As the humanitarian crisis created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to unfold, it’s expected that up to 200,000 refugees from Ukraine will be received into Belgium.
To help welcome people from Ukraine, public broadcaster RTBF has launched a dedicated radio station and online service – RTBF Ukraine – Україна.
The objective of RTBF Ukraine is to help refugees from Ukraine feel connected with life in Belgium, and also to help create links within the refugee community as into the wider population within Belgium.
Broadcasting 24/7, the content of RTBF Ukraine is designed to be practical and informative and is distributed across three primary channels – radio, online, and through a Telegram account.
“It will be a radio station that will be 100 percent in the Ukrainian language…” explains Mehdi Khelfat, an editorial manager at RTBF. “The idea is really to bring information services to Ukrainian people who have a lot of difficulty obtaining information.”
“The military situation in Ukraine will not be covered on this radio station at all…” adds Khelfat. “But we are going to talk about what’s happening in Belgium.”
The website of RTBF Ukraine will publish articles in Ukrainian, as well as providing French language lessons.
Telegram is one of the most popular social media platforms in Ukraine, which is why a Telegram account will be used as part of the distribution of RTBF Ukraine content.
The team behind RTBF Ukraine – Україна
One of the key people involved in RTBF Ukraine is 25-year-old Micha.
Micha was on vacation in Spain at the time of the invasion by Russia. Unable to return to Ukraine, Micha came to Brussels – it was a city he knew well, having lived here for a year in 2016.
“When I came to Brussels, I spoke with many Ukrainians and they asked me a lot of things…” explains Micha. “I understood that there was a need to explain how to find information.”
Micha relays the practical information loop in Ukrainian on RTBF Ukraine – Україна. Also working on the content created for RTBF Ukraine are journalists Charlotte Legrand and Anne-Françoise Moens.
“As a public media, it is in our DNA to be a link between everyone…” explains Jean-Paul Philippot, RTBF General Administrator. “It quickly became essential to us to create a space where useful information would be available in Ukrainian. Audio and digital are extraordinary tools for this – we can continue to build the capability over time. More than ever, the world is asking us to be agile in carrying out our missions.”
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