Over seven and a half million Ukrainians are now refugees, and nearly seven million people are internally displaced within the country. Civilians who have fled the war have the opportunity to join the UN system as Refugee UN Volunteers in neighboring countries, including Hungary and Slovakia. They have become coordinators, protection officers and translators for refugees like themselves.
Refugee UN Volunteers are integral and invaluable members of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) team in Slovakia. They mirror to UNHCR colleagues the day-to-day life, challenges and resilience of Ukrainian refugees.
Tetiana Korshun and Olena Bilinska, UN Volunteer Protection Assistants with UNHCR in Slovakia, are based in Kosice and Bratislava, respectively. They support UNHCR in communicating with refugee communities.
Olena says that serving with UNHCR is her “possibility to provide immediate help to vulnerable Ukrainian refugees.” For Tetiana, this assignment with UNHCR is her first experience in the UN.
Being a part of such a multicultural team, having an opportunity to learn from people with such different backgrounds and cultural approaches is very inspiring. It is a challenge for me to get used to all changes in my life, and it is great to find myself in such a supportive community. --Tetiana Korshun, UN Volunteer Protection Assistant with UNHCR in Slovakia
In the months since the start of the war, UN Volunteers have also provided mental health, psychosocial support, first aid, health care and access to health care serving with the World Health Organization (WHO) in neighboring countries. Georgiana Andreea Afumateanu, Clinic Manager and Irina Mateescu, Midwife, recruited in Romania, are making an essential contribution in supporting people from Ukraine to access healthcare, including family medicine, sexual and reproductive health services.
Engaging UN Volunteers gives us the support of expert colleagues at a time of unprecedented need. Without their contribution, services like the integrated clinic at RomExpo, where people from Ukraine can access a family doctor, sexual and reproductive health services, or psychological support, would not be possible. UN Volunteers enable us to respond to emerging needs and recruit local experts quickly and we appreciate their service. --Caroline Clarinval, World Health Organization Representative and Head of the country office in Romania
In Poland, national UN Volunteers Aleksander Andrzej Binek, Wojciech Gasiorowski, Karolina Barbara Siupka-Mróz and Joanna Brzezinska serve in mental health consultations, administration, finance coordination and communications of the WHO offices in Warsaw and Rzeszow.
Recruiting UN Volunteers has been catalytical for a rapid response to the current emergency in Europe. Our UN Volunteers have facilitated very important HIV prevention, mental health and psychological support, to mention a few areas. We appreciate their knowledge and their skills, but above all, their dedication and commitment. --Dr. Paloma Cuchí, WHO Representative in Poland
"Currently, almost every person in Poland volunteers", Dr Cuchí continues. "Together we can ensure the health and well-being of the most vulnerable populations, and UN Volunteers are champions to present this mindset to the rest of active global citizens."
The UN is grateful for the compassion and solidarity of Ukraine’s neighbours, who are taking in those seeking safety. In support of its partners, UNV is continuing the recruitment of national and Refugee UN Volunteers in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
the war in Ukraine