European Neighbourhood Instrument Cross-Border Cooperation (ENI CBC) projects working with Ukraine have reacted to the Russian aggression by repurposing their activities in the face of the humanitarian crisis and the massive influx of refugees.
ENI CBC says its projects “didn’t lose a day to put forward their infrastructures, their human capital, the contacts established in years of cooperation, and started working round the clock to support the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their native land”.
Projects operating in Poland are bearing the brunt of the burden.
For example, a Polish monastery started collecting aid and delivering it across the border to a Ukrainian convent, turned from a previous cultural heritage partner to a refugee shelter. “What a week before was just a sacred route to inspire tourism – the TwinMonasteries project – was quickly converted into a refugee-highway bringing safety to people,” says a press release from ENI CBC.
A training centre built to instruct mountain rescue teams by the SOSRescue project became a temporary refuge for volunteer doctors and rescue staff on duty 24/7 at the border crossing.
The premises of a centre created to help autistic children by the DcbcforAutism project were opened to host fleeing families, while goods were collected to be distributed – from blankets to bottled water and cat food. The Polish beneficiary of CBC4animals project started collecting stranded animals, bringing them to safety in a shelter previously renovated as part of the project.
The book project ‘Let’s get to know each other’ decided to set up in Suwalki, Poland, an exhibition of pictures from the partner-city of Ternopil, in Ukraine, showing what the city was like in peaceful times. The project also engaged in building an open-air library with Ukrainian and Polish books, to recall the links between the neighbouring countries.
The Programme Managing Authority itself was also involved in different activities, including advocacy actions. At the same time, the Joint Technical Secretariat and the Lviv Branch Office handed over thermal clothing, medical supplies and sleeping bags to a partner association across the border, active within the SECINCARP project.
In Romania, a volunteer-support service was set up by the Smart4youth project to assist partners in their escape and resettlement. The JIQL project – from the Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine programme – has managed to organise the transport and hospitalisation of sick Ukrainian children in an oncology centre in Slovakia.
ENI CBC also announced it would further support the projects in their new activities. To this end, the European Commission and the Managing Authorities of the five ENI CBC programmes cooperating with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova will meet in Brussels this week to discuss how to bolster the support of Ukrainian migrants.
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