UNICEF and World Scouting join forces to support refugee children and families fleeing war in Ukraine
Empowering young people engaging in humanitarian action through support and education
GENEVA/BRUSSELS, 7 April 2022 – UNICEF and the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) today launched a regional cooperation agreement to provide critical care and support to children and families fleeing the war in Ukraine.
More than 4 million people – including more than 2 million children - have crossed from Ukraine into neighbouring countries to escape the escalating violence and destruction, leaving their lives and their possessions behind. 90 per cent of the refugee population are women and children. The partnership will enable both organisations to scale-up their responses to work to ensure those who are most in need of support can receive it.
Joint activities will work to address the urgent needs of refugee women and children in both neighbouring countries - Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and Slovakia, as well as countries where refugees are continuing their journey, including the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania.
“We are delighted to reinforce our partnership with UNICEF at this important moment in Europe’s history,” said Abir Koubaa, Regional Director for the European Scout Region of WOSM. “Scouts were among the first responders to the crisis on the ground and continue to work in significant numbers together. Together with UNICEF we can scale-up these short-term responses while also strengthening our educational methods practices to ensure they can be adapted to the humanitarian situation.”
“This partnership will be critical in providing children and families affected by the devastating war in Ukraine with support and care in the coming weeks and months,” said Philippe Cori, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “Empowering children and young people – not only Ukrainians but also those from refugee-hosting countries - to play an active and engaged role in this work will have huge long-term benefits.”
“In Ukraine and throughout neighbouring countries, we have been galvanized by the rapid humanitarian responses of so many young people and organisations,” said Srinath Tirumale, Regional Director for the Eurasia Scout Region of WOSM. “Scouting is proud to to announce this new partnership with UNICEF to deliver needed impact, support and relief on the ground.”
The partnership will support the ongoing efforts of national authorities in the refugee-hosting countries, by linking displaced women and children to the services operated by public institutions. Direct support will also be provided to Scout groups working inside Ukraine to support children and families who are displaced or seeking safety.
The cooperation agreement, which is set to continue until July 2023, will initially focus on addressing the immediate needs of refugees. Activities will include the provision of critical and life-saving information to women and children after their arrival, relocation, and settlement. In addition, UNICEF will also support the provision of emergency supplies for refugees distributed by Scouts, as well as temporary accommodation. The existing strength of the Scout Movement in the promotion of well-being will be critical in empowering and supporting young people to feel safe and supported in their new communities and equip them with the skills they need to navigate the coming period of their lives.
At the same time, UNICEF and WOSM are working together with other youth networks to engage and empower young people from Ukraine and refugee-hosting countries in the wider response, as well as to ensure their voices are heard in discussions around decisions affecting them. This includes highlighting UNICEF’s U-Report Europe, a digital youth engagement platform. U-Report, first launched in 2011 and now active in more than 95 countries, is an instant messaging platform that uses different tools to link young users with information about the services available to them in the country they are in. These include protection services, legal support, health care services and information, and much more.
Beyond the immediate response, WOSM will also work towards creating peer-support volunteers to help adolescent refugees as they integrate into their new host communities. Activities will take a hybrid approach, combining Scouting’s educational method and the humanitarian and adolescent programming expertise brought by UNICEF. This will also make use of the UNICEF Adolescent Kit for Expression and Innovation – a package of guidance, tools, activities, and supplies for promoting the psychosocial support and wellbeing of adolescents affected by humanitarian crises and will involve young Ukrainians in activities and skills building opportunities offered by the Scouts, thus bringing refugees and host communities closer together. Activities will include daily programmes run by the Scouts, national events and regular projects and local actions.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/eca/.
About the World Organization of the Scout Movement
Scouting is the world’s leading educational youth movement, engaging millions of young people to be active citizens and create positive change in their communities. The Scout Movement is made up of more than 57 million Scouts, including 2 million who are active in the European Scout Region. The role of the Region is to support its 40 Member Organizations across Europe empowering the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual potential as individuals and responsible citizens.
Find out more at: scout.org/europe