Closer to refugee children of Ukraine needs

UNICEF Moldova conducts a cross-sectoral mission in Ungheni

NICEF Moldova a desfășurat o misiune intersectorială în municipiul Ungheni
11 April 2022

The UNICEF Moldova team conducted an intersectoral mission in Ungheni aiming to meet the needs of Ukrainian families, specifically the needs of children who fled the war. Since the beginning of the conflict, about 414 people have found refuge in Ungheni. Some of them have been sheltered in placement centers and others in homes of locals who offered to lend a helping hand. Local authorities say that the total refugee balance includes 190 children, out of which about 112 are of preschool age.  

The mission of the UNICEF Moldova team, led by the country representative in Moldova, Maha Damaj, started at the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Protection of the Family. A few topics were discussed, such as establishing two Blue Dot centers at the Leușeni-Albita border crossing and taking measures to protect children and refugee women from trafficking and abuse. Moreover, the conditions which children have been offered when introduced to the national education system; a strategic point of the visit was the kindergarten "Solnishco" and the theoretical high school "Alexandr Pushkin."   

Reprezentanta de țară UNICEF în Moldova, Maha Damaj, și copiii de la grădinița „Solnisco” din Ungheni
UNICEF Moldova Country Representative Maha Damaj and children from "Solnishco" kindergarten in Ungheni
Copiii refugiați din Ucraina participă la activitățile educative în cadrul grădiniței „Solnisco”

"My child is coming back from school with positive emotions. Here they had an opportunity to communicate"  

Olga, Odessa region, Chernomorsk city

The kindergarten principal Anastasia Holodcova says that 11 children from Ukraine were greeted warmly by educators and other children, even though it heralds more shortcomings, feeding mouths, and work intertwined with stress and even helplessness.  


Copil refugiat din Ucraina se joacă în curtea grădiniței din Ungheni, Republica Moldova
A refugee child from Ukraine is playing in the yard of the kindergarten in Ungheni, Republic of Moldova
Directoarea grădiniței „Solnisco” din Ungheni
The principal of the "Solnishco" kindergarten in Ungheni, Anastasia Holodcova

"We are trying to share everything. For example, if a child missed the kindergarten, we offer the school supplies package to a child from Ukraine. Some parents noticed it and donated some things to those in need, "says the principal.  

Două surori, originare din Ucraina, își continuă studiile la liceul „Alexandru Pușchin” din Ungheni
Children from Ukraine who continue their studies at the "Alexandru Pushkin" high school in Ungheni
Copii din Ucraina învață la liceul „Alexandru Pușchin” din Ungheni

The same situation concerns 18 students from Ukraine who continue their studies at a Russian high school in Ungheni.   

"These kids need everything, not just supplies. We need computers, colored paper, notebooks, pens, pens, backpacks", says Ludmila Moroi, principal of the “Alexandr Pushkin" theoretical high school.  

In addition to discussions with teachers, children, and school principals, members of the UNICEF Moldova team have also spoken with mothers who abandoned everything for the safety of the little ones.

Olga, mamă din Ucraina, participă în cadrul unor discuții cu echipa UNICEF Moldova
Olga, a mother from Ukraine, participates in discussions with the UNICEF Moldova team
Echipa UNICEF Moldova discută cu familiile refugiate despre necesitățile lor

Olga and her eight-year-old son are from the Odessa region. Despite all the worries caused by the war, the woman is happy that her son smiles again and communicates with his peers once he started attending the "Alexandr Pushkin" high school in Ungheni. As for their needs, Olga shares that they grow as time goes by, and she does not have a job.  

 "My child comes back from school with positive emotions. Here they had an opportunity to communicate. However, we try to attend the school in Ungheni and take online lessons with the teachers in Ukraine, even if it is challenging. We don't feel good about asking for certain things because we have learned that we must work hard to buy something. We want the war to end and return home, "said Olga Culida.  

Ala, mamă din Ucraina, povestește despre integrarea copiilor în Republica Moldova
Ala, a mother from Ukraine, talks about the integration of children in the Republic of Moldova

And Ala left her house in Ukraine with her three, four, seven-year-olds and, bearing the fourth one under her heart. Unfortunately, the husband was only able to bring them to the border point and came to the Republic of Moldova later. Before continuing their journey to Austria, two children had been attending the "Solnishco" kindergarten, and the eldest boy went to the "Alexandr Pushkin" high school.  

"When people run away from war, they take with them only what is the most important. We took only a few things; medication to be able to provide first aid to the children in case of need. So, I needed a lot. However, in the case of children, it would require more books ", says Ala Tetova

"We rely on the support of UNICEF and the European Union in these times of emergency"

director of the Ungheni Health Center, Oleg Belbas
Directorul Centrului de Sănătate din Ungheni, Oleg Belbas
The director of the Ungheni Health Center, Oleg Belbas

Medical services provided to refugees is another priority topic outlined during the UNICEF Moldova mission in Ungheni. Health Department officials visited a family with five children fleeing the war. The challenges of caring for these people were identified. There were also discussions with the team of the Ungheni Health Center in the context of the medical assistance provided. Thus, 61 refugees, of which 13 children, have received medical aid.  

"The biggest problem is the social and financial one because most refugees have exhausted their resources. Some patients have to buy all the medication. So now, we heavily rely on the support provided by UNICEF and the European Union equipping the institution in the urgency of the moment ", says the director of the Ungheni Health Center, Oleg Belbas.  

Echipa UNICEF în cadrul discuțiilor cu reprezentanții APL Ungheni
UNICEF team in discussions with representatives of local public authorities in Ungheni
Reprezentanta de țară UNICEF în Moldova, Maha Damaj, și primarul municipiului Ungheni

UNICEF Moldova's cross-cutting mission to Ungheni ended with a roundtable discussion with local public authorities. LPA representatives presented the situation regarding the management of the Ukrainian refugee crisis, the support resources, the problems, and the registered needs.  

"We feel a pressure on the kindergarten "Solnisco". We need to improve the conditions and renovate some spaces to open other mixed groups. The requests for the next academic year may exceed our capacities", says the deputy mayor of Ungheni, Dionisie Ternovschi.

Echipa UNICEF Moldova la depozitul de alimente și lucruri necesare pentru refugiați

As a result of the mission, the UNICEF Moldova team analyzed all the needs and concerns of families and children of Ukraine who took refuge in Ungheni and will implement several projects related to their integration into the community improving access to medical services, education, and social assistance.  

We specify that, at present, the UNHCR and UNICEF teams from the Republic of Moldova and Romania are working together to set up two Blue Dots at the Leușeni-Albița border crossing point. Specifically, psychological counseling and information services, and designated spaces for mothers with young children will be organized. Furthermore, UNICEF is examining the possibility of setting up a mobile Blue Dot to provide essential services to refugees. Child protection specialists will also support the Border Police in identifying unaccompanied children or separated from their parents to prevent trafficking and abuse.  

Regarding health care services, the UNICEF Moldova team, in partnership with the Early Intervention Center "Voinicel" plans to establish a center for children with disabilities in Ungheni, to which refugee children will also have access. At the same time, in the next period, it is planned to equip educational institutions with school supplies and equip a laboratory with computers and other materials necessary to improve children's access to education. Moreover, it is planned to organize holiday camps to integrate refugee children and to involve education specialists, such as teachers from Ukraine, in the education system of the Republic of Moldova with a set payment of salaries.  

To date, UNICEF Moldova, in partnership with central and local authorities and development partners, has already established three Blue Dot centers in the Republic of Moldova. According to the data, in the last 30 days alone, 2,220 people, of whom 1,146 children, have benefited from essential counseling services and friendly spaces.