Since February 2022, Moldova has been largely affected by Russia’s war against Ukraine. More than 889,000 people have crossed the border from Ukraine to Moldova seeking safety and refuge. According to the UNHCR, a total of 116,835 Ukrainian refugees were still in the country at the end of July 2023.
Almost one quarter of Moldova’s population lives below the national poverty line. Household income is largely dependent on remittances as Moldova is a country of massive economic out-migration. This emigration leaves behind a shrinking and aging population, especially in the rural areas which are characterized by a lack of reliable and quality services.
In addition, the difficulties faced by the Moldovan population were exacerbated during winter 2022 by the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the energy crisis, and the significant rise in inflation.
At last, Moldova’s development is currently hindered by the ongoing conflict over the Russian-backed breakaway region of Transnistria which has been frozen since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the persisting inequalities between the many diasporas living in the country.
The ‘PLACE’ Consortium, consisting of Acted, REACH Initiatives (IMPACT), People in Need, and Norwegian Refugee Council, with the financial support of the European Union, aims to provide emergency aid in Moldova to the most vulnerable conflict-affected populations fleeing Ukraine and to vulnerable Moldovans, to guarantee inclusion and reduce social tensions. The project provides multisector support including protection case management and service referrals, psychosocial counselling, legal information, counselling, and financial assistance for six months to offset rental costs to the targeted beneficiaries.
Victoriya is a 42-year-old psychologist, therapist, and behavioural analyst who came to Chisinau, Moldova, from Odesa, Ukraine, almost a year ago.
Upon her arrival in August 2022, she lived with her sister, who moved to Moldova immediately after the start of the full-scale war, while she was looking for the apartment in which she now lives with her two sons. Her youngest son is nine years old, and it was difficult for him to move to Moldova because of the language barrier. Her 79-year-old mother remained in Ukraine and refused to move from her native place.
Victoriya learned about Acted’s cash for rent assistance program implemented thanks to EU’s financial assistance via social media, where the launch of the program was announced. She submitted her application at the end of March 2023 and received approval in June, which was a big surprise for her – due to financial difficulties, she was thinking of returning to Ukraine even though shelling at home was more frequent. The approval of the application helped her make the decision to stay in Moldova.
It is a very significant help for a person who has only recently moved to a new city and as a specialist who has to look for new clients.
Victoriya describes her work with warmth – she has been working with children with special needs and with children on the autistic spectrum for more than eight years.
In Odesa, she had her own office and a large client base, compared to Chisinau where it is more difficult to find a job because of the language barrier.
One of the children that I’m currently working with is a three-year-old girl and the trainings are held in Romanian. I’m learning the language with the child.
One of her immediate professional plans is to make her office in her three–room apartment.
For two months now, Victoriya has been receiving financial support for rental housing, for which she is grateful. Her only wish is a continuation of the project.
Acted, together with its partners, is fully committed to support families like Victoriya’s to improve housing conditions and enable them to live in a place where they can feel more secure, with new job opportunities.
They can also improve access to medical, educational facilities and other services, and increase certainty in their lives.