City of Bratislava, Eurocities and UNICEF call for continued solidarity and support for Ukrainian refugees as war persists

05 June 2023
Refugee children from Ukraine attend activities organized at the Play and Learning Hub in Dubravka, Bratislava.

BRATISLAVA, 1 June 2023 – The City of Bratislava, Eurocities and UNICEF today called for continued solidarity and support for Ukrainian refugees, as more than 8 million people – majority of whom are women and children - have fled the country since the escalation of war in February 2022.

The call was made during a meeting in Bratislava hosted by the city of Bratislava, Eurocities and UNICEF where representatives from European municipalities shared learnings and discussed how to move from short- to long-term inclusion strategies for Ukrainian refugees. Special attention was paid to identifying the best ways to support children living as refugees and vulnerable children in host communities with specialized care including psychosocial and mental health support, inclusive education and health care.

Children and their families fleeing the war in Ukraine have done so in traumatic circumstances. Many have lived under shelling and bombardment, lost family members, been uprooted from their homes, left their schools and lost touch with friends and families. More than 100,000 Ukrainians have applied for refugee status in Slovakia, with more than one million transiting. Many families have arrived in Slovakia in distress, in need of health care and with no resources to support themselves. Children and adolescents also needed to resume their studies, and while many did so a significant portion of young Ukrainians have had their education put on hold.

“Municipalities are uniquely positioned to address the needs of refugee children and families,” said Philippe Cori, Regional Director a.i. for UNICEF Europe and Central Asia. “Their knowledge of local communities solidified their role as providers of vital frontline services and made them critical to ensuring social cohesion for every child.”

To support refugees across Europe, UNICEF established partnerships with 39 municipalities in Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova. In Slovakia, UNICEF and municipalities support around half of Ukrainian refugees in the country. They provide essential services, including education, mental health and psychosocial support and social inclusion.

"Children are always the greatest victims of war and that is why I am glad that we, together with our colleagues and UNICEF, have a programme that can be shared with other European cities."

“The war is still ongoing in Ukraine, people are still dying there, and Ukraine still needs our support. Thanks to the partnership with UNICEF, Bratislava has a diverse support programme that includes language courses for children and youth or support for children in our Leisure Centres. Children are always the greatest victims of war and that is why I am glad that we, together with our colleagues and UNICEF, have a programme that can be shared with other European cities," said Matúš Vallo, mayor of Bratislava.

Communities across Slovakia and Europe have shown the impact of collective action and compassion by providing shelter, food, education and employment opportunities, and promoted social inclusion. As the war persists, Ukrainian refugees and their host communities need our continued support and solidarity.

“More than ever, the local level needs support – including financial support – to transform the emergency response into long-term strategic approaches without compromising essential services to refugee children,” said André Sobczak, Eurocities’ Secretary General. “Through its partnership with UNICEF, Eurocities is proud to support cities on that journey, by making sure municipalities connect through learning experiences, exchange good practices, discuss their common challenges and inspire each other.”

Media contacts

Dagmar Schmucková
City of Bratislava
Marta Buces
Communications Specialist


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