In recent weeks, a dark cloud has been grinding against the borders of the European Union. In my earlier statement I already expressed my great disbelief about the atrocities taking place in Ukraine and my condemnation has only increased has only grown. The horror being spread over the Ukrainian people is unacceptable and deeply saddens me.

Fortunately, I am not the only one sharing this opinion. Expressions of support and actions are set up throughout our entire network to reflect on the events taking place in Ukraine. Buildings are lit in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, from the town hall in Põlva to the Rock of Cashel. The people of Kandava took to the streets to show their support and all over Europe, e.g. in Bièvre, Nagycenk and Nadur, relief supplies are collected and shipped to Ukraine and its neighbours.

The most important, however, is how to take care of the many refugees. Ukraine’s immediate neighbours are of course very busy coordinating this immense operation. This also applies to our member villages Strzyzów, Medzev and Ibanesti. I have been in contact several times and I admire the work they do. At the beginning of last week, I received a special request from Teresa Pedrosa from Samuel (Portugal), which I would like to share. She asked me if I could connect her with mayors mr. Góra (Strzyzów, Poland), mr. Smorada (Medzev, Slovakia) and mr. Dan (Ibanesti, Romania). I immediately did so and this led to a very special collaboration. Please read Teresa’s story below and find out how her municipality, with the help of the partners from the Charter, contributes to the accommodation of Ukrainian refugees.

– Boy Scholtze, Charter’s President –

Aware of its responsibilities as a public entity, the Municipality of Soure has established an action programme to support the dramatic humanitarian situation in Ukraine, at three levels of action: the first aimed at the reunion of family members of Ukrainian citizens residing in Soure, the second dedicated to the temporary reception of Ukrainian citizens with no connection to Soure (providing accommodation, food, psychological and legal support) and a third level also intended for Ukrainian citizens wishing to settle in Soure (with the provision of housing, employment, social support, access to healthcare and education). 

The first level aims to bring families together, so we contacted Ukrainian families, living in the Municipality of Soure, who wish to bring their family members in Ukraine to them. In order to make sure this action would be successful, with the help from our Charter’s president Boy Scholtze, contacts were made with three partners from the Samuel Parish Council, members of the European Charter of Rural Communities – Poland (Strzyzow), Romania (Ibanesti) and Slovakia (Medzev), all located at strategic points considering the border with Ukraine and it was proposed that they temporarily welcome in their communities the family members of Ukrainians residing in the Municipality of Soure, for whom the Municipality of Soure will provide transport from that partner community to Portugal. 

The response to this request was prompt and extremely positive. All communities agreed to welcome the people indicated by us, providing them with accommodation and food for the necessary days and even offering to transport them from the Ukrainian border. 

The ease with which we articulate this aid corridor through our partners is proof that Europe is built in this way, from the bases, and that the objectives that were at the birth of the constitution of the European Charter of Rural Communities are still very current and make, today, more sense than ever. 

How proud will Michel Bouchet and Frans Ronnes be of us!! 

  Teresa Pedrosa

– Municipality of Soure (Samuel), Portugal