The European Network on Statelessness, of which CF “Right to Protection” is a member, recently published BRIEFING #3: Protection gaps for stateless refugees from Ukraine.
In this briefing, ENS draws attention to some of the main challenges on the protection of stateless persons (SPs):
- In some countries, including France, Portugal, Switzerland, and the UK, it is still unclear whether all those fleeing Ukraine may enter the territory regardless of documentation status.
- No country has extended eligibility to all stateless people and those at risk of statelessness to include those who cannot prove prior legal residence in Ukraine.
- Reports are continuing to emerge of antigypsyism and discrimination in access to the territory, temporary protection, services, and support faced by Romani people fleeing Ukraine including in Poland, Moldova, and the Czech Republic.
- There is very limited data on the nationality status of refugees from Ukraine. There are issues with identification of nationality or statelessness at border crossings and registration points and problems with how nationality data is recorded during birth registration procedures, which creates an additional risk of new cases of statelessness emerging among children whose nationality is not being accurately determined at birth.
To address these issues, ENS provides recommendations for key stakeholders in the briefing, including that EU Member States and other European States should extend temporary forms of protection to all stateless people and those with undetermined nationality who cannot meet current eligibility requirements, due to their statelessness or documentation status, and that the European Commission should revise the Operational Guidelines for implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive to better address the particular protection needs of stateless people.
The team of the CF “Right to Protection” draws attention to the fact that the statelessness determination procedure in Ukraine is young – it has been in operation since May 2021, and not everyone is aware of existence of stateless persons recognised under the procedure. The statelessness determination procedure remains operational even during martial law in Ukraine, and the number of recognised SPs is gradually increasing (according to official data and as stated by UNHCR, as of 30 June 2022, 270 people were recognised as stateless and at least 500 applications are under consideration). Among them are people who fled to Europe as a result of the armed invasion of the Russian Federation after February 24.
STATELESS PERSONS RECOGNISED UNDER THE UKRAINIAN STATELESSNESS DETERMINATION PROCEDURE:
1) have a temporary residence permit and due to their legal status are not considered permanent residents of Ukraine;
2) do not have another document certifying their identity (e.g. passport or identity card), because such a document is not provided for by law;
3) most likely, after recognition as stateless, they did not have time to obtain a travel document for stateless persons;
4) may only obtain statelessness status under the procedure in Ukraine after leaving Ukraine, which must be taken into account by the authorities of the host state, but which in no case should be a reason for canceling statelessness status in Ukraine;
5) do not have a country of origin as such, and were first recognised as stateless in Ukraine and documented in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. More about the peculiarities of documenting SPs from Ukraine in this link;
6) don’t have a legally established procedure to return to Ukraine if they do not possess a stateless person travel document (nor do people with undetermined nationality who fled Ukraine after 24 of February).
According to ENS, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Spain have specified that people recognised as stateless under Ukraine’s statelessness determination procedure are eligible for temporary protection, while in other countries this is still unclear. This practice is a positive example of granting protection to SPs who were forced to leave Ukraine due to the war. CF “Right to Protection” supports ENS’ recommendations to EU member states, European states and the European Commission, and calls on the Government of Ukraine to continue informing the latter about the statelessness determination procedure in Ukraine.