GOAL has opened an office in Lviv and the aid agency’s new Ukraine Response Director, Khatuna Murgulia will lead GOAL operations in country. Khatuna Murgulia commenced her role at the end of April 2022 and prior to joining GOAL, Khatuna (from Georgia who also speaks Ukrainian, Russian, Georgian and English) was Country Director for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Office in Kyiv and prior to that she was with OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). At OSCE, Khatuna worked in a variety of operational and monitoring type roles in OSCE offices in Kyiv, and Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine and in Kharkiv and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.
In tandem with the appointment of GOAL’s new Ukraine Response Director and the office opening, GOAL recently received funding of €500,000 from Irish Aid to provide intervention focused on legal aid and mental health and psychological support services to internally displaced Ukrainians.
GOAL will provide legal aid in partnership with Ukrainian NGO, Right to Protection. This will encompass the provision of group information sessions on legal and protection issues, individual counselling and dissemination of information materials to internally displaced people. Mental health and psychological support services will encompass on-line support and individual sessions and group therapy sessions. GOAL will provide these services in temporary shelters across Ukraine in Kyiv, Cherkasy and Poltava in with possible additional coverage in Chernihiv and Sumy.
Speaking about the scaling up of GOAL operations in Ukraine, GOAL’s Director of External Affairs, Mary Van Lieshout said “OCHA (UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) estimates that there are now eight million internally displaced people in Ukraine. Protection risks, including human trafficking and exploitation, have to now be at the fore of the humanitarian response. Family separation is a key concern and groups at heightened risk include unaccompanied and separated children, young girls, older persons and those with disabilities and with chronic health conditions.”
‘There is an overwhelming need to offer protection to these vulnerable groups, in this volatile and fast becoming an entrenched conflict and crisis in Ukraine. The legal and rights-based advice that GOAL will offer in partnership with Right to Protection, will ensure that internally displaced people are aware of their entitlements, protections and where to access critical services. Access to sexual and reproductive health services, and mental health and psychological support services in such settings is also critical,” continued Mary Van Lieshout.
GOAL brings 45 years of expertise in understanding the nature and impact of humanitarian emergencies and conflict from its work in acute and protracted crises worldwide, to Ukraine. As the Ukrainian conflict becomes more protracted, GOAL’s in-depth knowledge of the complexity and risks involved in working in volatile conflict zones provides a platform to overcome the myriad of challenges that are emerging, such as humanitarian access. GOAL remains one of the leading aid agencies supporting conflict-affected and vulnerable people in Northwest Syria since 2012 and continues to work in fragile contexts such as South Sudan and Haiti.