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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 (March 30, 2022)

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Overview: Since February 24, 2022, well over 4 million 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 with prioritization based on the severity of people’s needs.

This document outlines the approach and guidance recommended to date and provides an overview of the key issues related to the rational, design and implementation of the initial CBI. Adjustments can be expected as the situation evolves, more information becomes available and actors on the ground provide feedback to further strengthen the timeliness, effectiveness and efficiency over the use of MPCAs.

CWG Meeting Notes

Highlights from the CWG Meeting, March 30, 2022

The CWG meetings take place each Wednesday at 15:00 online. The following highlights the issues that were addressed on Wednesday, March 30:

• NRC provided a brief overview of their initial MPCA enrollment, distributions underway, and their use of Conotoxia as their cash transfer mechanism. Over 1400 beneficiaries have been enrolled to date with over 400 distributions having taken place. Preliminary results show that approximately 68% of the funds distributed have been used by beneficiaries stressing early potential evidence of immediate needs.

• A critical issue that has emerged is the need for further collection of evidence on the extent to which errors within the MPCA system take place and mechanisms to correct these errors to ensure that beneficiaries are able to successfully access the assistance provided with as little trouble as possible.

• A very small number of cases were reported that highlighted the loss of the payment card after the loss or entry of the incorrect PIN number over 3 times and the need to take several days to replace cards.

• While the % reporting is to date small, it can be expected that as members of the CWG expand and scale up the cash response, various errors are likely to take place in larger numbers and in different ways and the ability of FSPs to correct should also be included in the mapping and assessment of FSP providers.

• UNHCR has reported that over 5000 people have been enrolled so far in Warsaw and they use the BLIK system via Santander bank. This is a close or proximate transfer mechanism to electronic money.

• Monitoring by PAH of locations for MPCA enrollment indicates that there are changes in the flow of refugees through reception centers and other locations in terms of scale and length of stay; this stresses the need to be mobile and agile to ensure that capacity of staff can make adjustments between locations to ensure as much inclusion as possible.

• This may highlight even more the importance of geographical mapping of organizations so that each can move between various locations within a small area to utilize limited human resource capacity more efficiently through roving enrollment teams, or the use of online registration as that becomes feasible.

• As the workload within this response increase along with the complexity and range of issues related to MPCA, the CWG discussed Focal Points for specific issues. Child Protection focal points and rental market monitoring have been identified.

• The CWG is open to other Focal Points and potential areas for additional thematic coverage include 1. Mapping FSPs and following up on the experience from usage, 2. Needs and Market Assessments.

• The CWG stressed the need to use the shared drive as a platform for maintaining key documents, such as the 5Ws, the participants list (now over 80 members), strategic papers, and potentially those documents other organizations are willing to share, such as their announcements of their MPCA programmes as a sharing of best practices for others to build their own response programmes.

• UNICEF raised the issue of transfers to Ukrainian refugees who hold Ukraine issues bank cards as a modality that could be used rapidly to help people potentially receive funds prior to fleeing, during the process and after arrival.

• Western Union does have the ability currently to transfer funds to holders in Ukraine with Ukrainian bank cards (name on card, card number required, + amount of transfer into UAH form foreign currency). This has worked and has zero fee currently and takes about a day, however, there are limits on the amount that can be transferred without a red flag, and limits on the total amount from a single account holder. This will be further investigated along with remittance systems in Poland.

• UNICEF also drew attention to the fact that not everyone has usable bank cards, including abroad, and that other modalities are needed to reach all those in need.

• Other cautions include checking the FSP contract with banks to ensure, if existing bank cards are used, whether the MPCA amount transferred may be used to pay off existing debts or mortgages rather than providing accessible relief funds (this has happened in Ukraine via Privatbank and was noted in 2015 at the CWG), and also contract that allow for transfers to beneficiaries versus other people in their standardized contracts (Sodexo contained employees as the recipient of the purchasing organization rather than potentially a nonemployee or staff member).

• More mapping needs to be done to identify potential coverage and capacity gaps within the Polish social protection programmes to avoid overlap but also to target those likely to be most in need.

• It was recommended by the CWG to use the concept of nuclear family for MPCA distributions and the number of people per HH (nuclear family), with larger than 4 or 5 members to be enrolled as a separate distribution and elderly members also to apply separately for an MPCA.

• Guidance notes will be provided for the issue of unaccompanied minors and be placed on the CWG shared drive.

• UNICEF shared the experience from Greece that one off pre paid cards, while rapid at first, also meant re-issuing cards for those enrolled when programmes were extended.