The Youth for the City, City for Youth project has been adapted to the situation in Ukraine and Poland, and now has a stronger focus on inclusion of young people.
In the days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine on 24. February, a large number of refugees crossed the Polish border. Lublin City is situated near the borders both of Ukraine and Belarus, and the situation required quick thinking and fast action. In the early hours after the attack, Municipality of Lublin immediately set up a local crisis team to deal with the situation. At the time, they could not know that 1 million refugees should move through the Lublin area in the next months.
At the heart of Lublin’s response stands the volunteers, many of them young people who do not have any prior experience with crisis management. Since the war started, volunteers in Lublin have worked 24/7 to assist with transport, food, accommodation, information hot lines, psychological support, and other forms of assistance. They are an example of how young people can take leadership in times of crisis.
In September, a group of the young volunteers from Lublin visited EWC and other organisations in Oslo, as a part of our Youth for the City, City for Youth project. They came to share their experiences, and to learn about integration, inclusion, and youth participation in Norway.
In the hours, days and months after the war started, more than 3 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed the Polish border. In May 2022 Lublin’s population had grown by 20 percent, and the city exceeded 400 000 residents, of which 17 percent were Ukrainians. Some Ukrainians have now left the city to back to more stable areas of Ukraine, while quite many has stayed in Lublin.
Both the municipality, local civil society organizations, and many volunteers have been engaged in the support and inclusion of refugees. To support inclusion, the city decided early that children and young people from Ukraine should be included into classes with Polish students in school, not being in separate classes. At the same time, they facilitate for Ukrainian students to follow digital learning in Ukraine. Moreover, the city hired 50 Ukrainian teachers in the schools, to support Ukrainian children and young people.