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02.07.20

UNHCR representation in Ukraine invites to join the Community Support Initiatives (CSI) project. If you are an asylum seeker or a refugee and have an idea of the project that would benefit your community—check this out!

UNHCR representation in Ukraine and its Partners in the regions announce the start of the Community Support Initiatives (CSI) project. Community Support Initiatives are ideas of projects that are brought by members of communities with the aim of promoting awareness of their rights and the suggestions of the communities on improvements/changes to their current situation.

The start of the application project is today, July 1st! The end of the application project is on September 15th, 2020.

Pay attention! The sooner your active group submits the project, the sooner you’ll receive feedback and can start with its implementation! Because real changes start with each of us; and if we unite our efforts we will make the change happen quicker and more effectively.

You can discuss your idea and the application process with UNHCR Partners in different locations:

Kyiv: Rokada (Благодійний фонд “Рокада”). Address: 7 Chumaka Str., Tel: 044 501 56 96.
Odesa: The Tenth of April (Десяте Квітня). Address: 15 Heroiv Krut Str., office 511. Tel: 093 662 85 24.
Kharkiv: Right to Protection (Право на захист). Address: 85 Chernyshevska Str., Tel: 099 507 90.
Lviv and Zakarpattya: NEEKA Ukraine. Address: 3 Michurina Str., Mukachevo, Tel: 03131 321 22.

Please inquire for the details at the Organizations listed above depending on your location. They will explain the requirements and selection process, as well as help you develop your project idea.

23.06.20

The report «Crossing the contact line» provides the results of the survey conducted at all five Entry-Exit Checkpoints (EECPs) with NGCA in 2019.

The objective of the survey is to explore the motivations and concerns of the civilians travelling between the non-government-controlled areas (NGCA) and the government-controlled areas (GCA), as well as the conditions and risks associated with crossing the contact line through EECPs.

Highlights:

  • In comparison with 2018, the share of respondents who did not raise any concerns related to the crossing process increased at all EECPs except Novotroitske. The improvement may be related to the reconstruction of EECPs, which sufficiently improved the waiting conditions: installation of waiting terminals, passport control booths, toilets, and sheds.
  • 1,363 respondents (5%) mentioned cases of not being able to cross the contact line in the six months prior to their interview. The vast majority 1,086 (3,98%) of these cases were caused by the lack of permits in the SBGS database.
  • 38 fatalities reportedly took place at EECPs in 2019, including 16 deaths on NGCA side (information from social media and OSCE reports) for which the data cannot be confirmed. The preliminary causes of death in most cases in GCA were related to heart diseases.

The report is available in English and Ukrainian.

The survey is a part of the monitoring of violations of rights of the conflict-affected population within the framework of the project «Advocacy, Protection and Legal Assistance to the Internally Displaced Population of Ukraine» implemented by CF «Right to protection» in partnership with and with financial support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

18.06.20

During the period of quarantine restrictions, thousands of people have been trapped on both sides of the contact line. Most of those people who had justified reasons and all the necessary supporting documents for crossing, could not pass home, to their families, work, etc. Despite the efforts from different human rights organizations to help people to enjoy the freedom of movement very few managed to cross.

On 9 June, the Headquarters of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) reported that from 10 June two out of five EECPs, namely Stanytsia Luhanska (Luhansk oblast) and Marinka (Donetsk oblast), would resume their work.

However, as of 15 June, the problem of freedom of movement across the contact line remains unresolved:

  1. in Donetsk oblast EECPs operate only from the government-controlled area (GCA) side;
  2. in Luhansk oblast the passage was allowed only on 13–15 June according to the lists, which order of formation remains opaque and incomprehensible to the public;
  3. there is no information from the official authorities of Ukraine on the prospects of resumption of normal operation of the EECPs and the progress of negotiations with the Russian Federation and the de facto authorities on the non-government-controlled area (NGCA) on this issue.

It is also worth noting that during this period in Stanytsia Luhanska, 34 children, who intended to pass the trial external assessment on 15 June, passed through the EECP. But the Cabinet of Ministers canceled its attendance-based conducting at the last minute

Detailed overview of the events at EECPs in the period from 10 to 14 June you may find in CF “Right To Protection” digest, which is available in English and Ukrainian

03.06.20

For better action in the future, it is time to reflect on the achievements of the 3P Consortium, created by ACTED in 2019 to Prevent, Prepare and Protect (3P) communities and infrastructure from risks of industrial and ecological disasters in Eastern Ukraine.

Read more about 3P Consortium achievements since the beginning of 2020 in the Consortium newsletter available here.

01.06.20

Starting from March 22, 2020, quarantine restrictive measures have been introduced in Ukraine to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). These restrictions, in particular, provided for the partial suspension for the people to cross through the checkpoints on the contact line and the administrative border with the temporarily occupied territories. The first restrictions on passing came into force on March 7 for the checkpoints located on the contact line with the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, on March 16, in accordance with the order of the Commander of the Joint Forces, new restrictions on crossing the contact line were imposed on the checkpoints with the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and on March 22 the crossing of the contact line was stopped in both directions.

Since May 11, a gradual lifting of quarantine measures has started in Ukraine. However, according to the plan announced by the Prime Minister of Ukraine in April, there is no information about opening the EECPs. This situation makes one think that the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine are beyond the scope and attention of the Government of Ukraine.

Read the Coalition position on reversal of quarantine restrictions entering and exiting the temporarily occupied territories. The recommendations were developed by experts from non-governmental organizations that are members of the informal Coalition of Organizations Dealing with the Protection of the Rights of Victims of Conflict.

The document is available in English and Ukrainian.

01.06.20

The Alternative report (hereinafter AR) on the implementation by Ukraine of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereinafter the UNCRC) is the result of the joint work of public sector experts in the field of the protection of the rights of the child. The document contains up-to-date information on Ukraine’s compliance with the UNCRC for the period since Ukraine received recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child after the consideration by the Committee of the consolidated third and fourth National Report (2011) up to 2018 inclusively.

The report is available in English.

22.05.20

Today we present the digest of the CF ‘Right to Protection’ for January – April 2020. It provides information on the number and subject of citizens’ appeals to our colleagues at the EECPs, hotline, chatbot, as well as on the work of the organization within the project ‘Advocacy, Protection and Legal Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons’.

The document is available in English and Ukrainian.

30.04.20

Available on Facebook, the Refugee Helper chatbot from CF Right to Protection is now operational. The online tool aims to simplify the provision of critical legal information for refugees and asylum seekers in Ukraine. Additionally, the chatbot will raise awareness around issues related to the rights and responsibilities of refugees and asylum seekers residing in Ukraine, and it aims to help these individuals to integrate into Ukrainian society.

The chatbot was previewed at a testing format in December 2019 during the Access to Justice Hackathon in Kyiv. 

Svetlana Butenko, Senior Attorney at Right to Protection (R2P), says that the idea of providing legal aid online through an automated chatbot originated in the organization some years ago. “It’s important to take into account the individual life circumstances in which our beneficiaries find themselves” Svetlana says. “These are people who may need legal assistance at any time: while they’re crossing the border, or at night during an illegal detention. Many of them don’t speak Ukrainian yet, and so it can be difficult to understand the authorities or the local community. That’s why it’s so important for us—using modern technology—to have an automated helper that can be available from anywhere in the world at any time. Moreover, this advice should offer clear advice in an appropriate language.” 

The Refugee Helper is on Facebook and available 24/7—users can receive legal advice and answers to common questions at any time of day. For example, you can learn how to apply for refugee status, what to do if your application is rejected, what to do when authorities ask to see your documents, where to find housing, how to get a job, and many other useful tips. 

Adapting the information and legal terminology to the average user has been one of the most challenging tasks in developing the program: “Of course, we knew that we had to provide information as simply and clearly as possible so that any person could immediately access and use the critical information” Ms. Butenko says. “This is why we’ve included the ability to download relevant documents, and we’ve added links to institutions, government agencies, and other organizations which can help if someone is in trouble.” 

The chatbot tool is not intended to replace the legal specialists at organizations like R2P; the available information will not be enough to solve all problems. In cases where additional help may be required, R2P has also provided their project hotlines which are available to potential clients:

Kyiv: +38 093 049 52 18; +38 094 905 67 62

Kharkiv: +38 094 811 17 64

Lviv: +38 093 023 08 55

And, in case of emergency, the Viber & WhatsApp Number: +38 093 038 95 62

23.04.20

In 2019 alone, more than 40 deaths were recorded at the entry-exit checkpoints (EECPs) in Donetsk. In order to address this, it is necessary to urgently review the healthcare system and modify the medical infrastructure to suit the particular necessities of the region. This was discussed during the presentation of the report “Investigating the Conditions of Access to Care at EECPs.” The report was prepared by experts of the Charitable Fund Right to Protection (R2P) based on the monitoring results of the five checkpoints operating on the line of contact. 

According to Anastasia Odintsova, Advocacy Coordinator at R2P, the reason for conducting this complex research was concern about the statistical results obtained from Lugansk and Donetsk regions. For example, in 2018, more than 50 people were killed either by shelling at the EECPs or by health problems exacerbated while crossing the line of contact, and another 38 people died in the first nine months of 2019.

Only one of the above mentioned EECPs is actively involved in the provision of medical assistance to the civilian population through the use of public services. In the other cases, access to medical assistance came entirely from non-governmental and international organizations, as well as volunteers. Thanks to the efforts of groups like these, many tragedies have been avoided. However, this does not solve the systemic problem-one which should come under the responsibility of the state. 

Iryna Pesko, Legal Analyst at R2P, said during the presentation that, of the approximately 130,000 people who cross through the EECPs every month, the majority are over 60 years of age. For many of them, the journey across the contact line is a severe aggravator of health conditions: “Every day, people seek the advice and assistance of monitors and medical tents at the EECPs because this is the only available alternative to public health care…In Ukraine, we have no precedent or previous experiences to draw a standard operating procedure from. This is a problem that needs to be addressed comprehensively-taking into account the particularities of each potential patient, the weaknesses of local government bodies along the line of contact, and the obvious consequences of the destroyed infrastructure of medical facilities in both the government-controlled and non-controlled territories of Ukraine.”

A separate point of discussion was the lack of on-site medical infrastructure and the lack of adequate staffing for emergency medical centers. According to Valery Panteyev, a medical doctor at Première Urgence Internationale (PUI), their specialists have been providing medical assistance to people at the EECPs since 2016. But the lack of essential medical infrastructure is more evident now despite efforts of physicians, and despite the numerous instances when PUI representatives saved lives. This is a problem that can only be addressed at the state level. 

Inna Golovanchuk, Adviser to the Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, stressed the need for a unified approach and for the provision of medical care at all EECPs: “There are already principled decisions being made at the EECPs along the administrative border with [non-government-controlled areas], and we’re in the process of developing a way to provide medical care to the population at the EECPs and along the line of contact.” She emphasized that the state, as a guarantor of the right to access to medical care, should accept the responsibility from the non-governmental and international organizations that have been providing medical assistance at the EECPs in recent years. 

At the same time, in Ms. Golovanchuk’s opinion, given the experience gained by these organizations, it is advisable to consider the possibility of developing a mechanism for the state to contract these organizations to continue their work and define key performance indicators: “A number of formalities-in particular the uncertainty surround the chain of command and the optimal funding of the EECPs–will be eliminated by systematic regulatory work to unify the structure and define the complex of services at the EECPs. This will help meet the needs of the population as soon as possible at the EECPs,” she concluded.

As a result of the presentation and discussion, the participants plan to form a coordination group in the near future with the involvement of representatives of the relevant authorities and, in particular, the Ministry of Health and certain NGOs, to formulate further steps to overcome the identified problems.

The report is available in English and Ukrainian.

The study was carried out under the auspices of the ‘Provision of multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance to the conflict-affected population of Eastern Ukraine’ project, implemented by Right to Protection and with financial support from the European Commission through the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid’s ACCESS Consortium.