On Thursday, February 24, 2022, we witnessed the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which was condemned by our entire political representation, including the President of the Slovak Republic, the Prime Minister, leaders of the EU, NATO, and other countries.
The war in Ukraine has affected us personally and professionally. War is always a source of human suffering, destruction, split families, and destroyed lives, and currently also more than 4 million people running away from their homes.
Since the beginning of the war, we have been working intensively to ensure that people who have been forced to leave their homes find a safe place and dignified acceptance in Slovakia. Together with other NGOs, we have participated in the call ‘Kto pomôže Ukrajine’, and we’re coordinated with state, international and civic actors.
The situation is critical. From the beginning of the war – the Ukrainian and Slovak border crossed almost 400 000 people. The public infrastructure of services and support was not ready to respond to the needs of such a large number of people. Many are particularly vulnerable - children, single mothers, the elderly, and the disabled. In order to be able to intervene and effectively help people on the border or in Slovak cities, we urgently need your help.
As of March 31, 2022, more than 57,000 people in Slovakia had requested temporary refuge, of which 43% were children under 18 years of age. These people will be our neighbors, classmates, colleagues, or clients. Their successful integration into schools, the labor market, and everyday life is currently a major challenge. We, therefore, are offering our experience with the integration of foreigners in Slovakia, coordinating with relevant actors, and proposing specific solutions.
Support our activities to help people from Ukraine.
Activities at Vyšné Nemecké
We’re present at the border crossing Vyšné Nemecké from the 26th of February, where we together with the Fire and Rescue Corps coordinate the border zone and provide first contact services to the people crossing.
- To people coming from Ukraine – no matter their origin or further direction - we provide information about their rights and obligations, orientation in the border zone, and practical aspects of residency and movement in Slovakia.
- We assist in the organization of transport, and we inform about the possibility to request a temporary refuge or other forms of protection.
- We cooperate with consulates and embassies that help their citizens upon arrival in Slovakia.
- We monitor security at the crossing border in order to prevent abuse and trafficking of vulnerable people, especially women and children.
- We monitor the situation with unaccompanied minors and assist when police and the labor office are needed.
- We assist in transport for people with health difficulties.
Activities in cities
In Bratislava, Nitra, and Košice, we are strengthening our capacities and organizing community activities to help and integrate people who have decided to look for security and a new home in Slovakia due to the war in Ukraine.
- We are organizing free language courses in the Slovak language in Bratislava and Nitra.
- we provide tutoring in Slovak directly at schools in Nitra,
- in cooperation with the City of Bratislava, we organize information seminars for people from Ukraine about the city services and state institutions, the possibilities of finding a job or enrolling children in schools,
- we organize a children's club and other leisure activities for young people,
- we prepare community events in order to create a pleasant environment for establishing new relationships with local communities,
- we train new volunteers who will provide individual assistance or prepare community activities.
- We regularly update the website www.ukraineslovakia.sk, which contains information for people coming from Ukraine, their rights and obligations when entering Slovakia. Information is available in Slovak, Ukrainian and English.
- We provide advice on the possibilities of staying in Slovakia and practical aspects of life in Slovakia on the infoline of the League for Human Rights.
- We coordinate and cooperate with local and state institutions so that we can contribute as effectively as possible to solving the living situation of people coming from Ukraine, and with other Slovak non-governmental and civic organizations that provide humanitarian, legal, and integration assistance to Ukrainians at risk, whether in Ukraine or Slovakia.
- We prepare methodological materials, trainings, and consultations so that we can scale our activities and spread our knowledge and experience in the field of integration to other places.
- We are in favor of fair and solidarity-based treatment of people coming from Ukraine at a local and national level.
We would not be able to do all this without your support, volunteers, and financial resources. Help us to continue our activities and let us show Slovakia in solidarity.
Proposals for integration solutions of the people from Ukraine
At the Integration Forum organized by the League for Human Rights, we presented specific solutions for the integration of people from Ukraine, on which we worked together with the League for Human Rights, CVEK, NMŠ, and ‘Človek v ohrození’.
Whether the people from Ukraine stay in Slovakia for a shorter period of time or long term, it is important for us to provide them with a safe and dignified reception, basic life necessities, but also a sense of acceptance and belonging.
This requires a coordinated system of integration and effective cooperation between civic organizations, the state and local governments, as well as knowledge of the situation and needs of the people of Ukraine.
We are ready to provide the state with our experience and expertise in working with refugees and migrants. Several measures that we are proposing, for example, in the area of housing, material assistance, or education, have the potential to also improve the situation of other vulnerable groups in Slovakia.
The policy brief in English can be found here.