TALLINN As we approach the two years mark since the full-scale invasion, millions of people, both in Ukraine, and refugees across the region, continue to need support. The majority hope to return to Ukraine one day, but just 14 per cent plan to do so in the near future.
The Estonia chapter of the Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP), which is led by UNHCR in support of the Government, is being launched today. The RRP covers activities from January to December 2024 and outlines the key strategic priorities that humanitarian actors will pursue to assist refugees living in Estonia.
Recognizing the lead role of the Governments, this plan outlines and brings together collective efforts of local, national and international civil society and international organizations. For the activities and response in Estonia, as set out in the 2024 plan, UNHCR and partners are seeking US$ 10.6 million with a target of reaching 55,000 refugees with assistance.
“Estonia has been very generous and extended protection and assistance on par with its nationals to the Ukrainian refugees. As UNHCR we commend Estonia for this and also recognize the efforts done by so many civil servants and organizations who used their creativity and expertise to help. As in any refugee situation many vulnerable refugees still need help and through the RRP we hope to ensure that refugees also be given opportunities to use and build their talents to prepare them for eventual voluntary return when the situation allows,” UNHCR’s Representative in the Nordic and Baltic Countries, Annika Sandlund, says.
In 2023, RRP partners in Estonia reached 17,600 Ukrainian refugees with support and protection services, working to provide them with information and assistance so they could be included in national systems. This assistance included food assistance, winter clothing, hygiene kits and non-food items, cash, and humanitarian transport.
In 2023, the US, Germany, Norway, and Sweden contributed with important financial support to RRP partners in Estonia and provided funds to assist with basic needs and inclusion of refugees from Ukraine in Estonia.
“We want to thank all donors who help Estonian organizations with providing important support to refugees from Ukraine”, says Annika Sandlund. “This year we extend our funding call to donors in the private sector in Estonia and call also on them to contribute with their financial support, especially to NGOs and to refugee led organizations in Estonia. We need to invest in the human capital of the refugees which can benefit Estonia today and Ukraine tomorrow when they are able to return”.
The RRP serves as an effective channel for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing, to ease the pressure on the host community and foster social cohesion while overall complementing and supporting the government-led responses. However, participating in the plan or appealing through it does not guarantee funding. The RRP is a coordination mechanism, aimed at ensuring complementarity of action with the government response, responding to the needs on the ground as evidenced through multi-sector needs analyses. The RRP provides the government as well as donors with an overview of who-does-what-where, the totality of funds needed, and an outline of the main activities of all partners. By appealing in the RRP, agencies working on the response coordinate with each other and support the government-led efforts. The government is in charge of the overall response.
Click here to learn more about the RRP and UNHCR’s work in Estonia.