Vitaliy Klitschko, President of the
Association of Ukrainian Cities and Mayor of Kyiv, launched with the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, a broad initiative aimed at organising summer camps for Ukrainian children in European cities and villages.
European mayors and governors are at work with their Ukrainian colleagues to organise the transfer and stay of children from Ukraine's local communities worse affected by the war. The project was presented during the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), EU's assembly of local and regional authorities.
The initiative is addressed to children and youth of primary, secondary and high school age (from 6 to 17 years) and accompanying caregivers (1 adult per 10 children), who will have the chance to stay with their peers and receive targeted psychological support to stabilize their emotional state and help distract them from traumatising experiences.
"We are grateful that our European friends receive the Ukrainian children affected by the war. The experience and emotions that children will get in the EU summer camps will allow them to feel that Ukraine is part of Europe. Europe is waiting for us and we, the Ukrainians, are welcome in Europe." said Mr Klitschko.
"This project is a concrete and crucial priority for us.
CoRMembers from all across the Union have already shown their willingness to welcome children and are mobilised to disseminate information about this initiative among all EU's local and regional authorities, in cooperation with leading territorial associations", said Mr Tzitzikostas.
"In front of the magnitude of the tragedy we are facing, we must focus not only on what we are already doing but on what we can do more. In this respect, I fully support the proposal of summer camp programmes for children to be organised jointly with the Association of Ukrainian Cities. I am pleased to confirm that Rome will join the programme and will do its part in it", stated the Mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri, who joined the CoR plenary debate.
The overall aim is to create a space where they will be able to feel safe, and find normality through a balanced daily routine that could contribute to restoring confidence in the future. Outdoor activities, sports and rehabilitation activities would help to improve physical and mental health. Development classes will enrich the knowledge of each child or young person and provide the experience of communicating in a foreign language while professional psychological support should be available in the children's mother tongue.
The duration of camps will be of 4-5 weeks or more, depending on the availability of local organisers. The costs of children' stay in the camp, including the journey and activities during the camp, are covered by the host local/regional authority with potential involvement of local private partners' host party.
The Association of Ukrainian Cities, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European receiving authorities, will take care of administrative procedures needed for the journey, as well as the stay in the host authority.
The Association is currently collecting the needs of each municipality and, with the support of the European Committee of the Regions, the availability coming proposals from European partners.
The Committee urged EU institutions to simplify the access to EU funding by regions and cities coping with the refugee crisis and calls to mobilise existing EU programmes to support hosting authorities in this specific initiative context, focusing in particular on the European Fund for Regional Development and the European Social Fund.
Interested local and regional authorities can contact the CoR
Help Ukraine InfoSupport Hub here:
Andrew Gardner – European Committee of the Regions
+32 473 843 981
Tetyana Kutsenko - Association of Ukrainian cities
Yuliia Bandura - Association of Ukrainian cities