On 30 November 2022, in Ivano-Frankivsk, the Ambassador of Latvia to Ukraine, Ilgvars Kļava, unveiled a rehabilitation centre for women who have suffered from crimes of sexual violence perpetrated by the Russian army. At the centre, in cooperation with medical care institutions in Ivano-Frankivsk, the women victims will be provided with shelter and physical and mental rehabilitation, which includes social, psychological, legal, and medical assistance.
At the inauguration ceremony, Ilgvars Kļava thanked the Centre MARTA Association and its cooperation partners in Ukraine – a non-governmental organisation Eleos-Ukraine for the implementation of that significant project, which would offer essential assistance to one of the most vulnerable groups of society. The Ambassador underlined that high importance was being attached to the long-term aspects of the assistance project, which also envisaged the application of the methodology devised by Latvian specialists to work with those affected. Special mention must be made of cooperation between Eleos-Ukraine and the regional prosecutor’s office of Ivano-Frankivsk on documenting war crimes.
During the opening, attention was drawn to opportunities for future cooperation and support for further development of the project in order to expand the scope of those receiving assistance. It is planned that, in addition to physical and emotional rehabilitation, the centre will also run professional training programmes to promote women’s employability and financial literacy.
The rehabilitation centre will provide shelter to 20 women and their family members. Its facilities contain living premises and work spaces for a psychologist and a medical professional. The centre has autonomous heating and power supply systems to ensure uninterrupted functioning regardless of power outages in Ukraine caused by Russia’s constant attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. In appreciation of support provided by Latvia, one of the rooms has been named after a Latvian poet and advocate of women’s emancipation and rights, Aspazija.
The Centre MARTA Association, in cooperation with its partners in Ukraine, has opened a hotline for the victims of sexual crime and torture. The hotline offers access to advice and information, as well as to psychological, social, medical, legal, and humanitarian assistance. More than one hundred women targeted by sexual violence have received help during four months.
The project titled “Refuge for women and girls, victims of war crimes” has been carried out with support from the Latvian Foreign Ministry’s funds earmarked for development cooperation policy. Having contributed EUR 58 925.76 towards its implementation, Latvia is one of the largest donors for the project. Additional financing has been provided by organisations from Lithuania, Slovakia, South Korea, and the USA.
During a visit to Kyiv by high-ranking European women leaders on 23 February 2022, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gunda Reire, also underlined that the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality was a priority for Latvia’s development cooperation policy.
Ukraine has always been, and remains a priority partner country to Latvia in its development cooperation. This year, Latvia has been providing assistance with rehabilitation of the victims of the war waged by Russia, as well as in the continuing process of Ukraine’s eurointegration and the reforms launched.