At the end of March this year the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced an important partnership with Ukraine’s national postal operator Ukrposhta to launch a large-scale cash assistance programme to help displaced citizens in the country cover their basic needs.The programme’s initial target is to provide 360,000 displaced people in Ukraine with 2,220 Hryvnia (€71) per person per month, for the duration of three months. The money can be collected at Ukrposhta branches – the majority of which are still up and running despite the ongoing conflict with Russia.
The partnership represents the key role postal operators can play in supporting refugees during times of crisis. “Within a month since the UNHCR assistance programme started, Ukrposhta has paid more than 40,000 remittances in cash, amounting to more than 200 million Hryvnia (€6.4 million). Recipients of remittances can receive funds in Ukrposhta’s automated post offices, regardless of their place of residence,” explained Ukrposhta’s Director of Financial Business, Oleh Kliapko.
With its urgent postal money transfer service, Ukrposhta can quickly pay out cash to people in need, and thanks to its large network of operating outlets and ongoing operations despite the conflict, customers can get the money both in rural and urban post offices. “According to our statistics, almost half of recipients have received money on the day of its arrival. This again proves the need to quickly organize the process of issuing financial assistance, which we manage to do even in the difficult conditions of martial law," Kliapko added.
Anja Klug, the Head of the UNHCR Office for Switzerland and Liechtenstein, who featured in a recent UPU Voice Mail podcast on “Working together to support refugees” said that its partnership with Ukrposhta is “a very welcome cooperation” and she encourages other posts to get in touch with the agency if they have ideas on how they can help refugees.
“What refugees desire most is access to normal life,” she comments. “Therefore, it is very important that all actors in society – institutions, organizations, associations, and governments – provide support. We have already seen that posts are important for accessing financial services, but we would very much welcome further support and activities, so any good idea a postal operator comes to us with, we will consider.”
Financial assistance is just one way Ukrposhta is supporting the millions of refugees that have either been displaced within Ukraine or fled to neighboring countries. The Post has also introduced several special services to ensure displaced citizens still have access to postal services. For example, it has launched a “Parcel from home” service, which enables customers to send personal belongings to refugees at a reduced price to Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary. According to Ukrposhta, around 44,000 parcels with a total weight of around 400 tonnes have already been sent to these countries.
The operator is also offering a free redirection service for postal items within Ukraine and free storage of postal items, which cannot be delivered due to hostilities, at postal facilities until they can be delivered.
Many other posts have also introduced various initiatives to help people who have had to leave Ukraine. “Worldwide, posts have collected more than 1,700 tonnes of humanitarian aid and delivered it to Ukrposhta,” explained Ukrposhta’s Director of the International Operations Department, Julia Pavlenko. “From the first days [of the war], we have received massive help from the postal operators of Romania, Georgia, Poland, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, Norway, and Germany. These posts have arranged campaigns among their customers to collect the most necessary goods and delivered them to the Ukrainian border at their own expense. There, Ukrposhta has loaded the aid on its trucks and delivered it to those regions in Ukraine where people needed it the most.”
“Almost all European posts are also helping Ukraine by donating to aid agencies, fundraising, issuing special stamps, and offering free services, accommodation, and jobs to Ukrainian refugees. We are grateful to the citizens of all these countries for their solidarity, and we appreciate the commitment of their postal workers in supporting Ukraine,” Pavlenko added.
UPU is in contact with Ukrposhta, as well as Posts of neighboring countries and non-profit organizations, to elaborate and explore possible technical assistance projects in support of displaced people and refugees.
Learn more about how the UPU is helping provide assistance to Ukraine through its Emergency and Solidarity Fund and Quality of Service Fund.
Learn more about initiatives launched by UPU member countries in support of Ukraine.
More about the UPU Voice Mail podcast episode with UNHCR.