When the war in Ukraine reached Kristina’s* city, killing her husband and destroying her home, she had no option but to flee. She is now one of over 96,000 refugees that have chosen to stay in the Republic of Moldova.
Kristina found safety and support in Ungheni, a community close to the border with Romania, which has deep historical ties to Ukraine. This small village welcomed Kristina and provided her with an old house to live in – which mirrors how many refugees in this country have found accommodation. She says she is happy to have a roof over her head.
“I had nothing after I had to leave Ukraine!” she said. “With the money I receive every month, I go to the local market and buy what I need. Last time, I bought soap and utensils like a kettle and a stove. Now I can make food at home.”
The money she refers to is cash assistance from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA. Kristina uses it to buy food as well as household supplies. This kind of support is particularly important to help her prepare for the winter time.
Cash-based interventions are both an efficient and effective way to deliver assistance in areas with functioning markets. Cash assistance can address diverse needs, reduce protection risks, and contribute to solutions through rights-based and community-based approaches. When combined with payment technologies, such as cash cards, cash assistance can help facilitate financial inclusion and sustainable solutions. In addition, the benefits of cash extend to the larger community as well. It helps boost local markets and catalyse positive interactions with host communities.
Importantly, cash assistance also provides the dignity of choice; refugees decide for themselves how to prioritize and meet their needs. Kristina’s current priority is straightforward: “I have nowhere to go; I can’t return home and I don’t wish to travel anywhere else. I just want a safe and friendly place to stay.”
Kristina enrolled in UNHCR’s cash assistance programme at the Ungheni Community Services Centre, one of seven cash enrolment centres in Moldova operated by UNHCR partner, the Catholic Relief Service (CRS). This is also where she verified her identity and presence after two months, which is required of all refugees who receive support.
As of 1 November 2022, more than 96,000 refugees in the Republic of Moldova have received at least one monthly payment – a total of over USD 44 million in international support has been disbursed so far. This money is transferred via cash cards that only work inside the country.
UNHCR’s cash programme in Moldova is funded by generous contributions from the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the United States of America; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Italy; the Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO); the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Denmark; the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Sweden; and the Ministry of Interior Czech Republic.
* Name changed for protection reasons.
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