A sense of community: supporting the inclusion of Ukrainian refugees in the Czech Republic
Despite not sharing a border with Ukraine, the Czech Republic hosts the third-largest Ukrainian refugee population (as of March 2023) in absolute numbers, but first per capita out of the countries in the Refugee Response plan established by the UN. With a grant of almost €400 000 through the Migrant and Refugee Fund, the CEB has been supporting the Refugee Facilities Administration of the Ministry of Interior in welcoming and integrating refugees from Ukraine since 2022.
Two main activities are
implemented under the grant agreement: the acquisition of Czech language
textbooks, and activities supporting the rapid integration of Ukrainian
refugees. The textbooks were purchased in September 2022 and were then
distributed among ten regions of the country.
Navigating life in the Czech Republic
To support the rapid integration of Ukrainian refugees, many activities were realized through cooperation with local NGOs and individual workers. Numerous centers established information points and employed coordinators and interpreters to orient people and accompany them in searching for accommodation, dealing with administration, banking, and medical appointments.
Refugees are also supported in learning the language through courses, community events, and conversation clubs. The overall objective is to enable the refugees to manage their everyday lives independently.
“We are pleased to support the Czech Republic to successfully accommodate a considerable number of refugees from Ukraine.
The activities financed through the Migrant and Refugee Grant, particularly in collaboration with the Refugee Facilities Administration of the Ministry of Interior, NGOs, and local communities, facilitate rapid integration and help refugees and host communities alike,” said Jan Matuska, Country Manager for the Czech Republic.
Forming a community through camps and clubs
To ease the refugees’ settlement into their new lives, many regions established community centers proposing various activities.
For instance, a suburban camp for children in the South Bohemian region included games developing knowledge of the Czech language, art, and sports activities, and was evaluated very positively by both children, parents, and camp staff.
Furthermore, certain centers provide occasional babysitting, and activities specifically designed for mothers. Community club activities also help adults and children familiarize themselves with the Czech environment and culture, organize holiday celebrations, and meet other people.
Offering tailored psychological counseling
Many centers are also providing psychological support tailored to the needs of children, adolescents, families, and parents.
For example, art therapy allows attendees to create and express themselves, as well as process their trauma and relieve stress and anxiety. More traditional psychological counseling is also provided, depending on the needs of the participants.
Providing the right kind of support
To respond to the actual needs of the refugees, surveys and interviews are conducted in certain centers, to keep track of the needs of refugees and consider their situations so that they can be put in contact with relevant social services.
“Thanks to the implementation of this grant, we were able to provide vital services for the refugees from Ukraine and to reach more people who needed assistance,” said Pavel Bacík, the Director of the Refugee Facilities Administration.