In several municipalities across the country, a new role is being piloted – the Ukrainian Friendship Officer. This specialist will facilitate the social integration of Ukrainian refugees and their interaction with various structures in the Republic of Moldova. The new employees will operate in 14 localities that are members of the “Mayors for Economic Growth” (M4EG) initiative, funded by the European Union and implemented UNDP. The first training for future employees took place with the support of the Congress of Local Authorities of Moldova (CALM).
The Ukrainian Friendship Officers will operate in Bălți, Cahul, Călărași, Cărpineni, Ceadîr-Lunga, Cimișlia, Copceac, Dondușeni, Drochia, Palanca, Selemet, Strășeni, Telenești, and Ungheni.
“These employees will play an extremely important role in contributing to community cohesion. They are to promote an inclusive and supportive environment, dignity, rights, and well-being of all people, regardless of their environment or circumstances,” says Valentin Croitoru, project coordinator.
Following the pilot, CALM will develop a set of recommendations for local and central administration regarding the establishment of such units in other localities of the country.
The Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) initiative, in response to the influx of Ukrainian refugees into Moldova, conducted rapid assessments to identify the needs of local authorities and provided emergency support to 14 localities. M4EG facilitated job support initiatives, including job fairs, assisting 71 refugees in their employment efforts. Additionally, the initiative launched a Response & Renewal Grant Programme to address the immediate and long-term challenges. These efforts were complemented by social cohesion events and improvements in public service access, installation of Wi-Fi hotspots, Romanian language courses, and professional training courses to aid in the socio-economic integration of refugees.