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23.04.21

We are glad to present 2020 Annual Report ‘Crossing the contact line’. The report is based on data collected by NGO ‘Right to Protection’ 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-2020.

HIGHLIGHTS:   

✅ On March 12, The Ukrainian Government adopted a number of measures aimed at COVID-19 prevention. Starting 22 March, EECP operation was suspended in the GCA, while the same happened at the NGCA a day before. Rapid developments put many people who were coming to EECPs into a difficult position; some even did not have enough means for temporary accommodation. In particular, forty people travelling to the NGCA got stuck at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP.

✅ Introduction of quarantine measures caused a drastic decrease in the number of crossings. Thousands of people were deprived of the possibility to receive social payments, pensions, birth and death certificates, to visit relatives or property. Some were cut off from their permanent place of residence.

✅ In July, 83 persons were compelled to remain in the buffer zone at Novotroitske EECP for several days, having no possibility to return to the GCA or proceed to the NGCA.

✅ Daily in August-September, up to ten persons had to stay overnight in the shed in the buffer zone at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP as they were not allowed to return to the NGCA due to inability to confirm residence registration.

✅ Similar to 2019, visiting relatives was the most widespread reason to cross in both directions. Receiving pensions or social payments and withdrawing cash were more common among people travelling from the NGCA.

✅ Before the introduction of quarantine restrictions, long lines were the main concern of the respondents at all EECPs. But in the fourth quarter of 2020, the majority became distressed with issues with permissions to cross, as it was possible only through two EECPs by a complicated procedure (52 percent compared to 8 in the first quarter).

✅ Also, in 2020, at least 3,000 people were provided with help from R2P monitors with installing and running the app «Vdoma». Moreover, R2P monitors have assisted about 800 people in getting permissions for crossing from the Coordination Group.

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.

Kind Regards,

Right to Protection

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.

16.04.21

In 2017, at the initiative of a number of human rights organizations, a resolution № 268 “On approval of the Procedure for granting the status of a child affected by hostilities and armed conflicts was developed and then – adopted.

According to this document, such a status can be obtained by a child or a person who has not reached the age of majority (18 y. o.) at the time of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) /Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and who as a result of hostilities and armed conflicts:

  • received injuries, contusions, injuries;
  • suffered physical and sexual violence;
  • was abducted or illegally taken out of Ukraine;
  • involved in the actions of paramilitary or armed groups;
  • illegally detained, including in captivity;
  • suffered psychological violence.

As of the end of 2020, more than 52,000 children, including the 93 children who have received this status due to injuries and contusions, and one child that has been physically abused.

The numbers are impressive. But, unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The fact is that most parents of children who could receive this status simply do not know about this opportunity or do not see the need for it as it does not provide the opportunity to receive benefits – neither the provision of qualified psychosocial assistance, nor the provision of free medicines.  

In addition, as our experience shows, there are many cases of local authorities refusing to grant this status and even revoking it. We have few examples of this as our team has been working with such cases.

At the end of 2020, the monitoring team of the Mariupol office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) revealed a systematic violation of the rights of minors in the Nikolsky district of the Donetsk region. The violation was the illegal and unjustified revocation of the status of a child affected by hostilities and armed conflict.

R2P Lawyer Ruslan Bereteli commented on this case:

 “When I received this case for analysis and testing, I immediately realized that the situation requires prompt intervention, and the work promises to be difficult, but at the same time interesting as it was the first time I have encountered such a violation. And the systemic nature of the problem required active, I would even say aggressive interventions. The violation did not allow children to enjoy the benefit of the free meals, so it was necessary to respond as soon as possible.”

Руслан Беретелі про становище та права ромської спільноти в Україні

Colleagues immediately began to initiate meetings with everyone who could help and influence the situation. In this case, the director of the Nikolsky Center for Social Services for Families, Children and Youth was the only one who disagreed with the current state of affairs.  However, we also had an ally in the Department of Social Protection of the Donetsk Region – its director is always a reliable partner in restoring justice for cases of violated human rights, she properly considers such appeals within her competence.

After all the meetings we agreed on the algorithms of cooperation and response. In addition, we asked the head of the Donetsk Regional State Administration to intervene in the situation, sending him a letter with a description and the legal analysis of the problem.

A representative of the Commissioner for the Observance of the Rights of the Child and the Family of the Secretariat of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was also involved in solving the problem. 

The result of the cooperation was a letter to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the opening of proceedings on this issue (the case was in the process of regional representation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions).

The advocacy team of the Charitable Fund ”Right to Protection” was actively involved. Our colleagues worked with the Department for the Protection of Children’s Rights and Ensuring Equality Standards of the State Social Service of Ukraine. 

They issued a sufficient number of appeals to the service, appealed and involved deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the process. All this was the reason for submitting an official request from the People’s Deputy of Ukraine to respond and investigate the activities of the above mentioned children protection service.

Finally, the order of the head of the Mariupol Regional State Administration revoked the orders which illegally revoked the status of children, affected by hostilities and armed conflicts.

R2P congratulates everyone involved in this victory!

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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:

09.04.21

Before the start of hostilities in the east of Ukraine, Volodymyr and his family lived in the village of Serebryanka in the Donetsk region.

On July 16, 2014, the village was shelled by the artillery. The projectile hit the roof of the house and, as a result, the man’s house was completely destroyed. The summer kitchen was also damaged.  

house destroyed in the shelling to the compensation Від знищеного під час артобстрілу будинку до отримання компенсації. Історія бенефіціара БФ «Право на захист»

Volodymyr’s family found themselves homeless and left without any personal belongings.  The only good thing in this situation is that no one was home at the time, so all the family members survived.

Because of the ongoing hostilities and the inability to live in the ruined house, Volodymyr was in despair. Their family was forced to move and rent a house. The man told his story to Iryna Abramova, a monitoring specialist at the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P).

house destroyed in the shelling to the compensation Від знищеного під час артобстрілу будинку до отримання компенсації. Історія бенефіціара БФ «Право на захист»

Before meeting our colleagues, the man did not know that in 2020 changes were made to the procedure for providing and determining the amount of financial assistance from emergencies and the amount of compensation for victims of destroyed housing.

Thanks to the cooperation and interaction with the local united territorial communities, the specialists of the R2P were able to immediately apply to the leadership of the Siverska amalgamated territorial community (hromada) to help the man receive appropriate compensation.

The Siverska hromada responded quickly. To protect the interests of the community a commission was set up and went to Serebryanka to prepare an analysis of all the destructions. In the end result, a positive decision was made – to provide monetary compensation to our beneficiary.

house destroyed in the shelling to the compensation Від знищеного під час артобстрілу будинку до отримання компенсації. Історія бенефіціара БФ «Право на захист»

Finally, Volodymyr and his family will be able to rebuild their home while the team of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) within the framework of cooperation with local communities will continue to provide free legal aid to those in need.

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02.04.21

For the 8-th year in a row the territories of Ukraine are occupied. Since then most internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been living in the new amalgamated territorial communities. These people have finally won the right to vote in local elections, but the state still treats them as the “temporary phenomenon” and continues to apply special rules and orders to them where the general ones must have long been applied.

This includes the restrictions on the choice of a bank to receive social and pension benefits (as of today, IDPs can receive above mentioned benefits only to the “Oschadbank” cards – ed.note), numerous checks on those who receive these benefits, and so on. It is time to acknowledge that the “temporality” of this situation has dragged on, so changes in legislation are needed to enable IDPs to integrate into the local communities.

Such changes should be provided by the recently registered Bill №4487 «On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine «On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons». After the Verkhovna Rada approval the Bill will deal with many issues, such as housing and IDP certificates, as well as and many other equally important issues.

But, in my opinion, one of the most important elements is the norm according to which the presence or absence of a certificate of registration of an internally displaced person cannot be a ground for restricting the exercise of the rights and freedoms provided by the Constitution, laws or international treaties of Ukraine with the exception of the cases when the IDP certificate guarantees additional benefits or guarantees, for example, receiving targeted assistance, free meals for children in educational institutions, annual rehabilitation, etc.

These changes should be the first step in resolving the problems of the internally displaced. Then, in order to comply with the adopted law, amendments to a number of bylaws must be also adopted. After all, it is necessary to finally give IDPs the right to choose the bank where they wish to receive benefits (“Oschadbank” is not the only state bank), it is necessary to cancel the resolution №365 and the so-called “home inspections”, which are not carried out now due to quarantine, but we know that after the end of the quarantine these restrictions may get back.

IDP Oschadbank card issue карта ощадбанка для ВПО
Oschadbank – the only bank which IDPs can use to receive their hard-earned pensions or social benefits

The state always talks about unifying approaches, but in fact does little to implement it, especially when it comes to the internally displaced persons. It is time to erase those artificial lines between “ours” and “theirs”, because we are all the People of Ukraine, the country to which the war came. It should unite us, not divide.

AUTHOR:

IDPs IDP Анастасія Одінцова: про менторський досвід, навчання інших та маленькі кроки для великих змін Anastasia Odintsova tells about her mentoring experience, teaching others and small steps for big changes

Anastasia Odintsova,

Advocacy Lawyer

Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P)


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01.04.21

Today we present the report “IDPs housing needs, intentions and opportunities. Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, and Kharkivska oblasts.”, prepared by the CF “Right to Protection”. Main goals of the report were to collect and systematize the housing needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) using the survey method, as well as to gather the monitoring data on residential buildings that can be reconstructed and further used as temporary or social housing for IDPs. Relevant recommendations and conclusions were also prepared.

Since the conflict outbreak, the State has launched six programmes to respond to the housing issue, which aim to provide both short-term and long-term solutions. Regarding the previously done analysis of existing programmes, we can presume that they cannot fully respond to the acute issue and that other solutions should be sought out and implemented.

To date, no comprehensive housing analyses have been conducted within Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, and Kharkivska oblasts where almost a fifth of all IDPs is registered (the biggest numbers after the conflict-affected Donetska and Luhanska oblasts, and Kyivska oblast and Kyiv). To address this, the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) monitored settlements in these oblasts with regard to available housing, and surveyed IDPs on their needs and awareness.

R2P representatives have conducted 444 monitoring visits to 282 settlements in Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, and Kharkivska oblasts. As a result, 898 objects were identified in 170 settlements of 68 raions of the three oblasts. The majority of objects are located in Dnipropetrovska Oblast.

Report IDPs Housing Needs, Intentions and Opportunities. Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka and Kharkivska Oblasts

Read more about our survey in the report:

English

Ukrainian.


This publication has been produced with the assistance of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of “Right to Protection” and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of UNHCR.

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25.03.21

On March 17, the Kharkiv office of the Right to Protection (R2P) organized an online webinar to discuss problematic issues in working with the «Social Hromada» system.

The event was joined by the representatives of the amalgamated territorial communities (hromadas), Administrative Service Centers (ASC) and the Department of Labor and Social Protection in the Kharkiv region.

During the webinar, officials who have been working with the program for a long time and those who have just joined were given the opportunity to share their experiences and advice.

What is a «Social Hromada»?

The information system «Social Hromada» is a client-server WEB-application, which is designed to bring administrative social services to the residents of the amalgamated territorial communities.

Advantages of the «Social Hromada» program for officials who work in amalgamated communities:

  • Professionals can process information and provide administrative services much faster. This makes a great workflow optimization – information can be processed by only one employee. Without using the «Social Hromada» same amount of work requires multiple employees to handle one particular task;
  • Head of the territorial community and specialists of the social protection service can monitor the processing of applications and carry out a quick search for any required data. This is possible due to the presence of an electronic “log of appeals”.

Advantages of the «Social Hromada» program for the population:

  • No need to go, for example, to a remote district center in order to receive social administrative services;
  • Possibility to track the status of applications online after contacting the “front” office.

Right to Protection (R2P) expresses special gratitude to the speakers of the webinar: Tetyana Shevchenko, head of the department of social protection of the executive committee of Bilozirka village council;  Nonna Turlo, Head of the Department of Automated Documentation Processing and Social Monitoring of the Department of Social Protection of the Chuhuiv District State Administration; Maryna Torbina, a specialist in the social protection department of the Merefa City Council.

R2P actively cooperates with the united territorial communities in order to ensure the protection of the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Соціальна громада Social Hromada

 UNHCR Ukraine


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25.03.21

On 11 March 2021, at their 1398th DH meeting, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (Committee) adopted a new decision on Ukraine’s progress in solving the systemic problem of non-enforcement or delayed enforcement of domestic judgments given against the State. In their decision, the Committee exhorted the Ukrainian authorities to take resolute action to resolve the long-standing problem, paying attention to the changes to the 2021 State Budget, which has only distanced Ukraine from comprehensively solving the issue. 

In particular, in 2021, expenditures to finance the State Budget Programme 3504040 ‘Measures for the Enforcement of Judicial Decisions Guaranteed by the State’ have been reduced sixfold compared to 2020, making it impossible for the State to pay its debts under thousands of unenforced domestic judgments. In January 2021, within the communication to the Committee of the state of execution by Ukraine of the ECtHR judgments on the matter, strategic lawyers of CF ‘Right to Protection’ submitted observations with the Committee, emphasizing the critical lack of funding to fully cover the expenditures for enforcement of domestic judgments, including those concerning the payment of pension arrears to IDPs and residents of the temporarily occupied territories.

According to the response of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the Government noted the interest of CF ‘Right to Protection’ to the non-enforcement problem (especially, with regard to judgments on pension payments for IDPs and residents of the temporarily occupied territories, as well as conflict-related losses), stressing that the State is focused on finding a long-lasting solution to this problem, which gives hope for the change of the current state of affairs. 

Finally, the Committee deeply deplored the dramatic decrease in funding of the State Budgetary Programme 3504040, adding that it ‘could be seen as an indication of the overall lack of political will to ensure the effectiveness of the system of domestic enforcement of judgments.’

Committee рішення Комітету Міністрів Ради Європи щодо невиконання Україною судових рішень

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