Global Refugee Fund

by IsraAID
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund
Global Refugee Fund

IsraAID’s Emergency Response team arrived in Moldova on February 27, just three days after the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, and immediately launched our response to the growing refugee crisis. Within weeks, we expanded operations to Romania in order to provide aid directly into southern Ukraine, and recently began working in Ukraine itself. Six months into the crisis, 15.7 million people face significant humanitarian needs.IsraAID is meeting urgent needs immediately at the same time as planning for the long-term recovery efforts that will be necessary in the years ahead.

 

PROTECTION AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT

Over 527,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered Moldova, and 84,000 have stayed in the country - the highest influx per capita in Europe.4 IsraAID is supporting both refugee and host communities. The Sunflower Center in the capital, Chisinau, is a focal point for the local Ukrainian refugee community, where we provide daily activities for 40 children and their caregivers. It is a safe place for recreation, socializing, and resilience-building, with arts, music, sports, and support groups. It is so popular that there is a waiting list to attend. We employ several Ukrainian refugees as facilitators; their work provides some normalcy and a stable income as they adjust to their current reality. Outside Chisinau, there is less psychosocial support for Ukrainian refugees. We run a 'Little Sunflower' program in Anenii Noi, 40 km east of Chisinau, and support five families in a shelter in Bolohan, an hour from the capital. Local children often join in activities, toward integration.Recently, the Campfire Project - a team of actors, and drama and music therapists - ran creative therapy sessions at several IsraAID Moldova program sites. These build confidence, self-expression, and laughter amid difficult experiences.

Across all our programs, our trained facilitators and partners identify child protection concerns and refer cases to welfare authorities. Child protection issues often spike in emergencies and we supported local authorities in Moldova to strengthen their specialist services for refugees.

Finally, we continue to operate a safe space at Palanca, the main border crossing with Ukraine. Mothers can relax while children play with IsraAID-trained local volunteers. We also provide essentials like hygiene and first aid kits; stress relief packs; and baby kits. Seven months into the war, refugees continue to arrive and we are preparing for the imminent return of cold weather.

 

EDUCATION

IsraAID-supported summer schools in Chisinau and Tudora (a rural village near Palanca, where many Ukrainian refugees have settled) were attended by 100 Ukrainian and Moldovan youth daily this summer. The schools promote integration, close educational gaps caused by the disruption, and provide meaningful employment for older Ukrainian teens who work there part-time. With the new academic year approaching, we are providing items like pens, pencils, and notebooks to help children get ready. We also plan to open remote learning centers. These will be equipped with computers for Ukrainian students that study remotely and will be open to local Moldovan children too.

Thank you for continuing to support Ukrainian refugees, and refugees around the world. 

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There are an estimated 300 Ukrainians living in the border village of Tudora, Moldova. Few of the locals know much about who they are or what they do, but slowly the Ukrainians are getting more used to their temporary home. For Iulia Krohmali though, it is more than a place of refuge. Iulia, her husband, and their 15-year-old son were living in Odessa Oblast up until the fighting started. Just two days after it began, on the 26th of February, they crossed into Moldova. There were so many people at the border, that it took them three attempts before they could successfully cross.

“I recall these people… walking on the road to the Moldovan border, along with their animals and children. It was a horrifying experience. We were very lucky to have a car – but even with a means of transport it was impossible the first two times.”

They heard the explosions when the city of Odessa was bombed on the night of the 24th of February, just a day after her son’s birthday. The explosions could be heard as far as Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, 200 km north. Iulia and her husband didn’t think for too long before they started packing the most important things around the house and were ready to go. The only problem was her dogs – she has big dogs and could not take them with her.

“We had to make a tough choice and left our dogs back home. There’s a neighbor that takes care of them and sometimes we go back to visit.”

Iulia’s husband was able to cross the border because he has dual citizenship of Moldova and Ukraine, but most men between 18 and 60 cannot leave the country because they are expected to be called up for army duty. The Ukrainian authorities recently passed a law that would severely punish the men that crossed illegally via bribes or otherwise.

“His parents are from Tudora so we were lucky we had a place to go to and he could come with us. It’s a small house and we don’t have much, but it’s safe and we’re surrounded by family.”

Before the war, Iulia was a street merchant, selling fruits and vegetables on the beach in the sea village of Ilichevsk, a popular destination for Moldovan tourists. When home she would home-school her son, who is disabled and requires an expensive and extensive physical therapy program.

“Every day we travel 40km to a private hospital in Stefan Voda where our son receives treatment for his legs. Unfortunately, they can only offer us free treatment for one month and our income has been severely affected by the war. I don’t know what we’re going to do once this month ends. The laser treatment he needs costs $2000 and only private clinics can provide it – that’s money that is way beyond what we can afford.”

She was excited to hear that the Moldovan authorities are looking to find and hire anyone from Ukraine who can help with school needs for displaced children, and since Iulia has experience teaching with her son, if a laptop and internet were provided, she would gladly do that during the day.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m the best teacher in the district, but if you give me a schoolbook, a laptop and internet I can definitely enroll in the program to help Ukrainian children that are in Moldova and want to study.”

When the war ends, she will return to her home and help rebuild the Oblast (district). “It doesn’t matter what they leave behind, it is our home, and we are not going to give up on it. We’re very set on going back to provide all the help needed to restore our home country.”

In response to the Ukraine crisis, IsraAID is supporting refugees in Moldova and operating a logistics hub in Romania that transports relief supplies into Ukraine. IsraAID is committed to a long-term response in the region. Support IsraAID’s emergency response today.

Alex is IsraAID’s Media and Communications Consultant in our Ukraine emergency response mission.

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Starting my role at IsraAID in the middle of Israel’s first lockdown provided me with a unique experience as an IsraAID staff member, most notably, the lack of international travel. In another time, my first year at IsraAID would have involved at least a couple of visits to our humanitarian missions, except it was 12 months until my first emergency response mission, and another six until I’d meet any of the refugee communities that we work with.

I had built a picture in my head of what a refugee camp looks like. It’s probably similar to the images most people have, of tent cities, of limited access to water and hygiene facilities, and of families and communities that have lived there for years, perhaps even decades. This is what the media likes to tell us, because it captures our attention, but also, because it’s often the truth.

Earlier this month I traveled to Albania to meet some of the 167 Afghan refugees that IsraAID helped evacuate. We ate meals together, shared stories of our families and our education, and I was shown around the “resort” in which they are staying. No matter how different the term “holiday resort” may sound from “refugee camp”, that’s exactly what it is. An off-season Albanian holiday resort on the Adriatic coast currently housing refugees. Staying there are hundreds of people who escaped Afghanistan. That’s hundreds of people living in small apartments, with sufficient access to toilets, showers, and safe drinking water, and likely in Albania for just a few months as their visa requests for a more permanent settlement elsewhere are processed.

So what really is a refugee camp? And who are the refugees living there? There is a plethora of reasons people become refugees, and an infinite number of stories of what people sacrificed when fleeing their country. J* was a parliamentary aid to a prominent family, G* was a female police officer in a district where it is rare to find female leaders, and R* was a male journalist who ran a women’s news network. What did these people have in common before the Taliban entered Kabul back in August? Possibly not much at all. But after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, they became part of a newly forged community, created by the necessity to leave Afghanistan and find temporary shelter in Albania, secretly and safely.

Similarly, their lives before the evacuation may have been worlds apart from any of the other refugees that IsraAID works with in Colombia, Germany or Kenya, but what connects people together under the same umbrella of ‘refugee’ is one of the toughest decisions a person has to make. Leaving their homes and communities for fear of their lives. Some found safety in a neighboring country and some on the other side of the world; some living in decades-old tent cities and others in off-season holiday resorts.

Call it a refugee camp or settlement, or even a resort, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the services that these people are receiving. Across the world, IsraAID is working with refugees and internally displaced persons to provide some of the many essential services required in established refugee communities, one of which is psychosocial support. In Albania, as in many of our other countries, we have established safe spaces for children, women and men to deal with their trauma, of the initial challenges in their home communities or those they are facing now as they establish new lives. This is not a top-down approach. This is listening to the community’s needs and letting them tell us what they need, most often employing specialists from the community itself, like Leke, a child protection specialist from Afghanistan.

In some sense, no matter from where people flee and to where they settle, be it temporarily or permanently, they can all be described as a refugee, but that’s a complete over-simplification. They have names, professions, and families, and they have their own experiences. Most importantly, they all have their own story which is far from over. 

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South Sudan remains in crisis. Conflict has continued on and off since July 2013, when heavy fighting claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and displaced tens of thousands. Today, conditions in South Sudan are dire: 80% of the country’s population lives on less than a dollar a day and 8.3 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Over the last year, there have been more than 12,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Sudan, with major adverse implications on this already extremely vulnerable context amid the pandemic.

Communities are experiencing a triple crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic, intensified conflict and sub-national violence, and the second consecutive year of major flooding. Some 1.6 million people remained internally displaced and another 2.2 million as refugees in the region. The situation is exacerbated by an extremely unstable economy; meaningful work opportunities are difficult to find. IsraAID has worked in South Sudan since 2011 providing life-saving programming focusing on preventing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) - a human rights violation that while rampant, lacks the proper infrastructure for survivors to get the support they need and deserve.

IsraAID, in partnership with the Embassy of Israel in South Sudan, provided urgently needed support to 200 vulnerable families in need of hygiene kits to help keep them safe. In light of the extreme barriers to employment, many families are unable to purchase adequate hygiene items to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, leaving them even more vulnerable to contracting the virus. This is further exacerbated by a lack of clear and accurate information about the virus, and how it is transmitted.

Through this partnership, IsraAID and the Embassy of Israel in South Sudan distributed hygiene kits to 200 households in Juba, reaching some 1,190 people through the program. Hygiene kits included urgently needed items such as buckets with taps for handwashing, soap, hand sanitizer, and reusable masks. IsraAID prioritized the most vulnerable community members in this distribution including pregnant women, lactating mothers, women or child-headed households, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Three communities in Urban Juba benefitted from this distribution: Juba Way Station, Gurei, and Jondoru. IsraAID has been working with these communities since 2016 and maintains close relationships with many leaders and individuals therein. These areas are populated by internally displaced people, who were forced to flee their homes over the past years due to war, violence, and civil strife. Women and girls from this community are at particularly high risk for sexual and gender-based violence. This is exacerbated by the extremely adverse implications of the pandemic because there is insufficient water infrastructure to wash hands, people live in tight quarters making it difficult to socially distance, and this community has extremely limited employment opportunities. Most of the targeted community live on one meal per day and are highly dependent on food distribution activities.

The need is overwhelming – thank you very much for your support.

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In the aftermath of a disaster, a school is often anything but a place for education. It can be a shelter, a food distribution center, or a meeting place for humanitarian actors and community organizations, leaving the typical users of the building – the students – without a place to learn. Children affected by emergencies experience a rapid change in circumstances which can lead to long-term trauma. They may have been displaced, lost family members, or their parents may have been left without a source of income. And on top of that, now their daily routine at school is disrupted.

For refugees in Greece, education is more than learning skills for the future. It’s about integrating into society, now. Many children from refugee communities are registered in the public education system, but despite this, they are often not familiar with basic math concepts or even numbers. One significant factor is the type of classes they attend. Refugee and migrant children are sent to integration classes specific to their needs, aimed to rapidly teach Greek. But this means they’re missing out on other subjects. With extensive bureaucratic requirements, mixed migrant children in Colombia, many of whom arrived in the country recently from Venezuela, are left in a similar situation, often excluded from the mainstream system without much investment in their talents.

How can refugee and migrant children fully integrate without something as simple as good math education?

Over the last six months, IsraAID has been partnering with an Israeli start-up company, Imagine Machine, which developed Mathika, an online mathematics application to help children self-teach. Mathika is part of IsraAID’s joint pilot fund with the Pears Program for Global Innovation. It allows a teacher to track where they are and offer support, while also encouraging the child to move at their own pace, thereby reinforcing lessons that perhaps were lost. Through this program, our teams in Colombia and in Greece were able to boost children’s skills in this critically important subject.

Mathematics shouldn’t be a privilege, but a right.

IsraAID Greece’s integration program involves much more than the Greek language. It addresses the gap between refugee and migrant communities and the local Greek community, the team’s biggest concern being the integration of children as equal members of society. Improving the math knowledge of refugee and migrant children, the Mathika pilot program felt like a gift to these children, another tool to help achieve integration.

Under-educating the children of today is failing to prepare the leaders of tomorrow. The best investment a country can make in its future is in the education for all its inhabitants, but without appropriate skills and training, displaced communities like those in Greece and Colombia are more likely to get stuck in the poverty cycle. Just being told that they can learn and knowing they have the option to challenge themselves can significantly boost children’s self-esteem. IsraAID’s educational frameworks around the globe seek to combat this issue, offering innovative solutions like Mathika.

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Organization Information

IsraAID

Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Website:
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Twitter: @IsraAID
Project Leader:
Tamar Lazarus
Tel Aviv, Merkaz Israel
$20,062 raised of $99,999 goal
 
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$79,937 to go
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