On 13th April, EPIC partners and external actors gathered together for the 3rd EPIC webinar “From emergency reception to an inclusive and sustainable response: the narrative of a human-based system to welcome refugees from Ukraine”. During the webinar, participants listened and talked to activists in a safe space, discussing the impact of harmful narratives and on the need for a sustainable reception.
Kateryna Rusetska, artist and activist from Dnipro, who works closely with our EPIC partner Kitev, talked about the importance of using the right word when discussing the current Ukrainian circumstances. Hence, she stressed the importance of calling this situation as what is is: As she said: “it’s not a conflict, it’s not Putin’s war, it is a real war”. She emotionally continued by expressing Ukrainians’ pain and suffering, alongside with anger.
Furthermore, Yulia Krichiv, Ukrainian activist living in Poland, focused as well on the choice of the right vocabulary. This war, she said, it’s an “imperial and colonial war”, as happened, she continued, to the so-called “post-soviet countries [that] are actually post-colonial countries”.
“We lack a narrative to feel powerful in peaceful times” – Hania Hakiel
Hania Hakiel, psychotherapist and supervisor working in the field of refugee trauma, closed the panelist round. According to her, we lack a narrative to feel powerful in peaceful times, thus we talk about refugees only through an emergency narrative. Furthermore, she analysed the psychological attitude of people helping refugees, and how they expected refugees to always be grateful, without realising that by so doing, an unbalanced bond among people may be created.
After the guests’ speeches, EPIC partners intervened explaining how they are managing the arrival of new comers, how states and institutions are lacking of cooperation and mutual support, thus leaving the management to private and no-profit organisations. In addition, they reflected on how Ukrainians have been promised to reach western Europe and easily access the labour market, while finding accommodations, and on how all this narrative became problematic to help them settling in a new country. Having that in mind, EPIC partners are constantly working to ensure that Ukrainians feel safe and have access to essential public services, but in order to do so, the right narrative is needed.
The webinar ended with a Q&A from the audience and from partners, while, as agreed, there was no conclusion on the matter, as it is impossible to have it at this moment. Nonetheless, this webinar further illustrated the importance of considering a more human-based system when it comes to welcoming refugees.