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WHO WE AREThe International Organization for Migration (IOM) is part of the United Nations System as the leading inter-governmental organization promoting since 1951 humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all, with 175 member states and a presence in over 100 countries. IOM has had a presence in Czechia since 1998.
Our WorkAs the leading inter-governmental organization promoting humane and orderly migration, IOM plays a key role to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda through different areas of intervention that connect both humanitarian assistance and sustainable development. Across Czechia, IOM provides a comprehensive response to the humanitarian needs of migrants, internally displaced persons, returnees and host communities.
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In the early days of the conflict, sisters Nadiia and Neila arrived in Czechia, motivated primarily by concern for their children. Nadiia is mother of three-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter while Neila has five-year-old daughter. Initially thinking the war would end swiftly, they now realize that it will take longer than expected. With the assistance of the organization Naděje and International Organization for Migration (IOM), they secured housing in the town of Kadaň. Both sisters are now employed, attend Czech language courses, and aspire to help those in need.
Nadia and Neila, sisters hailing from Bila Tserkva in the Kyiv region of Ukraine, made the decision to leave Ukraine in March 2022, shortly after the invasion began. "We didn't want our children to remain in the danger of war," says Nadiia. Initially unsure of where to go, a friend living in Czechia offered assistance, and together they devised a plan. The journey from Ukraine to Czechia took them three days.
Sent by the Regional Assistance Center in Ústí nad Labem to accommodation in Kadaň, which also serves as a dormitory for apprentices, the sisters faced a significant challenge. The cost of a room amounted to 14,000 CZK (630 USD), a substantial amount given that only one of the sisters had a job at the time
"Saving up in such a situation for a deposit and accessing commercial rentals for these people was entirely impossible because the main priority was to maintain their current housing," says Petr Kučera, a social worker from the Naděje organization for the Kadaň region.
While at the hostel, they came across a flyer from the Naděje (Hope) organization promoting their Housing First project. Connecting with an Naděje’s social worker, they discussed their housing options and preferences. Since the end of November 2023, they have been living in a three-bedroom apartment. The school is a 15-minute walk from their residence. Both sisters now work in Klášterec nad Ohří, grateful that their employer accommodates their shifts so that at least one of them can care for the children. They also attend Czech language courses and believe that with proficiency, they can secure better employment opportunities.
Now, a return to Ukraine is not in their plans. "The future for the children is better here in Czechia," they say. Neila adds. In conclusion, both sisters strongly advocate the belief that offering assistance to others creates a reciprocal cycle of help. "For example, today we go to the school market to buy some children's crafts, and then the money will be spent on helping other people. "We help someone – someone will help us, the circle of help is moving and we like it, and we live in that way," Nadiia concludes.
The story of Nadiia and Neila is one of many within the IOM Czechia project that aim to assist Ukrainian refugees in finding improved housing in Czechia. This project has become a reality thanks to the generous financial backing from the government of Japan.