Ukrainian children
It is not clear yet how many children will be coming/ when/ where or for how long.

Ukrainian children to come to Portugal for ‘holidays away from conflict’

New programme to start this year

Ukrainian children living in their invaded country are to get a break from the ‘stress and horror’ of war with holidays in Portugal.

The plan has been devised by the two women in charge of their government’s social policies: Ana Mendes Godinha, Portugal’s minister for Labour, Solidarity and Social Security and Marina Lazebna, Ukraine’s minister for Social Policy.

The pair met in New York this week, ostensibly to review Portugal’s programme of integration and reception of Ukrainian refugees on the sidelines of a UN event connected to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

But Ms Lazebna clearly felt something needed to be done for the children who have stayed behind: the ones whose lives in many cases have been put on hold in the worst possible way. And Ana Mendes Godinho was ready.

The intention is to create an alternative space, even from the point of view of mental health, so that the children have other spaces to enjoy during their vacations”, she told journalists today. “The goal is for us to try to realise this program in 2023. That is what we committed to, because it is a need that Ukraine has. As a safe country, Portugal is seen as a good option to organize the programme, so we will prepare everything to meet this need, ensuring that Portugal is once again a place of welcome”.

Dominant theme of meeting

The dominant theme of the meeting between the two ministers was the balance of the programme of integration and reception of Ukrainians in Portugal – the message coming out being that Ukraine does not want to lose contact with its nationals here. To this end, Ms Mendes Godinha pledged Portugal’s “full availability to create channels of encounter”.

Portugal is an “exemplary country

Ana Mendes Godinho believes Portugal has shown itself to be “an exemplary country from the point of view of how it has integrated Ukrainian workers“, namely “with the attribution of the automatic Social Security numbers within the protection regime”.

“Therefore, we are also an example of a country that was able to quickly protect people in the labour market,” she said.

The minister is in New York to participate in the 61st session of the Commission for Social Development of the United Nations (UN) Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in a meeting focused on the themes of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, post-pandemic challenges, decent work, combating inequalities, and dialogue between generations.

In her speech at the UN on Tuesday, Ana Mendes Godinho defended the need for social investment, commitments and adaptable responses to face the world’s current economic and social challenges.