"Ukraine will win the war - Ukraine fights for freedom and Russia fights for slavery": Meet 3 important persons in the EUACI emergency assistance of the Ukrainian people

Meet three important persons in the EUACI emergency assistance of the Ukrainian people

Sold out tickets to Kyiv on the 23 February turned out to be the reason that Anastasia Golovchenko, co-founder of NGO “Chernivtsi Youth Centre”, was not in the capital when Russia invaded Ukraine. By the support of the EUACI, she and two other of the EUACI partners immediately started reorienting their work towards securing safety and refuge for the Ukrainian people.

Anastasia Golovchenko, together with Taras Khavunka, advisor to the mayor of Chervonohrad, and Serhii Yatsyk, integrity adviser at Zhytomyr City Administration, are all core persons when it comes to the EUACI's work with the Integrity Cities (also including Mariupol and Nikopol). With the support of the EUACI, they have, for the last couple of years, worked with interactively educating the youth on integrity and anti-corruption, implementing the numerous integrity tools and advising on regulatory policies about regional economic development.

Supporting humanitarian needs

This all changed when the Russian full-scale military invasion of Ukraine happened on 24 February. The three EUACI partners sought out the support of the EUACI in the following days to reorient their engagements. Golovchenko describes how the Youth Centre “Residence of Youth” established a humanitarian aid centre in cooperation with the City Council on the first day of the full-scale war. "It became a place where everything happens", she explains. spaces for around 300 people were created, and the necessary items were purchased: mattresses, blankets, pillows, food, medicine, fuel, towels, hygiene products, etc. They created a SoMe platform where necessary items could be inquired and provided by the volunteer vehicles that multiple times a day has been going to the hot spots.

In Chervonohrad as well, Khavunka was using the support of the EUACI to acquire necessities for the city and the internally displaced people (IDP) of Ukraine. He explains how he was in contact with EUACI during the first days of the war and quickly became supported in delivering medicine, clothes, technical equipment, footwear, fuel and other necessary supplies to IDPs, Lviv Regional State Administration and the regional state administration for territorial defence. "For me", he says, "it was a huge support at this moment because all our groups, the military forces and the refugees, had a lot of needs".

For Yatsyk at Zhytomyr City Administration, it was a key priority not to let the urgency get in the way of integrity. "It is important to ensure transparency in the provision and receipt of assistance", he says, and further explains: "You need to report and coordinate these amounts of the aid". With the support of the EUACI, the city received 15 diesel generators to ensure the operation of Zhytomyr's critical infrastructure, including hospitals, surgical departments, and more. In addition, EUACI has provided the city with thermal drones and walkie-talkies for the city administration during martial law and cooperates with civil society organisation Greenery, thanks to which activists arrange housing for IDPs. "Although the city today largely plays the role of emergency assistance, we strive to continue to care about the transparency, accountability and efficiency of each of our procurements and activities", Yatsyk concludes.

As for Mariupol, one of the hottest spots of the ongoing war, the city has been blocked by the Russian occupiers for several weeks, green corridors for the evacuation of citizens do not work, and humanitarian aid was barely delivered only a few times during the month and a half of war. Despite that, the EUACI continues to support the local NGO, Mariupol Association of Entrepreneurs, providing humanitarian assistance to Mariupol residents who managed to evacuate to Zaporizhzhia. The same applies to Nikopol, where the EUACI's partner NGO Open Doors actively helps internally displaced people from the eastern regions of Ukraine with grocery kits and emergency items.

Providing technical assistance

Many of the urgent needs of IDPs and cities of Ukraine have been more technical. Khavunka at the Chervonohrad's mayor's office highlights that many of the e-tools used to secure the integrity and transparency of the cities have been helpful in the technical needs of emergency assistance. 

Another grantee that EUACI has helped reorient and provide additional assistance is the NGO Lviv Regulatory Hub. Before the war, they cooperated in local economic development, effective regulatory and anti-corruption policy. However, with the emergence of new challenges and rapid, constructive and comprehensive cooperation, only in the first month since the beginning of the war, they managed to purchase critical goods and necessities for more than 4,000,000 UAH.

Since the beginning of the cooperation of the EUACI with the Integrity Cities in 2017, a number of e-tools have been developed to increase the transparency of local self-government. One of the major projects is GeoPortal, implemented in each of the Integrity Cities and designed to make the city data user-friendly, accessible and understandable for the citizens, CSOs, media and business community. Now the challenge is to secure such integrity tools, city administrations' websites, and other previous developments to protect the cities' informational infrastructure, which will be vital for their reconstruction in the postwar period.

To Yatsyk at the Zhytomyr city administration, it is a whole science to find out what the urgent needs of the country actually are: "There are more and more requests for humanitarian aid every day, but it is necessary not only to coordinate them but also to analyse them."  To him, it is the analysis and assessment of real needs and available resources that will be able to help the city assist more effectively and directly to people in need. Today, most of the mayors' integrity advisors in Integrity Cities are engaged in such analysis, but shortly they want to launch automated analytical solutions for these needs.

Hope for the future

Even though their everyday lives are now filled with the terrors of the war, the three EUACI partners do not suffer from tunnel vision. Khavunka at the mayor's office in Chervonohrad says the motivation of colleagues who handled hundreds of requests for humanitarian and refugee aid every day for the first ten days remains incredible. Golovchenko at the Chernivtsi Youth Centre would also describe the people she meets as "tense but hopeful". She does not doubt how the future will unfold: "Of course, Ukraine will win the war - Ukraine fights for freedom and Russia fights for slavery", she concludes the interview.