Atlantic Front municipalities unite to strengthen support for Ukrainian People

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Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia and Matosinhos will join forces to provide a concerted and large-scale response to the new refugee crisis that the invasion of Ukraine is triggering, through the campaign “We are all Ukraine”. This humanitarian response, which seeks to organize the demonstration of support, particularly in offering goods, services, employment, and hospitality, is accessible at or by the number 222 090 420.

“There cannot be no euphemisms or understatements to what is going on. Russia has invaded a free and independent country and is committing a heinous international crime”, Rui Moreira makes clear, certain that “we are free, but so will Ukraine”.

In a ceremony at Casa do Roseiral, this Sunday morning, the Atlantic Front Mayors signed protocols with the Portuguese Psychologists Association, for the implementation of a response in the field of literacy, and psychological health and well-being, within the scope of peace processes, to citizens of Ukrainian nationality, and with the Regional Council of Porto – Portuguese Bar Association, available, in Gabinete do Munícipe, for support services and / or legal advice, pro bono.

For the Mayor of Porto, “this simple act, in which we are all participating today, is absolutely symbolic and representative of what defines us”. “We are all here complying with Democracy and fighting against the tyranny of an aggressor state” said Rui Moreira, adding the will to “stand for Humanism and Solidarity and repudiate barbarity and arrogance”.

Coordinate the community’s example of solidarity

For his part, and “in a time when individualism prevails”, the Mayor of Gaia praised the concerted operation that brings together the three municipalities of the Atlantic Front, “recognizing that the time ahead will be long”.

At that time, Eduardo Vítor Rodrigues believes, that “volunteering must be fused with organization, resilience and some of the professionalism municipalities bring because they have the ability to coordinate the energies we have in our territory”. Recalling the Ukrainian community that has long existed in the region, the mayor stresses that “doing things well means joining hands, setting an example” and networking.

In the same sense, Luísa Salgueiro reinforced that “we represent the communities of these municipalities that are truly exemplary when it comes to support and solidarity”. Promptly putting aside “the feeling that could rule, that of helplessness”, the Mayor of Matosinhos, assumes that “that is not how we position ourselves”.

The Mayor of Matosinhos underlines the importance of giving the refugees arriving in the region “a guarantee of integration”, and mentions “decisive areas” of intervention such as health or education. For Luísa Salgueiro. This “We are all Ukraine” is an example of how good will can overcome administrative and bureaucratic barriers”.

Good, hospitality, services, and employment for the Ukrainian people

“We are all Ukraine” provides for the collection of goods at several town halls, then to be stored at the Porto Fire Brigade Battalion, and transported to Poland, free of charge, by Rangel Logistics Solutions, but whose financing has the support of other companies, such as Symington. Meals will also be provided to the volunteers at the logistical collection centers.

Porto City Hall will provide the Ministério da Administração Interna with municipal Civil protection resources and its experience in Humanitarian Support in catastrophic scenarios and war, to be part of possible integrated responses in the psychosocial, logistics and transport areas.

The campaign also includes the creation of a service exchange in several areas – from law, nursing, translation – to help a better integration in our country; the grouping of accommodation offers and availability for reception; and, with the support of dozens of associations representing professionals from various sectors, the creation of an exchange to gather job offers that will be forwarded to the Instituto de Emprego e Formação Profissional.

The extent of all this support was determined in partnership with the needs identified by the Seminário Cristo Rei, in Vila Nova de Gaia, which, since the 26th of February, and in partnership with the Associação dos Ucranianos em Portugal, has been running a campaign to collect essential goods and has already sent four trucks to the front and the border.

Thanking “sincere and sensitive hearts”

This humanitarian response is being developed in cooperation with the Ukrainian Consulate in Porto and also includes the provision of means and responses to support the Seminário, which has offered to provide 105 beds to accommodate refugees.

In this area, and in conjunction with the High Commissioner for Migration and the North Migrant Support Center, the municipality of Gaia makes available the hostel in the Gaia Biological Park, with a capacity for about 50 people, to welcome Ukrainian families, while in Matosinhos there will be 24 beds available at the Community Support Center in Leça da Palmeira.

In terms of welcoming families, solutions will be considered for the integration of refugee children and young people in kindergartens and primary schools, as well as providing educational, food and psychosocial support to displaced families and children.

The Municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia is preparing a special program that will include the teaching of the Portuguese language as well as the collection of essential goods in the city’s schools, that will include the provision of two warehouses to store the donations.

In the institutional portal of Matosinhos City Hall, a form was made available for Ukrainian residents to identify relatives who are in the border countries, so that a transport response can be articulated.

Present at the symbolic ceremony, the chief consul of Ukraine in Porto thanked for the support, at a time when “more and more people need care and material help”, and “for your sincere and sensitive hearts”. “This organized cooperation is a significant support from our community and the Portuguese authorities”, guarantees Alina Ponomarenk, reinforcing the certainty that “the Ukrainian People are dying for the Freedom of Ukraine and Europe”.

The words of Ukraine’s Chief Consul in Porto were heartly applauded by the partner entities present at the ceremony.