Diaspora engagement is one of the core components of the RRR-MFA/SMS UA project. Ukraine has a well-organised diaspora, actively engaged and motivated, with a high level of participation. Therefore, the project considers close cooperation and collaboration with prominent Ukrainian diaspora organisations as an integral part of the programme and supported several recent events carried out precisely for diaspora empowerment.
The full-scale military Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 sparked the displacement of millions of Ukrainians abroad, with over five million obtaining Temporary Protection status in EU MS. It is interesting to note the active involvement of Ukrainian diaspora organisations amid the migration crisis that started in early 2022. Most importantly, Ukrainian diaspora organisations and migrant communities played a vitally important role, not only as first responders at the outbreak of the conflict but also as mentors to the newly arrived refugees in EU MS. Furthermore, in addition to the political mobilisation and provision of humanitarian aid, not only to the temporarily displaced persons but also mobilising aid to be sent to Ukraine, the Ukrainian diaspora and their activities now include additional roles to support those fleeing the war. The Ukrainian diaspora has become a frontline responder providing immediate support and an important medium, and a long-term bridge between EU MS institutions and the Ukrainian communities.
The RRR-MFA/SMS project focuses on the three EU MS with the majority of Ukrainian temporary protection status holders: Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. Funded by the Ministry of Interior of Germany and the Czech Republic, activities geared towards diaspora engagement have taken place mostly in the two countries thus far. After conducting a general assessment of existing diaspora organisations and the fields they are mostly active in, the project team held multiple meetings with various Ukrainian diaspora organisations and their representatives, planning joint capacity-building activities in order to strengthen the role and capacities of these organisations, especially considering the current situation and the upcoming process of rebuilding Ukraine.
Support to the Ukrainian diaspora organisations in the Czech Republic
On 26-27 March 2023, a Workshop on Diaspora Engagement for Ukrainian Organisations took place in Prague and brought together over 80 participants from all over Czech Republic. Held at the House of National Minorities in the historical centre of Prague, the event gathered a number of high-profile guests: Ms. Klara Simackova Laurencikova, the Czech Government Commissioner for Human Rights spoke about the current activities of the Commission of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs for the Integration of Refugees and the Government Council for National Minorities, the Director of the House of National Minorities Mr. Jakub Štědroň and the Charge d’Affaire of theEmbassy of Ukraine in Prague Mr. Vitalii Usatyi gave an introduction and welcoming note as well as. ICMPD held a presentation on the organisation as well as the ongoing project, including our vision on diaspora engagement and ways forward. Furthermore, the RRR-MFA/SMS project team also participated in the working groups on the most important topics for the Ukrainian diaspora organisations, such as propaganda and disinformation, humanitarian aid, youth and culture, and the Ukrainian voice in the Czech Republic (communication and PR).
Support to Ukrainian diaspora organisations in Germany
On 22-23 April 2023, the RRR-MFA/SMS project team co-organised and actively participated in a Networking Event, bringing together representatives of prominent Ukrainian Diaspora Organisations from all around Germany, in order to facilitate networking opportunities as well as share information on the ongoing initiatives concerning Ukrainian migrants and temporarily displaced persons in Germany. The event also included a presentation and Q&A with Oleksii Makeiev, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany, along with representatives of the Consular Section. The Ambassador addressed some of the most pressing matters and had a chance to hear the voices of the diaspora as well. The RRR-MFA/SMS project team presented activities regarding diaspora engagement and empowerment. In addition, the project team provided a training on Fundraising Opportunities and Financial Management for diaspora organisations. A representative of the Ministry of Interior of Germany, Mr. Markus Priesterath presented the importance of volunteering and civil society engagement in Germany. The event was co-organised in close cooperation with the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Alliance of Ukrainian Organisations in Germany.
Networking Event and Support to the European Congress of Ukrainians
Most recently, on 27-28 May 2023, the European Congress of Ukrainians (EKU) Networking Event and Workshop for Diaspora Organisations took place in Berlin, Germany. The event, held by the RRR-MFA/SMS project team in close cooperation with the European Congress of Ukrainians, a pan-European coordinating organisation that represents the interests of Ukrainians in Europe, gathered Ukrainian diaspora representatives from more than 25 European countries. Mr. Bohdan Rajcinec, Chairman of ECU, opened the event, followed by working group meetings on topics such as diplomacy, public affairs, humanitarian aid and information and presentations of new Diaspora Organisations. Furthermore, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany, Mr. Oleksii Makeiev spoke at the conference, underlining the importance of diaspora engagement in such turbulent times for Ukraine. The president of the World Congress of Ukrainians, Mr. Pavlo Grod, also welcomed the participants and took part in the working groups (diplomatic, public, humanitarian, informational) and regional platforms of the European Congress of Ukrainians. The RRR-MFA/SMS project team provided a highly-coveted training on fundraising opportunities, proposal writing and general project management principles for diaspora organisations.
What is the role of Ukrainian diaspora organisations in a short- and mid-term perspective? How does Ukraine as a state see its engagement with Ukrainians abroad? What are the capacities and needs of Ukrainian diaspora in many European countries and what is their vision for the future when the war against Ukraine is over?
Throughout this recent experience working closely with Ukrainian diaspora organisations, we have collected information, analysis, impressions and ideas on how to proceed with engagement activities. More importantly, the project team plans to analyse our overall impressions of the Ukrainian diaspora engagement in the aftermath of the Russian military invasion and the continuous capacity-building activities planned for Fall-Winter 2023.
Needless to say, we hope with great intentions that the war will end soon. As we all expect, the process for return and reintegration in Ukraine will be difficult. Within the framework of the RRR-MFA/SMS UA project, we hope that when that time comes, we can equip the Ukrainian diaspora organisations and migrant communities with knowledge and skills to support fellow Ukrainians’ return back to their home countries and even participate in the reconstruction and rebuilding efforts of the country.