On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine which resulted in a large amount of displacement of people internally and across international borders. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, more than 958,232 people have crossed the border from Ukraine into Moldova, and as of mid-October 2023, over 111,000 Ukrainian refugees were still in Moldova, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This crisis adds to the ongoing difficulties facing Moldova, where nearly a quarter of the population lives below the national poverty line.
The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, together with the energy crisis, inflation, and the absence of dependable and high-quality services, has brought the hard economic condition for the people of Moldova.
Moldova’s development is hindered by the ongoing conflict over the Russian-backed region of Transnistria, which has been frozen since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and by persistent inequalities between the many diasporas living in the country.
To ensure appropriate accommodation for refugees and vulnerable Moldovans in the medium term, Acted, as part of the EU-funded PLACE consortium, has launched a cash for rent assistance programme.
Andrii and Yulia came to Moldova from a town called Mohyliv-Podilskyi located in Vinnytsia oblast, in Ukraine. Andrii worked as a sales manager for building materials, Yulia studied accountancy and worked as a pharmacy assistant, and together they raised two children – a son and a daughter. Both children were going to school, the family had its own house and was renovating it.
We never thought anything could change. But then the war began. We didn't leave immediately because there were no active military operations in our town. As soon as the rockets were fired nearby, I decided it was time to leave. We came to Moldova only for safety. We chose Moldova because it is close to our home and our mentality. We feel at home here.
Upon arrival in Moldova, the family was lodged in a refugee accommodation centre located in the Floresti raion of Moldova. There, they made new friends and started to plan their stay in Moldova. However, after a while, representatives from the government came and announced the closure of the centre. At the same time, an Acted staff member came to the centre to talk about the financial assistance programme for six months’ rent.
At the beginning, joining the programme was scary because we didn't know how it would work. We were unsure if we could become participants and find a place to live. Also, we were unsure which city to search in.
At first the family wanted to find a flat in the capital Chisinau, but later they heard that a more comfortable city for Ukrainians would be Balti, the second most populated city in Moldova, located in the north of the country. It is smaller than Chisinau and has a larger Russian-speaking population.
We had no problem finding a flat. We had several options and the first one we looked at became our new home. Other people have problems - some of the owners do not want to rent flats to Ukrainians, and some others do not want to sign a rental contract. Fortunately for us, there were no such problems, and we found a flat very quickly.
There is money set aside in this programme for relocation. Julia and Andrii’s family was allocated funds and within a day were able to move from the refugee centre to a new flat.
Immediately after moving in, Andrii started looking for a job and a week later found one at a cable factory. Now he is undergoing a probationary period. As for Yulia, she is participating in an accounting training course and plans to look for a job afterwards. The children also like Balti – they have made new friends and are learning English with a tutor.
Moving to the city has given us new opportunities.
In Balti, we can integrate faster. Here we feel that life goes on. At the centre we just sat around, but here, the children have a place to go and walk around safely. The project helped us a lot, we got back on track, we started to live like before.
Thanks to the financial support of the European Union and the assistance of Acted, Julia and Andrii are able to save money for a six-month period. This helps them to improve their housing, employment opportunities, access to health care, education, and other services.