Millions of people, mostly women and children, have been forced to flee the conflict in Ukraine. They are crossing borders, arriving in neighbouring countries hungry, exhausted and traumatised, in urgent need of food, water and shelter.
ActionAid is rapidly responding to provide emergency support and protection for refugees in Poland, Moldova and Romania.
ActionAid is on the ground in Moldova providing support to local organisations based in Moldova and Ukraine, which have already set up an emergency response to the refugee crisis.
The focus is on women's rights and women-led organisations, Roma, and LGBT+ organisations. Through them, ActionAid will be supporting the refugees who are most at risk, including women and girls.
Trafficking and exploitation are big issues in the region and there are cases of missing Roma children at Palanca, near the border between Moldova and Ukraine, one hour from Odessa. The emergency coordinating authorities, including Moldovan authorities and UN agencies, have created a focus group working on the prevention of trafficking of Roma people.
ActionAid is extremely concerned about the discrimination Roma refugees are facing. In Chisinau, there has been racial segregation of Roma refugees, with Roma refugees staying in different reception centres.
Under the Refugee Convention, the international community has both a moral and legal obligation to assist all refugees, regardless of race, religion, or country of origin.
We urge European countries to take steps to ensure that all refugees are treated equally. Europe and the EU should ensure that all people forced to flee the war in Ukraine and other conflicts, find Europe's borders open and accessible and that the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status, are protected.
ActionAid is working with local partner Romano Platform Women (ROMNI) and will provide humanitarian support for documented and undocumented refugees. This response includes providing accommodation and transportation support for Roma refugees from Ukraine and the creation of a mobile platform Call Centre for Roma refugees.
In Romania, ActionAid is working with local partner, eLiberare, a women-led organisation working to prevent trafficking and exploitation.
Five teams, which will include two social workers from Ukraine, will be providing support at accommodation sites, border areas, and other places, throughout Romania, including Bucharest, where women and girls are most at risk of trafficking.
The teams will raise awareness and inform about safety and protection risks, support women refugees to develop safety plans so they understand their rights and how to access services safely, and refer identified cases, while also building capacity in frontline workers to identify indications of trafficking, cases and using appropriate referral pathways.
We are also working with the National Foundation for Youth who operate youth friendly spaces in Suceava and Timisoara, supporting young people fleeing from the war in Ukraine.
The project aims at building the confidence of Ukrainian refugees in the local community, mainly women and girls, and stimulating the participation of young people in the life of the local community by creating alternatives and positive opportunities for youth participation in economic and social life, while building a community-based protective network around them and ensuring peaceful coexistence of both communities.
In Baia Mare, along with a coalition of civil society organisations through DEIS, a youth-led organisation, ActionAid is supporting a Refugee Community Center, a one stop shop of integrated emergency, protection and community services for people fleeing the war and residing in Maramures county, at the North Western border between Romania and Ukraine.
We are working with a grassroots organisation, LOGS, for the provision of psychosocial and socio-educational support of mothers and children in Timisoara.
ActionAid is also working on cross-border support inside Ukraine, through Ecoruralis, to support Ukrainian small farmers while ensuring displaced people have access to food and, with Expert Forum, a women-led organisation advocating for accountability, to deliver life-saving medicines and baby food to an orphanage in Ukraine.
In Poland, ActionAid is working with Polish Humanitarian Action to develop a large-scale humanitarian assistance programme supporting 3,500 people, focused on female-headed households and single women. This will provide women with cash support so they can choose how to meet their families’ needs.
ActionAid is also partnering with Polish women’s rights organisations, including Feminoteka, to support its work with survivors of gender-based violence. This is set to include funding for trauma therapists who can speak Ukrainian, Polish and English, as well as social workers who can provide referrals for jobs, accommodation, and further support services.
We are also set to work with a local, women-led activist organisation to support non-Ukrainian refugees, including people of colour and people from ethnic minority backgrounds, who are being detained at the border. This work is being done in partnership with Fundajca dle Somalii, an organisation providing legal advice in Warsaw, and Konflict Kitchen, which provides integration support and provides food in Warsaw shelters and hostels for refugees.
We also support the Humanitarian Aid and Info Point of Polish Women’s Strike, one of the most active women-led organisations in the country, to provide food, hygiene supplies, medical supplies, baby items and information on available key services (free legal or psychological assistance legalisation of their stay, registration of residence, vehicle registration, job search, education, and Polish language learning opportunities).