working with IDPs were given courses on posttraumatic stress disorder therapy and on different forms of art therapy. The programme was open to volunteers, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists from Kharkiv and its environs.
Since April, it has been possible to contact psychologists on stand-by by calling a hotline. Since May, free-of-charge psychological therapy, integration and creative sessions have been held for children and adults.
Art therapy projects included a theatre and playwriting camp for children, arts, acting, and clay sculpting classes, and a film club. Also popular were events organized in the urban space, e.g. at hospitals, children’s homes, and shopping centres. They get participants to understand themselves and others, overcome their fears, develop their skills and strengths.
The centre also acts as a place for integration. The receiving community is often uneasy about letting flats to refugees from Donbas, hiring them or getting to know them better. That’s why classes at the ARTE Centre are open to the residents of Kharkiv too.
Project "ARTE - support and integration center of displaced persons" (no. 196/2016/M) implemented by HumanDoc Foundation. Grant of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: PLN 390,120.
Getting back into the labour market
Another problem IDPs are confronted with is how to enter the labour market. This year Poland provided USD 500,000 in additional support to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project that promotes entrepreneurship among people affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
The project aims to foster self-employment and job creation. It covers 5 oblasts: Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya, as well as parts of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts which are under control of the Ukrainian government. So far, the UNDP Ukraine office has given entrepreneurship training to 200 beneficiaries in the five oblasts concerned, and awarded grants (of between four and five thousand dollars on average) with a view to starting and reactivating business activity. Grant receivers will also be able to use legal and accountancy counselling, as well as marketing assistance.
The project promotes entrepreneurship among the population affected by the conflict. To this end, 11 spots titled “Big stories of small businesses” were produced to inspire people to set up their own businesses.
Project "Promoting entrepreneurship among the population affected by the conflict in Ukraine" implemented by UNDP Ukraine. Grant of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: USD 230,000 in 2015 and USD 500,000 in 2016.