Right to Protection is an NGO dedicatedto protecting the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, stateless andundocumented persons, as well as internally displaced and conflict affected persons.
According to official accounts, prior to full-scale invasion some 5,000 refugees and asylum seekers were living in Ukraine. Having already fled other conflicts or persecution, they lack documents or even a nationality, do not have a safe home country to return.
While Europe has provided an unprecedented level of support and rights to Ukrainian nationals, previously displaced asylum seekers and refugees have faced significant barriers to protection. To better understand the protection risks faced by those who were forced to flee to the European Union (EU), we examined the scope and limitations of the policies enacted by the EU and its Member States to protect those fleeing the war in Ukraine. Additionally, HIAS and Right to Protection (R2P) conducted a survey of 300 non-Ukrainian asylum seekers and refugees – many of whom we had previously been providing legal aid in Ukraine.
Based on this research R2P and HIAS have developed recommendations for the governments of EU member states to help improve the situation of this vulnerable group.
International standards for the protection of civilians, its adaptation to Ukrainian realities and the peculiarities of the Ukrainian protection standard were discussed at the educational training for officials, civil servants, employees of the State Emergency Service and social services in Khmelnytskyi by our professional trainers and consultants Maryna Turenok and Yulia Kostyuchenko.
“These are specialized modules for representatives of the authorities and services that respond to emergencies. During these two days, we built a clear plan of action and response to emergencies: with whom they should communicate, whom to involve in such cases, how to organize the process. All hromadas, without exception, at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, faced problems when they did not know whom to involve in resolving the situation. There should be joint activities of different services in solving such issues,” said Yulia Kostiuchenko, civil protection consultant at the Right to Protection CF, trainer and volunteer with 9 years of experience.
Yulia also shared real cases when it was necessary to provide assistance to affected civilians. At the training, the case of rescuing a girl from Mariupol who lost all her relatives was worked out in detail. The military and volunteers managed to take her from the occupied territory to a safe hromada.
💬”We have analyzed in detail how we can help this child, who to involve, what help to provide in the first place. In such cases, it is really necessary to involve medical specialists who conduct examinations, psychologists, police, because it is necessary to find the next of kin who could establish guardianship. These are difficult but real stories of people who need help from the community,” said Yulia.
The trainings were held within the framework of the project “Preparedness and Stabilization in Central and Western Ukraine” implemented by the Right to Protection CF together with the NGO ACTED Ukraine and the IMPACT initiative and funded by the UK from the British people.
To update knowledge on civil protection and organization of evacuation activities, in especially in social institutions for persons with disabilities and the elderly – this was the goal of educational trainings from experts of the Right to Protection, which took place this week with representatives of the authorities in Vinnytsia, in particular the Regional and District Departments of Social Protection, the Service for Children at the regional and district levels, the State Emergency Service and the Center for Social Services.
The participants of the training received practical recommendations on organizational and legal support of civilians during crisis situations and improvement of emergency response capabilities of the authorities.
“We set ourselves the task of familiarizing the participants of the training in detail with the basic principles and standards of international humanitarian law, the work of international organizations and cluster systems that provide assistance to civilians during emergencies and armed conflicts, including those operating in Ukraine. And also to talk about humanitarian standards for the protection of children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities, for their implementation during an emergency or humanitarian crisis or armed conflict”, – says Yulia Kostyuchenko, project trainer of the Found.
The project “Preparedness and Stabilization in Central and Western Ukraine” is implemented by the Right to Protection CF together with the NGO ACTED Ukraine and the IMPACT initiative and is funded by the UK from the British people.
Last week turned out to be busy for our organization for international work meetings. Yes, our advocacy coordinator Tetiana Luzan visited Washington. There, she took part in a gathering of employees on issues of international policy, advocacy, communications, and the involvement of the Jewish community, organized by the foundation’s long-standing partners, which started the existence of the BF “Right to Protection” in Ukraine – HIAS.
Tetyana Luzan met with representatives of civil society in the USA, and also talked with representatives of congressmen’s offices specializing in issues related to Ukraine. She talked about the work of the fund in the conditions of a full-scale invasion, the directions of our activities and the main problems that our colleagues are working on solving within the framework of the projects implemented by the fund.
I drew attention to the issue of housing for immigrants. Thus, in September, the government of Ukraine approved a special simplified procedure for providing housing for temporary use to displaced persons and persons whose housing was destroyed using the funds of humanitarian and other aid.
“Ukrainian legislation provides for the possibility of providing IDPs with temporary housing for a period of up to one year, with the possibility of further extension. Such housing is provided at the expense of special housing funds created for these purposes by local self-government bodies. However, in the absence of such premises, as well as financial resources for their construction, reconstruction or acquisition, which may be necessary for the formation of such funds, local authorities may not be able to provide IDPs with temporary housing. As an option, it can be financed by international donors”, – noted Tetiana Luzan.
The meetings also discussed the issue of providing psychological assistance to Ukrainians and the need for psychosocial support. Currently, such support is often provided by humanitarian organizations, where there are experts who specialize in psychological trauma caused, for example, by military conflicts. However, their number is not sufficient to provide assistance to all who need it.
We are glad that we were able to talk about the problems of Ukrainians at such a high level. We are sure, that this will speed up the resolution of certain issues and help us to help people even more!
Thank you to HIAS for the invitation and high evaluation of our work.
We are pleased to announce that the Charitable Foundation “Right to Protection” has joined the UKRAINE RESPONSE CONSORTIUM under the leadership of BHA and the international charity organization ACTED.
Formed at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the ACTED-led Consortium, working together with its partners – IMPACT Initiatives, World Vision, CARE and Right to Protection, is designed to meet the critical and urgent needs of the conflict-affected population in Ukraine. Together, the Consortium partners can develop multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance throughout Ukraine.
As part of the Consortium, our Foundation will implement the project “Addressing the immediate multi-sectoral humanitarian needs of IDPs and conflict-affected populations inside Ukraine”: our activities are based on the successful experience of the specialists of our mobile groups, who have already provided psychosocial support to more than 550 unique beneficiaries.
In the new project, we will expand our approach of providing assistance by mobile teams: their number will increase from 2 to 6, and the composition of their teams will also expand: from now on, not only professional psychologists and social workers, but also lawyers will be sent to the most vulnerable hromadas of
Together with psychosocial and legal support teams, cash-assistance mobile centers will also work: special emphasis will be placed on helping such vulnerable groups of the population as pregnant women, single mothers, mothers raising children under 3 years old, families raising children with disabilities, the elderly, women raising three or more minor children, and IDPs who cannot obtain a registration card to confirm their status.
Such centers will be functioning in Dnipro, Kyiv, Sumy and Khmelnytskyi oblasts.
Our activities aimed at helping those affected by the war will be:
Psychosocial support (to help vulnerable sections of the population outlive what happened, restore and accumulate vitality, maintain health and consider life prospects, which is extremely important now)
Advocacy (to ensure that IDPs and war-affected persons in difficult legal situations have their human rights respected despite conflict-induced displacement and pressure)
Information (in order to raise the awareness of IDPs and those who return to Ukraine on the issues of observing their rights and protection, highlighting the most important and relevant issues)
Multipurpose cash assistance (to meet the needs of more than 8,000 beneficiaries who belong to vulnerable population groups).
We are already actively working on the implementation of activities: in particular, on October 12, the cash team has already started the process of registering beneficiaries in Kyiv and Khmelnytskyi oblasts, and on October 17 – in Sumy oblast and the city of Kryvyi Rih. The number of people registered at this time is already about 500 people.
Therefore, this powerful project will be implemented until the middle of June 2023, so we share the contacts of the “Rights to Protection” offices through which you can apply for support:
Chernivtsi, 6/1 Lazareva str. (Mon-Fri 9:00 to 18:00). Phone: +380931910120
multi-purpose financial aid:
Kyiv, Kyiv region, only mobile brigades will work and will carry out registration in communities. You can track the schedule of mobile registration points in the TG channel https://t.me/groshova_dopomogaKyiv
Kryvyi Rih, 1 Khabarovska st. (Mon-Fri 9:00 to 18:00), as well as a mobile brigade, the schedule of which can be tracked in the Telegram channel https://t.me/dopomogavpokr
Sumy, only mobile brigades will work and register in communities. You can track the schedule of mobile registration points in the TG channel https://t.me/sumy_dopomogavpo
Khmelnytskyi, 28 Heroiv Maidanu St. (Mon-Fri 9:00 to 18:00), as well as a mobile brigade, the schedule of which can be tracked in the Telegram channel https://t.me/dopomogakm
Ukraine belongs to the countries of Europe with the lowest supply of water resources per capita. Military actions on the territory of our state and their consequences will only worsen the situation in the future. What risks await us and what needs to be done so that access to drinking water does not turn into a luxury for us – experts on water resources protection shared their vision of the problem during the webinar for journalists.
This webinar is the first stage of the grant program for media representatives. We implement it together with our partners – with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the assistance of ACTED. Journalists who would like to participate in covering the problem of pollution/limited access to water resources in Ukraine as a result of the war and propose their own concept of a thematic media project will be able to participate in the grant competition and, in case of victory, receive funding for its implementation.
And with you we will be glad to share information on this topic from our experts in the near future, because this problem will affect the lives of each of us and will be echoing for many years to come.
Recently, there were meetings of specialists of mobile psychosocial support groups of the CF “Right to Protection” with representatives of the Zhovtovodsk and Novomoskovsk communities.
Our colleagues from mobile groups take care that Ukrainian cities are sufficiently equipped with mental health and psychosocial support for IDPs and other vulnerable groups. All in order for the population is better protected from the psychological harm caused by war, in the future. In particular, our colleagues are called upon to provide assistance and training to local stakeholders in host communities on psychosocial support in crisis situations.
Meetings were held with a considerable number of participants. On the part of the Novomoskovsk community, the heads of the Department of Labor and Social Protection of the Population, the Territorial Center for Social Services, as well as representatives of the city authorities, and on the part of the Zhovtovodskaya – employees:
department of family support and coordination of social services provision of the Department of Labor and Social Protection of the Population;
department of education, department of youth and sports of Zhovti Vody city council;
Center of social services provision of the Zhovti Vody city council;
Zhovti Vody Lyceum;
NGO “New Life of Zhovti Vody”.
“We discussed ways of cooperation between community bodies and the Right to Protection Foundation within the framework of the project, as well as the educational needs of specialists in communities. Among them, in particular, such urgent requests as the so-called “professional burnout” of specialists caused by an increase in their workload, work with people in a state of severe stress, peculiarities of work with IDPs adults and children, help in adapting to life in a new place, etc. These meetings were necessary to reach an agreement on conducting psychosocial support trainings for representatives of the above-mentioned institutions”, – explains Oleksii Istomin, the project’s mobile groups coordinator.
It will be recalled that mobile psychosocial support groups at “Right to Protection” Charitable Foundation are teams of specialists who provide specialized assistance to war victims. Professional psychologists and social workers under the leadership of their coordinators have been actively working since May of this year: together they have already made more than three hundred trips to Dnipropetrovsk and Chernivtsi regions, providing help to those who need it, and do not stop at that point.
Mobile groups operate within the “Right to Protection” Charitable Foundation project “Increasing resilience and capacity to overcome difficulties by the most vulnerable households affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine” in partnership with ACTED Ukraine.
Even in times of war, Ukraine remains a host country for refugees – foreigners who, even before 24 February, fled hostilities, wars and political or religious persecution here. Citizens of Syria, Afghanistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Iran and other countries around the world have sought (and continue to seek) protection in Ukraine.
Agzam* was one of those whom fate made a fugitive. And his entire family – his wife and four children – as well. In his home country of Kazakhstan, Aghzam was an active member of a religious Islamic organisation persecuted by the country’s authorities. The man was prosecuted in Kazakhstan for his religious beliefs: he was considered a criminal there only on the basis of his peaceful religious views.
“Before the official verdict was handed down, I managed to leave the country and take my family with me. We ended up in Ukraine, where we asked for international protection,” he recalls.
Agzam is now 45 years old. Due to his health problems, with his first disability group, he needs constant monitoring by specialists and treatment.
Friends from his religious organisation, who were also seeking protection in Ukraine, suggested that the man could turn to the Right to Protection for help – as a human rights organisation that has been supporting refugees from all over the world for many years.
“The man approached us in 2020, and since then we have accompanied his migration case. In two years, he has twice been refused recognition as a refugee or as a person in need of complementary protection by the State Migration Service. We went to court twice, proving that his family could not return to his homeland because he was facing imprisonment there because of religious persecution. We gathered the necessary package of documents with evidence and information about the country of origin and details of the criminal case against Agzam in Kazakhstan. Eventually, in the summer of 2022, the Lviv District Administrative Court ordered the State Migration Service to recognise Aghzam as a refugee or a person in need of complementary protection in Ukraine,” said Anton Maksymov, lawyer with the Right to Protection Foundation.
After years of wandering and a long trial, Agzam and his family least expected such a decision during the martial law in Ukraine, which has already become a second home, so the news was a real blessing for them.
According to Agzam, he sees his future in Ukraine, his eldest son is doing his best to integrate. And Agzam himself is waiting to be able to benefit from the right to medical services and disability payments, which he hopes will be available once the State Migration Service makes its decision.The family hopes for the best and believes that Ukraine will win this war.
“It is very important that the judiciary in Ukraine, despite the war, continues to work because people like Agzam still need protection. For many of them, international protection in Ukraine is the only way to live a full life. This is not the first war for them, and they are seeking safety in Ukraine as a European country where human rights and international law are respected. In Agzam’s case the situation is aggravated by health problems and his inability to enjoy his rights and provide for himself,” adds Anton Maksymov.
We wish Agzam and his family health and strength, and will continue to help in all legal matters.
Intercountry adoption should not occur during or immediately after an emergency.2 In line with the Ukrainian Government’s suspension of intercountry adoption,3 we urge receiving States, international bodies, and humanitarian agencies to adopt a harmonised approach and call for a moratorium on intercountry adoptions from Ukraine1.
During emergencies, such as conflict, it is a well-accepted principle of States’ obligations under international law that adoption is not an appropriate response for unaccompanied and separated children. Children separated from their parents during a humanitarian emergency cannot be assumed to be orphans. Until the fate of a child’s parents or other close relatives can be verified, each separated child should be considered as still having living relatives or legal guardians and, therefore, is not in need of adoption. Every effort should be made to reunify children with their families when possible, if such reunification is in their best interest.4 This includes children who were living in residential care facilities when the crisis escalated, many of whom are children with disabilities. This is echoed in UNHCR’s Policy on the Adoption of Refugee Children.5
Intercountry adoption should only be considered once all family tracing and reunification efforts have been exhausted and stable in-country solutions, including kinship care, foster care, and national adoptions have been considered in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.6 In an emergency, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to ensure that international standards and safeguards are respected in accordance with the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoptions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Even though Ukraine is not a Party to the 1993 Adoption Convention, all receiving States should apply its standards and safeguards when cooperating with Ukraine.
According to International Social Service (ISS) worldwide statistics, provided by States to the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), Ukraine facilitated the second highest number of intercountry adoptions in 2020.7 In times of peace, a child should only be considered for intercountry adoption based on the best interests of the child, with full respect for the rights of the child. This includes establishing that the child is adoptable,8 the child has been consulted and well-informed in line with his/her evolving capacity, all suitable placement options in the country have been considered
and exhausted in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the prospective adoptive parent(s) is (are) eligible to adopt the child in question, there is consent by those legally acting on the child’s behalf, including that the consent of the mother is given only after the birth of the child, and information about the child and their parents’ identity is preserved. Such considerations may be particularly challenging for States like Ukraine that are not parties to the 1993 Adoption Convention.
Conflict is a breeding ground for illicit practices, in part because of the breakdown of oversight. Separated and unaccompanied children are extremely vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation; including illicit practices in adoption. The ongoing crisis makes it impossible to ensure that commercial or criminal gain, fraud, child trafficking, and the deception of birth parents do not play any part in the adoption process. The UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children state that children in emergency situations should not be moved to a country other than their habitual residence for alternative care except for compelling health, medical or safety reasons. When a child must be moved, they should stay as close as possible to their home, be accompanied by a parent or caregiver, and have a clear plan of return.9 10
In the aftermath of children’s displacement to neighbouring countries, adequate identification and registration measures must be in place and appropriate alternative care arrangements provided in line with the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.11 The conflict should not be used as a justification for expediting intercountry adoptions, or for circumventing or disregarding the internationally accepted framework. This applies equally to adoption procedures that were already under way prior to the conflict.
This statement remains open for endorsement until the end of June 2022. As new endorsements come in, the statement will be updated once a week. New endorsements should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the name of the organization and a high-resolution logo.
6 The principle of subsidiarity according to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is that “States Party to the Convention recognise that a child should be raised by his or her birth family or extended family whenever possible. If that is not possible or practicable, other forms of permanent family care in the country of origin should be considered. Only after due consideration has been given to national solutions should intercountry adoption be considered”. The Implementation and Operation of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention: Guide to Good Practice (Bristol, U.K.: Family Law, 2008), p. 29, Hague Conference on Private International Law, assets.hcch.net/docs/bb168262-1696-4e7f-acf3-fbbd85504af6.pdf
7 The latest available data reports 277 intercountry adoptions facilitated by Ukraine in 2020. International Social Service (December 2021) Monthly Review No. 257
8 Establishing whether a child is adoptable, or eligible for adoption, States must go through the legal process of determining if a child has a birth family that is willing or able to care for him/her. This includes supporting the birth family to care for the child, family tracing and reunification if children are separated from their caregivers and verifying who has legal guardianship of the child.