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16.04.21

Today R2P presents the report ‘Crossing the contact line’ for March 2021, prepared by the NGO ‘Right to Protection’. The report is based on data collected during the monitoring of the situation on EECPs. More statistical data is available on the Eastern Ukraine Checkpoint Monitoring Online Dashboard: https://www.unhcr.org/ua/en/eecp-monitoring-2021

HIGHLIGHTS:    

  • This month, crossing the contact line remained possible only through two EECPs: Novotroitske in Donetska Oblast and Stanytsia Luhanska in Luhanska Oblast, at a level considerably below the pre-COVID period. The number of people crossing the contact line increased in March compared to February by 37%: 52,823 and 33,000 respectively.
  • On 18 March, Stanytsia Luhanska EECP was finally provided with free rapid antigen tests, and a state laboratory point was deployed. The large flow of people exceeded the available capacities, which resulted in long queues. Therefore, many people preferred to take a paid PCR test from either of five different trailers of private laboratories.
  • There were no places in the observation facility in Luhansk Oblast still. In March, in Donetska Oblast, 40 people were sent to the observation facility, all of them either had an inappropriate phone model or no phone at all. Also, 771 persons who crossed to GCA at Novotroiske EECP (81 percent) took the rapid antigen test, and 754 persons at Stanytsia Luhanska (one percent).
  • In line with R2P advocacy, on 22 March, amendments were made to Resolution #1236 on quarantine COVID-19 measures that greatly facilitated the crossing procedure for foreigners. Therefore, foreigners who have permanent residence in Ukraine do not need to have insurance when crossing the contact line to GCA.
  • During March, 3,657 vulnerable elderly persons were provided with transport support at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP by the NGO “Proliska” e-vehicle.

The report is available in English and in Ukrainian

The report is based on the results of a survey conducted by R2P at the five EECPs to enter the NGCA and administered on a regular basis since June 2017. The survey is a part of the monitoring of violations of rights of conflict-affected populations within the framework of the project ‘Advocacy, Protection, and Legal Assistance to IDPs’ implemented by R2P, with the support of UNHCR. The purpose of the survey is to explore the reasons and concerns of those traveling from the NGCA to the GCA, as well as conditions and risks associated with crossing the line of contact through EECPs. The information collected in the survey helps identify protection needs, gaps, and trends, and provides an evidentiary basis for advocacy efforts.

12.04.21

We bring to your attention the summary of the Alternative Interim Report within the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) “State of Observance of the Rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Stateless Persons in Ukraine“, prepared by a coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) concerned with the rights of the above-mentioned categories of persons: Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P)Charitable Foundation “Rokada”, NGO “The Tenth of April” (“Desyate Kvitnya”) and The International Fund for Public Health and Environment “Carpathian Region” NEEKA

The report outlines the main systemic problems that lead to regular violations of the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons, as well as provides specific proposals to the Government on ways to address these problems.  

Such problems include the de facto impossibility of temporary employment for asylum seekers and the absence or limited access of asylum seekers and their children to free health services.

For example, the CF “Right to Protection” provided legal assistance to the families of Afghan citizens who were forced to flee the country to escape the war and as a result, found protection in Ukraine. There is a minor child in the family who needs medical care, but it is not possible to sign a declaration with the family doctor because parents must provide a valid identity document (the application for protection is not recognized as an identity document).

Seeing a certificate for the protection, one by one the employers closed the doors to him because Ukrainian law requires them to obtain a work permit and to pay him an official salary of at least 10 minimum Ukrainian wages. As a result, he entered the market unofficially. Such work rarely goes unnoticed: in a few months, one receives a fine for informal employment.

To address these issues, the NGO coalition recommends amending a number of laws, providing for the right of applicants to work without a special employment permit for foreigners, and for the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to develop and submit to the Verkhovna Rada a bill on the provision of medical services to children whose parents do not have identity documents.

The State has made some significant achievements in this direction over the past year, such as the creation of a legislative foundation for the introduction and operation of the procedure for recognition as a stateless person.  However, some of the issues identified in the report have not been addressed for many years and have been in the focus of past UPR reviews.

Among such problems is the unjustified detention of stateless persons for further identification and expulsion. For example, CF “Right to Protection” recently reported that a stateless person is threatened with detention. In this context, NGOs again recommend that detention be provided only as a last resort, when necessary and proportionate after all alternatives (starting with the least restrictive ones) have been exhausted.

The problem of the impossibility of identification related to imperfect legal regulation has become systemic: when checking citizenship, obtaining a passport of a citizen of Ukraine, obtaining a passport for the first time, establishing a person in court, etc. The second part of the report provides a list of legislative gaps and problems of law enforcement.

For example, a woman of the retirement age with a disability to whom the CF “Right to Protection” provided legal assistance is not able to work due to her health condition. Due to the lack of documents, the disability is not registered, she does not receive pensions or other payments, medical care is not available to her, she has no housing, and no relatives. The woman lives in an abandoned house without gas, electricity, water. Twice a week she goes to receive free food, packs it in a liter jar, and stretches it for a week.

From April 15, food will stop being distributed and so this woman will be left without any means for existence at all. Without the documents, she cannot receive any other assistance or payments from the state or volunteers. All of this is the consequence of the impossibility to identify her and provide the woman with a passport of a citizen of Ukraine. As it has been stated before, due to the lack of identity documents, the rights of such persons are repeatedly violated. 

In this regard, the coalition of NGOs – the authors of this report, recommend legislatively improve the rules of the procedure for establishing an identity of a person, including the procedure for issuing a passport of a citizen of Ukraine.

The alternative report itself is posted on the website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and presented on December 15, 2020, during the public discussion of the draft state interim report on the status of implementation of recommendations received from the 3rd cycle of the UPR. 

What is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)? Whose recommendations should the Government follow?

The UPR assesses the implementation of the human rights obligations by the States under the following instruments: 

(1) the Charter of the United Nations; 

(2) Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

(3) human rights instruments to which the State is a party (human rights treaties ratified by the State); 

(4) voluntary statements and commitments of States (including national human rights policies and/or implemented programs);  and, 

(5) international human rights instruments. The UPR is a mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, which conducts regular reviews of the implementation of human rights commitments and responsibilities by 193 UN member states four times a year. The review is conducted by the UPR Working Group, which consists of 47 members of the Human Rights Council.

This review takes place through a three-hour interactive dialogue between the State concerned, the member countries of the Council, and the observer countries. During this discussion, any UN Member State may ask questions, express its conclusions, and/or make recommendations to the State concerned.

The last review of Ukraine’s compliance with its commitments took place in 2017, as a result of which various countries around the world provided 201 recommendations to the Government of Ukraine on overcoming certain challenges in the field of human rights. The government supported 171 of these recommendations, in other words, recognized the need to implement them. The other 30 were left without official support from Ukraine, but this does not mean that they will be ignored. 

For example, in 2012, Ukraine was recommended to ratify the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which the Government of Ukraine simply complied with without official support. In 2013 these documents were ratified.

Thus, the Government should report in 2023 (the next review of the state of human rights in Ukraine in the framework of the UPR) if it has implemented all the recommendations received in 2017 from the other states. A positive initiative was the interim reporting of Ukraine in 2020 on the progress already made, especially since such reporting is not mandatory. This report in particular did not overlook some issues regarding the rights of these categories in the Annex to the report.

Our report assesses the implementation of some of these recommendations, as well as an assessment of the observance of the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons in the country as a whole. We hope that, through and independently of the UPR mechanism, the situation of these vulnerable categories will be improved by addressing current and outdated challenges.


The infographics for this review are available in Ukrainian and English.

Also read:

30.08.20

Repeatedly beaten by separatists in temporarily occupied Donetsk, Hennadii refused to join the war, so they burnt his identity documents; he spent years at-risk of statelessness, and he nearly died several times. 

Hennadii Orlov now lives in Sloviansk; he recently got his Ukrainian passport. For three years leading up to this point, he was on the verge of statelessness — he had nothing to prove who he was, or even the simple fact that he was a citizen of Ukraine. The journey to get to this point — to be recognized as a citizen of Ukraine, living in Ukraine — nearly killed him. Right to Protection (R2P), a legal advocacy non-profit in Ukraine, recently helped Mr. Orlov prove his identity and re-obtain his documents and his legal status as a Ukrainian citizen. 

Hennadii is turning 40 this year. He was born in Horlivka — 90 minutes by car northeast of Donetsk City, and an area currently under occupation by the Russian backed authorities of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic.’ Horlivka, much like most of Donetsk Oblast, is a region in decline—formerly a heart of industry and mining, and now a conflict zone pockmarked by abandoned factories that once provided steady jobs and shuttered mines that once made Donetsk the wealthiest province in the country. But Hennadii never reaped much advantage from the past industriousness of his home because his family was poor, and his parents passed away when he was young, and he has dystrophy in his right hand which makes it hard for him to perform the physical tasks required in the factories and the mines. He always struggled to find steady work, and this persistent challenge eventually led to some bad choices and a jail sentence in Luhansk. 

After serving his time, Hennadii returned home just in time to witness the pro-Russian separatists seize Horlivka’s municipal buildings at the beginning of their occupation. Then, in July of 2014, he witnessed the Battle of Horlivka in which the Ukrainian government attempted to retake the city. The battle lasted over a month and reportedly killed hundreds of civilians and devastated the city, but it made little impact on the demarcation lines. The Ukrainian government and the city’s de facto authorities signed a ceasefire on September 5th of that year, and the separatists maintained control of Horlivka. 

The Battle of Horlivka strained the capacities of the separatists, and as the war dragged on and on, it became critical for them to begin recruiting local civilians into their ranks. In the following years, Hennadii was regularly threatened and robbed by the local militias, and several times he was beaten within an inch of his life. Time and again, however, Hennadii refused to join the fighting. One night in December, 2017, the militia once again broke into his house to threaten and rob him, but this time they also burned his passport. 

After that, Hennadii’s wife and children fled to government-controlled areas where they moved in with her brother in Svyatohirsk. Hennadii couldn’t accompany them because he didn’t have the documents required to cross through the checkpoints. Instead, he says, he crossed illegally — traversing a minefield where he almost set-off a landmine. 

After getting into government-controlled areas, Hennadii travelled to Sloviansk, where he moved in with a friend. His difficulties were far from over, however, because he couldn’t get a job or receive any government assistance because he technically didn’t exist: “I didn’t have anything!” He recalls. “I only had an address in [non-government controlled Donetsk]. They were looking at me like I was a stupid person!” 

After having been on his own for years — with no work, no government assistance, and living apart from his family — Hennadii was despaired by the time he heard about Right to Protection’s legal services. He heard about them through a friend, and he immediately reached out to a local R2P office by phone. Protection Attorney Nataliia Ishchenko took him on as a client, and by the summer of 2019 they were able to obtain Hennadii’s birth certificate. Then, in April of 2020, he got his Ukrainian passport. 

Things still aren’t easy for Hennadi. His wife is working at a kindergarten in Svyatohirsk, but he can’t find work there, so he’s still in Sloviansk. He now has the documents he needs to obtain legal employment, but coronavirus added a layer of complication — very few companies are hiring, and he faces the uphill battle of getting a job after such a long employment gap. However, he remains hopeful, because his situation has improved: “I don’t know how I survived the past 3 years… If not for my friend, who helped me with housing, food and some small side-jobs, I would have probably died from hunger or have gone back to prison.” He’s still worried about providing for his family, but at least, he says, he has his documents. Now he’ll be legally allowed to marry his wife, and — when the opportunity arrives — he’ll be allowed to accept legal employment… At least he now legally exists. 

27.03.20

Submitting Application to Regional Department of State Migration Service (SMS) on obtaining refugee status or a person in need of complementary protection (choose your language to read below).

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Somali

04.03.20

Ukraine is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and participates with the corresponding state procedure for granting refugee status.

What should I bring with me before arriving in Ukraine?

Collect your most important personal things and the following documents:

  • passport document;
  • driver’s license;
  • birth certificates.

These documents will facilitate your identification process in Ukraine.

What is important?

Take with you as much evidence as possible which confirms persecution against you and your reasons for being unable to return to your country of origin. These may be documents, audio and video recordings, etc. These things will significantly increase your chances of obtaining refugee status or complementary protection in Ukraine.

“If you have any questions regarding the procedure for granting refugee status, please contact our Charitable Fund. Our lawyers will advise you on the details of the procedure and will accompany you throughout the procedure of obtaining protection in Ukraine.” — Oleksandra Zhurko, lawyer at Right to Protection, CF.