On 30 May, during a visit of the Ukrainian Government delegation to Prague, representatives of the Czech and Ukrainian governments agreed to establish the first Survivor Assistance Centre to support temporarily displaced Ukrainians in the Czech Republic.
“We are grateful to the Czech Republic for its strong support for Ukrainians temporarily staying in their country. Among them are those who survived the horrors of the occupation and suffered various kinds of violence at the hands of the russians. Most of them do not talk about their experiences, but they need professional help. Some victims are only ready to talk after months of work with a specialist. By opening the Survivor Assistance Centres abroad, we guarantee that everyone who needs help will get it,” said Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine.
It is expected that the centre in Prague will be opened as a pilot model abroad (for countries that have received a large number of Ukrainians). The Assistance Centre will provide comprehensive social and psychological support to people who have fled the active hostilities and/or the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
According to Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková, the Czech Government’s Human Rights Commissioner, there are still more than 325,000 Ukrainians living in the Czech Republic under temporary protection. Of these, 80% are women and children. Some Ukrainian women and children have suffered sexual violence as a result of the war and bring their trauma with them. Some are also at risk of trafficking or sexual exploitation. These challenges need to be addressed in an effective way, through the joint work of the governments and Czech service providers.
The Assistance Centre in the Czech Republic will serve as a point of contact where Ukrainians can access the necessary information and specialised social and psychological support in one place. In many cases, victims abroad face language barriers. The centre will provide a safe space for Ukrainians to talk about their trauma and seek help in their own language. In complex cases, such as sexual violence, the Centre’s specialists will help survivors to achieve long-term recovery.
“From the very beginning of russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, the Czech Republic has hosted thousands of internally displaced persons from Ukraine. People from the territories temporarily occupied by the russians are still arriving in Prague today. Many of them have experienced various forms of violence and need easy and clear access to specialised services. Our goal is for Ukrainians affected by the war to know that they are not alone and that it is not only possible but necessary to count on the support of their country even abroad,” said Kateryna Levchenko, Government Commissioner for Gender Policy in Ukraine.
“The creation of the Centres is also an element of the implementation of the priorities set by the President of Ukraine, as well as the fulfilment of tasks to protect Ukrainians abroad,” said Serhiy Nizhynskyi, Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.
As part of the visit, the Ukrainian delegation also visited MRIYA UA, an organisation that has been providing assistance to temporarily displaced Ukrainians in Prague since the first days of the full-scale war, including medical counselling, educational services, and support for the development of adolescents and young people. The participants also visited the MRIYA UA Humanitarian Centre, where Ukrainians can receive assistance in the form of food, clothing, hygiene items, etc.
In addition, the participants held a series of bilateral meetings with local UN agencies, including IOM, UNHCR, and UNICEF, which are involved in providing assistance to Ukrainian citizens. In particular, they discussed the importance of these organisations joining the efforts of the Governments of Ukraine and the Czech Republic to establish the Survivor Assistance Centre in Prague.
Survivor Assistance Centres in Ukraine are being established on the initiative of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, with the assistance of the Government Commissioner for Gender Policy, and support from the United Nations Population Fund in Ukraine and local authorities.
Currently, there are 11 such centres in Ukraine – in Kyiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Mukachevo, Chernivtsi, Kropyvnytskyi, Poltava, Odesa, Kherson, and Kharkiv (mobile).
Contacts of the centres can be found on the Survivor Assistance Platform: https://www.help-platform.in.ua/ (in Ukrainian).