The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR and UNICEF have reported that about 234,000 Ukrainian refugees were able to use protection and support services provided by 36 "Blue Dot" hubs across seven countries.
Since the escalation of the war in Ukraine, some 234,000 Ukrainian refugees were able to use the services of protection and support provided by 36 Blue Dot Hubs set up in seven countries by UN agencies UNHCR and UNICEF, the organizations said in a statement on Wednesday, September 21.
The Blue Dot Hubs are "one-stop safe places equipped to provide information, counselling, mental health and psychosocial support, legal aid and protection services for refugees."
They were created with the objective of providing assistance to all refugees, with a particular focus on minors, people with disabilities or medical needs, the elderly, people who might have been trafficked, survivors of violence and refugees from the LGBTQI+ community.
The Blue Dots also have the aim of identifying and supporting unaccompanied minors and separated children travelling alone, as well as provide for informal education and early childhood care for children on the move.
A fundamental space for assistance
"The international armed conflict in Ukraine has created a protection crisis for women, children and those most vulnerable, who account for the vast majority of those fleeing Ukraine," said Pascal Moreau, regional refugee coordinator for the Ukraine situation.
"Blue Dot Hubs, aimed at supporting community centers and efforts at the municipal level, play a key role in identifying and providing support to women, children, people with disabilities and other vulnerable people, who we know face greater risks of gender-based violence, trafficking, abuse, psychological distress and family separation."
Since February this year, UNHCR and UNICEF have quickly set up Blue Dots at the main crossings, along transit routes and in urban areas in neighboring countries that hosted refugees. These include train stations, border points, cash assistance enrolment centers, refugee accommodation centers and community centers.
To date, 36 Blue Dot Hubs have been established in Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, complementing the work of governments and other partners in supporting refugees.
"An estimated 7.1 million Ukrainians, most of them women and children, are refugees in Europe," said Afshan Khan, UNICEF regional director for Europe and Central Asia. "Blue Dot Hubs have been a vital extension of services provided by the host governments," Khan noted.
Digital Blue Dots on smartphones, devices
As many Ukrainian refugees continue to flee their country or remain on the move and are largely reliant on information from social media and other online sources to make decisions about where and how to travel, where to settle down, and how to access services, UNHCR and UNICEF have also launched a "Digital Blue Dot", (https://bluedothub.org/).
This digital platform complements the physical Blue Dot Hubs, providing refugees with access to updates, accurate and localized information on their mobile phones, including on rights and entitlements, key social services and providers and how to access them and stay safe, the statement said. The Digital Blue Dot is available in several languages, including Ukrainian and Russian.