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World Refugee Day: Solidarity in Action through the Safe Homes Programme


“Everything starts with accommodation. We heard that all the time from the refugees. Unless they know where they are going to stay, they can't focus on something else.”

This insight from a Slovak social worker involved in the Safe Homes Programme captures what many people working with marginalised populations know to be true: housing is central to integration, dignity, and well-being.

On 20 June, as we reflect on the theme of Solidarity with Refugees this World Refugee Day, we are proud to publish our new Lessons Learned report from the Safe Homes Programme. This project has provided more than just housing to people who fled Ukraine; it has offered a new community-centred perspective on refugee support.

The Safe Homes Programme was funded by the European Commission’s Asylum Migration and Integration Fund. It was implemented between February 2022 and June 2024  by the IFRC and National Red Cross Societies in Belgium, France, Ireland, Hungary, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, with the support of the Red Cross EU Office. Across these countries, private hosts have opened their homes to people displaced from Ukraine as a temporary housing solution.

Vera (on the left) from Kharkiv staying with Veronika in Kosice, Slovakia © Slovak Red Cross.

Yet, the project has not only been about offering short-term housing but also about forming long-term connections and lasting roots in host communities. One guest in Hungary shared, “She [the host] has done a lot for me. For example, I found a job with her help... And somehow, we slowly became a family… And we started taking care of each other.”

Listening to the hosts and guests involved, we hear beautiful stories of bonding, cultural exchange, and making a real difference.

Safe Homes reminds us that solidarity is more than just a vague concept. It has the power to shape policies and change lives. With war, violence, and climate change forcing people to uproot their homes globally, this project is a bright example of standing up for humanity. It shows the value of a community-based and compassion-focused approach and offers a path to making Europe a place where every refugee not only finds safety but also a real sense of belonging.

Staff from the Netherlands Red Cross reflected on the need for collaboration and the power of leaning on each other in times of crisis: “We should practise working together. How are we going to be prepared to work together in the next emergency? How are we going to stay connected? We were surprised by each other’s strengths and how powerful we are together.”

We have drawn 15 key lessons from this past year and a half of Safe Homes. We hope that this experience will inform how we will be supporting refugees in the future, wherever they come from.

We imagine a Europe driven by the dedication and empathy of its people.

We imagine a Europe where solidarity is a daily practice.

We imagine a Europe where everyone, no matter where they come from, can find a home and start dreaming.

This is the vision we are striving towards.

This World Refugee Day, let’s commit to put solidarity at the centre of EU asylum policies.

Vera Kalinichenko and her husband Fedir with the mother of their host (in the middle) in Kosice, Slovakia ©Nora Peter

Read the report for more information and hosting stories.


For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyón on: or +32 2 235 09 22

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