Moldova for Peace – a year of activity
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine triggered an unprecedented set of challenges on our country. Faced with a refugee crisis and the fear of war, tens of thousands of people across the country have mobilised to offer help. Non-governmental, religious and charitable organisations, small and large businesses, town halls and civil servants have been working around the clock for weeks and months. It was also on 26 February that the Moldova Peace Initiative was born.
Nearly 4000 people volunteered, more than 100,000 requests for help were answered, 130,000 packages of basic necessities were distributed, hundreds of people received legal, psychological or career counselling, a Community Centre where dozens of beneficiaries walk across the threshold every day – these are some of the results of the Initiative’s efforts. More than a year after the war, the end of which we do not foresee, we explain where we started, what we are doing, what we have achieved, and what the team plans to do to contribute to a community where no one is a stranger or neglected.
On this note, we would like to thank once again all those who have joined our initiative, both temporarily and on a longer-term basis, dedicating their time and resources. Thank you to our partners and donors and to the media who accurately reported the refugees’ experiences and the volunteers’ efforts. Moldova for Peace is continuing its work and counting on further community support.
WHERE WE STARTED
The day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on 25 February 2022, at the call of the central authorities, dozens of citizens gathered in the Ministry of Internal Affairs to discuss how we could help our neighbors fleeing the war. We decided to join forces to face a crisis that Moldova had never faced before.
On 26 February 2022, Moldova for Peace Initiative was born, made up of people eager to help and local organizations that later ensured the continuity of the initiative. For a while, we worked in close cooperation with state institutions – the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the State Chancellery, etc., but especially with the Single Crisis Management Cell. In the first three months, the authorities offered us space in state institutions – the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, then the Government building. Every day, dozens of volunteers were coordinating efforts to help refugees – meeting them at border crossings, providing them with essential items, identifying people to offer accommodation, placement in accommodation centers, transportation, legal and psychological counseling, etc.
In May, with the help of partners and the support of the local community, we were able to identify a new premise, which also became the Community Centre – a safe and inclusive space for women, children, young people from the local community, and refugees in a temporary situation of vulnerability.
HOW WE WORK AND WHAT WE HAVE ACHIEVED IN A YEAR
A community where no person is a stranger or neglected – this is the vision of the Moldova Peace Initiative. After several months of working without days off, reacting quickly to different types of aid, and trying to find solutions to the most diverse and complicated cases that arose on a daily basis, and when the flow of refugees slowed down and clearer mechanisms for their management were established, the team was able to formulate more precisely how we are to go forward. We established the mission of the Initiative – We provide direct assistance, contribute to the development of services, monitor respect for human rights and promote policies for the inclusion and social integration of forcibly displaced people.
Currently, our efforts are focused on three main areas:
- providing direct assistance to refugees by providing basic necessities (food, hygiene products, housing, transport, etc.);
- facilitating long-term integration by providing vocational guidance, legal and psychological counseling, etc.;
- monitoring respect for refugees’ rights and promoting policies for assistance, protection, and integration.
The initiative has around 100 staff and hundreds of volunteers. We have no hierarchies, decisions are taken by consensus. We have organized our work by department, most of which represent the types of help refugees need.
Requests for help are received via the dopomoha.md platform, launched on 10 March 2022, or by calling the Green Line on 080080011. Also, for certain types of help, refugees can call 061142212 (legal advice on employment and right to work); 061142210 (career guidance and vocational courses).
Over the course of a year, we received more than 120,000 requests for help through the platform. We have successfully dealt with more than 100,000 requests. We distributed more than 130,000 bags of food, hygiene and children’s products.
INITIATIVE DEPARTMENTS AND RESULTS
The departments have been created and adjusted based on the refugee’s main needs at different stages of their stay in Moldova. Thus, some departments continue to this day to work as they were conceived in the early months, some have been closed and others have emerged along the way.
In the early months, the department was responsible for identifying and coordinating people who expressed an interest in helping refugees. On the first day of the Initiative’s work, a call went out to the community to register on a form and provide details of the type of help they could provide. The team was responsible for organising and maintaining the database of registered volunteers. Different methods were used to communicate and coordinate volunteers: email, sms, Viber, or Telegram groups. Gradually, the department developed a mechanism for volunteers’ registration and feedback – voluntar.md. The system was tested with the Initiative’s volunteers. Currently, the team is focusing on promoting the platform so that it can be used by organizations and volunteers all over the country. In mid-June, the “Volunteer Academy” was launched, which is currently responsible for engaging and coordinating volunteers. This is a long-running program that provides training and activities for the volunteers involved.
- Over 4.000 volunteers registered in the form (Transport – 436, Services – 376, Goods – 625, Accommodation – 377, Warehouses – 1020, Coordination – 459, Green Line – 107, UA Customs – 103, RM Customs – 297, On the Phone – 204).
- 14 Viber groups with 2.132 members (11 thematic groups: Translations – 73, Coordination – 108, Warehouses – 305, Lawyers – 54, Psychologists – 77, Warehouses – 198, Accommodation – 109, Donations – 97, At the Tefelon – 88, Medical Help – 30, Drivers – 439; 3 regional groups: North – 122, Centre – 382, South – 50.
- The voluntar.md platform (305 registered volunteers, 22 events created, 2 partners who used the platform to organize events).
The department receives essential goods, including hygiene products, food, and children’s items, which are donated or procured with the support of local and international partners. The department sorts and distributes these items to refugees who have applied for assistance via the dopomoha.md platform and by telephone. In addition to its daily operations, the department also invites community members to participate in sorting operations, which take place every Saturday. The Initiative currently also runs a warehouse in Bălți for refugees from the north of the country.
- Over 130,000 kits distributed (food – 61.000, hygiene – 59.000, for children – 10.000).
- More than 1000 local and international volunteers, including from Ukraine, involved in the sorting, packaging, and distribution process.
III. Foods & Goods
The department processes requests for food and non-food assistance via the dopomoha.md platform and by telephone. For successfully processed applications, sms tickets are activated, with which refugees can pick up packages of food, hygiene, and children’s products from warehouses in Chisinau (Moldova Film and Dignity) and Bălți. The department’s operators also assist beneficiaries by phone with alternative aid options available in Moldova.
- Over 100.000 aid requests processed.
- Over 84.000 vouchers activated for pick-up from Moldova Film (54.970), Dignity (20.790) and Bălți (8.260) warehouses.
- Over 500 deliveries organized for people with special needs.
The department assists refugees in finding accommodation by connecting refugee requests with accommodation offers from Moldovan families and/or organizations providing free accommodation services through dopomoha.md. The department helps in finding appropriate Refugee Accommodation Centers for people with special needs, such as health concerns or reduced mobility.
- 1693 solved requests for accommodation of refugees from Ukraine.
- actively participated in meetings with the Catholic Relief Service, UNHCR, the Government Green Line, and the Single Crisis Management Center of the Republic of Moldova to promote and search for solutions for the Accommodation department of Moldova for Peace.
- Made follow-up phone calls to make sure that the beneficiaries feel safe at the provided accommodation.
V. Human Rights
The department monitors the protection of the rights of people arriving from Ukraine, facilitates the provision of basic services for vulnerable groups and promotes good practice and human rights-based policies in the management of refugees arriving from Ukraine. Members of the department are part of the Advisory Council for the Prevention of Violations of the Rights of Refugees within the People’s Advocate’s Office.
- 500 people assisted by the Vulnerable Groups sub-department between august and January 2023 (information, redirection to service providers, cultural mediation, integrated policies).
- In the framework of the Advisory Council, the department contributed to three reports monitoring the observance of the rights of foreigners from Ukraine in the context of the state of emergency in Moldova.
- The department offered primary legal assistance via phone: 10 people and qualified legal assistance in one case brought to the Equality Council.
The department offers career counseling and a range of services for refugees looking for employment opportunities in the Republic of Moldova (language courses, professional courses, recognition of diplomas etc). Robota also offers legal counseling for refugees in order to ensure the protection of their labor rights. In this regard, a guide was elaborated. They cooperate with the National Congress of Ukrainians of Moldova to provide this support. Robota is also part of the Advisory Council to the ombudsperson for the Prevention of Violations of Refugee Rights and participates in its activities.
- 763 refugees benefited from the services provided by Robota: 412 career counseling, 279 legal counseling, 8 people enrolled in professional courses, 64 people enrolled in Romanian language courses, and 10 people employed.
- 200 000 reached by a social media campaign on red flags on labor rights (consisting of 22 basic labor rights and red flags);
- 93 questions regarding the labor legislation and labor rights in Moldova have been answered in the GUIDE TO LABOUR RIGHTS for refugees, asylum seekers or foreigners who have taken up or are seeking employment in the Republic of Moldova;
- 11 outreach session organized in Chișinău, Bălți, Edineț, Râșcani, Mihăileni, Cahul, Comrat, Congaz, Căușeni, Orhei.
The department ensures the fulfillment of requests in the fields of education, legal, psychological, medical, and transport. They closely cooperate with UNICEF’s initiative Blue Dot – support hubs that bring together critical protection services as well as reliable multi-language and multi-format information for persons fleeing the war in Ukraine and other persons of concern. A Blue Dot office operates in the Community Center 151, opened within Moldova for Peace initiative.reliable multi-language and multi-format information for persons fleeing the war in Ukraine and other persons of concern. A Blue Dot office operates in the Community Center 151, opened within Moldova for Peace initiative.
- 70 education-related requests successfully resolved;
- 286 medical requests redirected to specialized institutions;
- 50 psychosocial assistance sessions offered through Blue Dot;
- 84 persons referred to specialized qualified legal assistance services;
- 214 transport requests dealt with, covering approximately 38.000 km.
VIII. Community Center 151
The Community Center 151 opened on the 2nd of June 2022. It is a safe and inclusive space for women, children, young people from the local community, and refugees who are in a temporary situation of vulnerability. The center provides a wide range of activities to increase the level of well-being and integration for refugee women, youth, and children from Ukraine in Moldova. The team also works to develop a replicable model and open new Community Centers.
- 2000+ visits hosted
- 50+ group activities
- 1.000+ unique beneficiaries
- 14 public events held
During February-April, the department recruited and trained volunteers to assist refugees at various border crossing points (Palanca, Otaci, Giurgiulești, Mirnoe, Basarabeasca, Briceni, Vulcănești). Starting in April-December, the Borders Department focused on assisting refugees at the Palanca Bus Station, while conducting regular monitoring visits to the other MD-UA border crossing points. Apart from the direct assistance (information, transportation, accommodation etc), the department also monitored and analyzed risk situations, discrimination, and abuse cases and reported them to the competent bodies: the Office of the People’s Advocate, the Single Center for Crisis Management, the Center for Combating Human Trafficking, etc. At the moment, due to the reduced flow, the department has stopped its work.
- around 2.000 refugees assisted at the border starting February 27.
- around 50 Roma refugees traveling without their foreign passports were assisted in obtaining certificates confirming border crossing.
- one potential case of human trafficking in persons identified and denounced to the National Center for Combating Human Trafficking. The case management and the response were drafted into a report which later served as a starting point for improving the response of the humanitarian workers in cases of potential human trafficking in persons.
- 20 monitoring visits to border crossing points were conducted. Following the visits, a report was drafted, mapping the existing (or non-existing) infrastructure and services in place for refugees and the response plan of the Border Police. Additionally, together with Danish Refugee Council Moldova, the department has conducted a risk analysis of the Tent Camps in Palanca and Giurgiulești.
X. Volunteer Academy
Created in June, the Academy is a complex, long-term program that provides training and activities for the volunteers involved. The Academy’s mission is to train future volunteer coordinators who will respond to the needs of the community. Currently, more than 300 volunteers are helping refugees in Ukraine to overcome the difficulties they face.
- 4.000 volunteers who registered in March-April to volunteer for Moldova for Peace were audited and as a result, 170 people expressed their interest to continue volunteering and joined the VA network.
- 580 refugees were surveyed by 10 volunteers to identify the refugee’s top 4 needs. For each need, a solution idea was proposed from the perspective of the volunteers.
- 20 organizations were mapped in 5 different localities in the framework of the Volunteer Caravan and Mapping of NGOs.
- 141 volunteers (54 male and 87 female aged between 16 and 68) benefited directly from the training and activities organized by the VA.
The Informational Department was established at the end of July 2022. Our team moderates and answers questions addressed by the temporarily displaced persons from Ukraine in one of the largest help groups Ajutor Ucraineni in Moldova launched at the beginning of the war by the “Moldova for Peace” initiative. Every day we respond to requests for help in Facebook, Viber and Telegram groups. We also verify and publish up-to-date and reliable information on the assistance available to refugees in Moldova. The Information Department is part of the working groups involved in refugee crisis management in Moldova and cooperates with the UNHCR, humanitarian aid organisations and government agencies.
- More than 250,000 beneficiaries having access to information and assistance provided by the Information Department
- More than 8.500 individual consultations
- More than 515 informative posts.
The department ensures the promotion of the activities of the initiative and offers support for the projects implemented within the initiative, the establishment of partnerships with the media, the management of social networks, and the web platform moldovapentrupace.md
- set up and maintenance of social media channels (Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn, Linktree);
- Creation of the web platform;
- Elaboration of the communication policy.
SUPPORTERS, DONORS, AND PARTNERS
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, dozens of local and international partners, both organizations and individuals, have provided aid in the form of financial donations, and basic needs items.
In the first days of the initiative, we received many messages from people from Moldova, from the diaspora and foreign citizens who wanted to donate. We immediately launched a crowdfunding campaign and managed to collect 96,241 euros. This allowed us in the first days to cover the urgent expenses of volunteers (fuel, food, vests, etc.) and refugees.
Later, we managed to replenish entire stocks of food and hygiene products at the warehouse managed by the initiative, at Moldova-Film. Even though international organizations and partners provided grants for food and hygiene products and other expenses, crowdfunding funds gave us the flexibility to act when it came to unforeseen expenses, for example, buying firewood for a refugee family or making repairs for the maintenance of the warehouse.
We have spent in Moldovan lei:
At the moment, we have 11,778 Euro left.
Several international partners have supported the initiative with larger grants and as such have increased the level of assistance offered to refugees and ensured the continuity of the initiative. This is how we were able to provide continuous assistance for a year.
Numerous organizations have supported us through one-off or regular donations of goods, food, technology, services, the provision of rooms, etc.
Thank you to everyone who made all the above help possible.
The initiative will continue to work along three main lines:
- providing direct assistance to refugees by providing essential necessities (food, hygiene products, housing, transport, etc.);
- facilitating long-term integration by offering vocational guidance, legal and psychological counseling, etc.;
- monitoring the compliance of refugees with their rights and promoting assistance, protection and integration policies.
In 2023, M4P aims to focus our efforts on:
- continuing to offer immediate assistance to refugees, providing food and hygienic packages.
- creating meaningful and sustainable partnerships with other CSOs, public authorities, international organizations, refugee initiatives, and local communities to strengthen the refugee response and collaboration among different actors.
- Monitoring and advocating for refugees’ rights to ensure equal treatment and facilitate access to services for the most vulnerable groups. In this regard, we intend to increase the visibility and effectiveness of complaints and reporting mechanisms, train staff directly involved in the refugee relief effort on the code of ethics, discrimination and access to legal services etc.
- Piloting mobile teams to operate in the regions of the country, providing legal and psychological counseling to minority and marginalized groups of refugees outside the capital city.
- Organise outreach campaigns to inform refugees about the Temporary Protection Mechanism, the rights, and obligations it provides, as well as the procedure to obtain the status of TP.
- Monitor r the implementation of the Temporary Protection Mechanism.
- M4P will open 4 more Community Centers (CC) in Moldova, to host at least 2 activities per month organized by the beneficiaries in the CC and ensure that at least 30% of the beneficiaries of the CC come from the local community.
- Monitoring information published and shared online and providing verified answers to questions asked by refugees. The Information Unit will produce information videos and publish monthly articles.
- Supporting refugees in obtaining professional qualifications, finding jobs, and protecting labor rights
- M4P will continue to strengthen the role of volunteers in crisis response and to contribute to social changes by conducting capacity-strengthening activities for the volunteers; creating a Volunteer Centre as a space for networking and development of volunteers; conducting research on the perception of volunteering in Moldova and supporting civil society organizations in volunteer coordination.
- Increase the number of volunteers within the network from 340 to 700, and continue advocating for volunteering in Moldova.
In the long run, we hope for calmer times, when we can analyze the enormous experience gained and develop mechanisms for community organization and action in times of crisis.
The war is not over. Millions of Ukrainians are still far from their homes, of which many have been destroyed. More than 100 thousand refugees continue to stay in the Republic of Moldova and rely on the help we offer together. Join us in this effort.
- Follow the Initiative’s pages:
– Moldova for Peace: Facebook and Instagram
– Community Center 151: Facebook and Instagram
– Volunteer Academy: Facebook and Instagram
– Robota: Facebook
- Register on the voluntar.md platform;
- Organize events at the Community Centre;
- Donate clothes or products to Moldova Film warehouse;
- Make a donation via PayPalfirstname.lastname@example.org.