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Poland Cash Working Group Brief - Emergency Relief for Refugees Fleeing Ukraine 2022: A Temporary Rapid Cash Response for those displaced and most in need (24 March 2022 )

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Overview: Since February 24, 2022, well over 3.7 million refugees and people have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries (data). The Cash Working Group in Poland, co-chaired by UNHCR and PAH, was created to facilitate coordination of a rapid Cash-Based Intervention (CBI) providing immediate emergency relief to those displaced based on the severity of their needs.

This document outlines an approach and provides an overview of the key issues related to the rational, design and implementation of the initial CBI. It envisions adjustments as more information becomes available and the situation evolves.

Highlights from CWG Meeting, March 23, 2022

The CWG meetings take place each Wednesday at 15:00 online. The most recent meeting was intended to also include protection issues relevant for implementing MPCA in the Polish context in coordination with the Protection WG. However, due to technical issues with the links, this will be followed up in other CWG meetings along with key insights. The following reflects the meeting’s highlights:

• CWG meetings will be recorded and stored for future reference, especially given the large number of participants and scheduling challenges.

• Preliminary visits to the field revealed some issues related to communicating Cash Based Interventions, namely some hesitancy and resistance by local authorities and other actors to people receiving humanitarian assistance in the form of cash.

• More communications guidance may be needed to stress that MPCA is actually humanitarian relief aiming to provide in this context rapid, temporary, relief for those most in need fleeing Ukraine rather than calling it “cash assistance.” Key Communications for programming will follow FSPs in this Briefing Note.

• Vulnerability and eligibility criteria may cause some confusion for applicants for MPCA; being eligible does not necessarily guarantee selection for MPCA and this message needs to be clarified.

• In Annex 2.1, links are provided to update contacts for participants in the CWG in addition to the 5Ws to facilitate coordination.

• Clarification was added over the transfer value and that depending upon the transfer mechanism, additional fees may be included as a top up to ensure that beneficiaries can use the intended amount to cover their relief needs as far as possible.

• The maximum number of people per HH covered could benefit from further discussion since some are using 4, others 5, but the total amount paid out to beneficiaries based on the monthly transfer value is up to the implementing organization (lump sum for x number of months, recommended up to three, versus monthly payments).

• Unaccompanied children are recognized as an issue in addition to those acting as a guardian, formally or informally, over children in this context; it is recommended to seek the advice of CWG members with relevant expertise to provide specific guidance on this issue, in addition to organizations targeting specific groups within the eligibility criteria for which they have expertise and capacity (5Ws will facilitate this process).

• While there are provisions to meet some immediate needs in reception centers and at border crossings, people remain highly mobile and only receive rapid temporary assistance (typically from 1 to 3 days). Cash is the most appropriate form of temporary relief beyond these immediate services to cover needs beyond those at the border while also recognizing that in kind assistance would be bulky and difficult for people to carry onwards in addition to the typical benefits such as flexibility and dignity of choice.

• Reaching people in these crossing points and adjacent communities as quickly as possible may facilitate and support the logistics of helping people to move beyond temporary shelter and the limited capacity in these zones to house and respond to large numbers of refugees in addition to relieving pressure on limited local capacities and infrastructure.

• Many border crossings have provision for various free sim cards with Polish numbers; it is recommended to potentially enroll applicants for MPCA after they receive a Polish number to facilitate tracking and communications.

• There is a strong need to follow up with the emergency MPCA with assessment tools for markets, needs, and mobility to further strengthen the ability of CWG members to respond timely, efficiently, and effectively to those most in need.