Education Cannot Wait in Moldova with Strategic Partners Scaling-up its Ukraine Crisis Regional Education Response to US$6.5 Million for Crisis-affected Children and Youth

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ECW Director Yasmine Sherif in Moldova
ECW Director Yasmine Sherif in Moldova

During ECW’s high-level mission – with strategic partners USAID, FCDO/UK and Theirworld – USAID announced a new $18 million contribution, becoming ECW’s third-largest donor.


Expanding on Education Cannot Wait’s (ECW) US$5 million Ukraine First Emergency Response grant announced in March, ECW today announced a new, initial US$1.5 million allocation to support the education in emergencies response for the Ukraine refugee crisis in Moldova while on mission with strategic partners USAIDFCDO/UK and Theirworld. This new allocation brings ECW’s total Ukraine crisis education response to US$6.5 million to date. The new grant will be delivered in partnership with the Government of Moldova to ensure refugee children and youth can access safe and protective learning opportunities. Investments will also benefit children in the host communities. The development of the grant will be facilitated through the coordination mechanism established for the education response.

During the high-level mission, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced an additional US$18 million contribution to the ECW global trust fund to further support ECW education responses in crisis-impacted countries across the globe. This contribution makes the USA the third-largest donor to ECW – the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises – after Germany and the UK.

With an estimated US$30 million funding gap for the emergency education response in Ukraine, ECW calls on donors and strategic partners to urgently provide additional funding to respond to the vast humanitarian crisis unfolding across the region. 

According to recent reports, approximately 400,000 people have crossed the border into Moldova fleeing the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine since February. While the majority continued their journey towards other neighboring countries and Western Europe, Moldova hosts today an estimated 100,000 refugees. These include about 50,000 refugee girls and boys, of whom only 1,800 are currently enrolled in school. 

“Refugee children from Ukraine have fled a brutal war and have arrived dispossessed and traumatized in Moldova. They are very vulnerable and need immediate support. Public schools are open to refugee children, however the capacity is over-stretched and there is a need for urgent mental health and psycho-social services, sanitation, and teachers to respond to the influx of pre-school and school-aged refugee children. With a coordinated and joint-up response in place in Moldova, we can act with speed and therefore we act now,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

“As a leading donor to Education Cannot Wait, the UK is committed to protecting the right of all children to education, including those affected by crisis.  We stand ready to support a coordinated education response for refugee children from Ukraine. Education must be prioritized as an integral part of the ongoing humanitarian response in Ukraine,” said Alicia Herbert, Director of Education, Gender and Equality and Gender Envoy, FCDO.

“For children whose lives have been turned upside down, education offers vital stability and hope for the future. Theirworld will announce additional funding to support refugee education projects in the coming weeks, harnessing its experiences from other emergencies, and campaigning to ensure donors invest 10% of the humanitarian response funding into education,” said Justin van Fleet, President of Theirworld.

“Education is key to refugees living with dignity and is one of the first services requested. We greatly appreciate the support of the Moldovan authorities, teachers and communities in welcoming refugee learners,” said Francesca Bonelli, UNHCR Representative to Moldova. 

“COVID-19 school closures have taught us that learning loss amounts to more than days missed in school,” said UNICEF Representative to Moldova Maha Damaj. “In Moldova, UNICEF is working with partners to help refugee children coming in from Ukraine reclaim their learning experience, in a safe and supportive environment, nurturing their resilience against the traumas of war.”

The war is putting children and adolescents living in Ukraine at grave risk. Recent estimates indicate that almost 5 million refugees have fled Ukraine, with an additional 7.1 million people internally displaced. All school-age children in Ukraine have seen their education disrupted by the conflict, and according to the latest estimates, more than 900 education facilities have been destroyed or damaged in the fighting, and as many as 3.3 million school-aged children require urgent humanitarian assistance.

The new ECW allocation will respond to the rapidly evolving situation in support of the Government of Moldova’s normative framework that is allowing the inclusion of refugee children into the national education system. As part of its overall crisis response, the allocation complements ECW’s US$5 million First Emergency Response in Ukraine. ECW works with governments, donors, UN agencies, civil society organizations and other strategic partners to ensure continuity of education for children impacted by the crisis.


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