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A Statement on SWAN’s continued response to the war in Ukraine

Two months ago, the war in Ukraine began and changed the realities and lives of millions of people. 

We share a deep admiration for our colleagues at Legalife-Ukraine, who in these harsh circumstances managed quickly to mobilize, organize and provide direct support to community members and their families in 15 regions in Ukraine. We also extend our gratitude to our members in neighboring countries who acted quickly and mobilized to accept and support refugees fleeing from the war.

In addition to the information we have distributed so far, including the info sheets and referrals information, we would like to provide a public update on the work we have been doing in the past months to ensure there is adequate support for Ukrainian sex workers and refugees – both in the short-term and with regard to the longer-term impact on sex worker communities and resources throughout the CEECA region. 

 Our efforts began with reaching out into our networks to contact our members in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, and Romania, whilst monitoring the situation and data gathering. We were then able to secure emergency funds for immediate support including food, basic medicines, hygienic products, and preventive kits for our member organizations  Legalife-Ukraine, Sex Work Polska – Poland, Odysseus –Slovakia, and Carusel – Romania

We have developed two regional proposals jointly with regional networks EHRA, ECOM, and Positive Women. The first proposal, which has been approved by Giro 555, builds upon previous emergency support activities to fund basics such as food, clothes, transport, psychological and legal support, rapid sexual & reproductive health screening and protection as well as HIV/STI and Covid tests in Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia. The second, led by Legalife-Ukraine, supports shelters for women sex workers and their children in three Ukrainian cities as well as the documentation of human rights abuses in five. 

On a regional level, our staff attend forums, weekly meetings, and initiatives, engaging all key population networks in the area as well as relevant stakeholders including UN agencies and Global Fund representatives. The goal is to receive and share information and to make sure that sex workers are included in all regional initiatives.

The SWAN Executive Director has been meeting regularly with donors to provide updates on the needs of sex workers in conflict-affected areas. We are also trying to secure long-term support and programming both in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries, where our members may face an increase in sex work among refugees. It is encouraging to see that so far, donors are opening up possibilities to fund activities within EU countries, which have not been eligible for programming in previous years. 

If you would like send a donation to Legalife-Ukraine and support their work you can find their bank details here. Thanks to donations from sex workers and allies all over the world many sex workers and their families from different regions of Ukraine have already received help with medicines, food, water, etc. and will continue to receive it.

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