At the time of writing this, about 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine because of the Russian invasion of the country. All in all, some 10 million Ukrainians are reported to be displaced. It’s staggering to think that in a little over a month, about a quarter of the country’s population has had to leave behind their lives and livelihoods, their family and friends. Many more are expected to follow in the weeks and months ahead. Most of them don’t know where they will end up, for how long they will be gone, or if they will ever return. About half are children (some unaccompanied); very few are men between the ages of 18-60, as they are the ones expected to stay and fight.
Ukrainians of all ages and sexes are witnessing the physical destruction of their homes and cities; of their people. It’s hard to wrap your head around how anyone can move on from circumstances like these, let alone rebuild a life. The effects of war may be felt immediately but the consequences are long-lasting. Sometimes they are felt for generations.
That’s because, besides the physical and psychological damages, there is an impact on social structures, relationships, careers, and education. Starting over in a new country where you don’t know the language or the customs; where perhaps your degree is not valid, or your children’s schooling is upended, is not easily done even in the best of circumstances.
So far, most of the refugees have ended up in neighboring countries to Ukraine, with over 2 million in Poland. And while being out of Ukraine means relative safety, it doesn’t mean the end of hardship. For many, this is just the first stop, it remains to be seen where they will end up, and what the conditions will be like.
Typically, refugees face a long period of uncertainty, even after they have arrived in a safe spot, not knowing if they will be allowed to stay, or what their status will be. In the case of Ukraine, the EU has made an emergency decision that allows Ukrainian refugees to work, send children to school, and get housing and social welfare. In addition, the European Union recently assigned 500 million euros (roughly $549 million) for humanitarian aid to Ukraine. In the US, lawmakers have agreed on an emergency aid package that would steer $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The US also approved an additional $800 million in security assistance and has announced that it will accept up to 100,000 refugees.
The sheer number of refugees in such a short amount of time has brought many logistical and practical challenges. Help organizations and volunteers are doing what they can to assist the receiving countries to fulfill the basic needs of refugees. But as the refugees continue on to more permanent situations in other countries, they will need more help and help of a different kind. Once such things as shelter and food are resolved, that’s when the process of rebuilding starts. Part of the ability to rebuild will depend on being adequately prepared to take care of themselves and their families in their new environment.
At Globiana, we can help with some of that. One of our areas of expertise is providing transition support to the globally mobile so that they are better prepared to face life in their new locations. Our country-specific courses provide a knowledge base that can help navigate a new society.
That’s why we are opening up our course catalog to Ukrainian refugees. In an effort to serve them, we are building a dedicated site (our World4Ukraine platform will open its doors on April 7) where the first iteration will provide our courses in English. The work of translating the courses to Ukrainian has already begun and the translated versions will be added to the site as they become available. Over time, we are aiming to become a hub with rich content and additional useful tools for this population.
Furthermore, we are hoping to build partnerships with our colleagues in the larger global mobility community to serve even deeper needs. The global mobility community has a unique position to be able to help — we know the challenges of crossing borders, we have processes, procedures, and channels in place to mitigate some of the biggest hurdles. Together we can make a difference.
Globiana’s tagline is “Humanizing Global Mobility” — what is happening in Ukraine is anything but humane. We are doing our bit to change that.
By: Felicia Shermis