RTBF supports Ukrainian refugees in Belgium

A project implemented by Belgium’s Francophone public media organisation, RTBF, has helped support Ukrainian refugees arriving in the country since the Russian invasion.

20 June 2022

Micha interviews the Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk at RTBF as part of an important working visit to Belgium. Credit: RTBF

RTBF Ukraine – Україна, a radio and digital information service, was launched by RTBF, Belgium’s Fracophone public broadcaster, on 21 March. It primarily targets the 46,000 Ukrainians that have received a ‘temporary protection title’ in Belgium since the start of the war. “We only talk about what can be useful to exiled Ukrainians”, Anne-Françoise Moens, RTBF Journalist, told PMA. This includes practical information and advice, such as how to open a bank account and access to healthcare and accommodation, as well as what life is like in Belgium, and what activities can be accessed for free.

It joins other public service media organisations from Europe which have developed audio offerings to help Ukrainian refugees settle in, such as Radio Prague or Swedish Radio.

100 percent of the news and information published and broadcast by RTBF Ukraine is in Ukrainian. It is done so with the help of 25-year-old Micha, originally from Ukraine, who has offered his time to help his fellow Ukrainians in Belgium by translating the practical information written by Ms. Moens and her colleagues and recording his voice in Ukrainian for the DAB radio station specifically created for the project.

“Micha is our eyes and ears on the Ukrainians of Belgium. When he hears about problems that Ukrainians face or when he sees problems on social networks”, he communicates this with the RTBF team, Ms. Moens explained. “He is our “ambassador” to make RTBF Ukraine known to Ukrainians.

“RTBF Ukraine is a completely public service project in its mission of assistance and information. RTBF puts its knowledge and technique at the service of exiled Ukrainians. RTBF Ukraine is accessible by everyone via the RTBF app or on the website.”

“All the information written since the beginning remains available on the web and on the radio continuously. Every article posted on the website is posted directly on Telegram” a popular social network in Ukraine. Podcasts have also been made available on-demand.

As of 30 May, the RTBF team has recorded 53,000 page views on the website. Data for radio, however, has not yet been calculated for radio or Telegram.

According to Ms. Moens, the project was originally meant to cease at the end of June but has been extended until the end of September. “At the moment the most important thing for Ukrainians in Belgium is to regain their autonomy, to leave their host family. So we have to do a kind of lobbying with the authorities to create reception accommodation.” The RTBF Ukraine team also want to grow the project by trying to help Ukrainians meet each other so that they are less isolated.

RTBF Ukraine – Україна live radio and on-demand news and information. Credit: RTBF

RTBF Ukraine is a proactive public service project that reflects core public service values: providing a sense of community, representation, and being a source of trusted and accessible news and information, including for minority groups. It is innovative in its use of all the tools at their disposal – digital, radio, social – to provide critical information for refugees. It complements the work implemented by authorities as well as RTBF’s other actions to make their new neighbours feel welcomed and supported.

“RTBF Ukraine is a completely public service project in its mission of assistance and information. RTBF puts its knowledge and technique at the service of exiled Ukrainians.”  – Anne-Françoise Moens, Journalist, RTBF

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