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.
Vasyl Artemovych is a disabled person of the 1st group, he sees almost nothing. In his hometown of Luhansk, he felt everything by touch and knew the exact number of steps to his favorite park, pharmacy, and hospital. But 7 years ago, on August 5, 2014, he fled from Luhansk. He left his home without any hope of a quick return, left and learned to live in a new place, got used to local streets, to a new apartment.
Initially, Mr. Vasyl lived in Pavlohrad for a year. In November 2015, he moved to a modular town in Nikopol and then settled in a dormitory. But in February 2021 this dormitory was decommissioned. And again, it was the uncertainty and anticipation of the need to move to a new place, because in 5 years the apartment in the dormitory has already become something very similar to home.
After learning from Olena Pazenko, a monitor at the Dnipro office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), about the possibility of relocating to Kamyanske, where the Ukrainian Social Investment Fund and local authorities were renovating a house into comfortable apartments for internally displaced persons, Vasyl Artemovych hoped that this might become a new home for him.
Thanks to Yevhen Romaniy, the director of the Municipal Enterprise “City Housing and Technical Inspection” of the Nikopol City Council, who provided the transport, Vasyl Artemovych, and 3 other IDPs were transported to Kamyanske to see the apartment: for him, it was unbelievable that a new house might be available somewhere.
The process of moving to Kamyanske was quite long, preceded by the months of waiting, but fortunately, everything is over. Ahead is a long life in a new apartment.
Olena Sukha, a monitor of the R2P, who accompanied Mr. Vasyl to Kamyanske, says:
«The Kamyanske community is an example of caring and humane treatment of people. On the first day, as soon as Vasyl Artemovych received the keys to the one-room apartment, he was visited by the social workers of the Kamyanske Territorial Center for Social Services. From their first steps in the new community people felt like at home here.»
Mr. Vasyl believes in God. In his words of gratitude, he always repeats that the monitors of the Dnieper office CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) are his guardian angels, who helped him in the difficult times: redirected to the UNHCR humanitarian aid, sent warm clothes by mail in the winter, and when he was left homeless, he was assisted in moving to Kamyanske, where he found his new home and people with whom he felt confident and comfortable.
The story began in May 2021. At first, this case seemed so complicated that it could be simply impossible to provide the necessary assistance.
However, we made an effort and were able to succeed and help this little family to cope with all the difficulties!
One day Natalia, a 27 years old pregnant woman applied to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection (R2P) for help. She was in difficult life circumstances since she had no identity documents.
Natalia is an orphan with a disability. Her parents died when she was a little baby. Aunt took her and her sister under guardianship. All of them lived together in one of the settlements near the town of Volnovakha, Donetsk oblast, Ukraine.
According to the woman, the aunt often insulted her. One day, Natalia’s patience ran out: she collected all of her documents and left the house. For several days she spent nights at bus stops where her documents were stolen. The girl was sheltered by a local resident of Volnovakha, who lived alone with his mother.
The pregnant woman was not registered at the women’s clinic. Natalia understood that the term was already very long and she would give birth soon, but due to the lack of documents, she would not be able to register her baby and get the necessary social assistance.
Being worried about the fate of her unborn child, the woman began to look for all possible ways to restore the documents. One day, Natalia turned for help to the R2P.
In May, Natalia gave birth to a daughter. Our colleagues helped her recover the stolen documents. On her birthday, she received a new passport, and a few days later – a duplicate of the taxpayer’s card (TIN).
Without wasting time, a daughter’s birth certificate was issued at the Volnovakha District Department of the State Civil Registry Office.
The Administrative Service Centre of the Volnovakha District State Administration provided state assistance for the birth of a child, aid to a single mother, families with children, and received a newborn starter kit.
Accounts were also opened at the bank to receive state monetary aid. From the Center for Social Services, the mother and baby received diapers and a baby blanket, hygiene products, bed linen, clothes for mother and child, food.
Social workers helped the mother and child to sign a contract with the family doctor. Now the child is under the supervision of a pediatrician.
During a visit to the family, it was also discovered that an elderly woman living in the house with Natalia had a serious illness and needed treatment. Employees of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) urgently transported the woman to the hospital where she was immediately admitted to the surgical department. Currently, the woman is feeling better and receives qualified medical care.
We are so glad that we were able to help this family. We wish Natalia and her daughter to never get into such a difficult life situation again!
R2P expresses its sincere gratitude for the cooperation in solving the problems of this family to the staff of the Volnovakha District Department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine, the Volnovakha Administrative Services Centre, the Volnovakha State Civil Registry Office, and the Center for Social Services.
Lyubov Ivanivna is a pensioner, an internally displaced person, and a fragile woman who had to personally go through all the horrors of 2014.
Back in the days the woman lived in Donetsk, Ukraine. Her home is located near the Donetsk airport. In 2014, after collecting the most necessary things, the woman left for Dnipro, where she lived in a rented apartment until December 2018.
Then Lyubov Ivanivna moved to a dormitory in Vilnohirsk because the prices for utilities there were more reasonable. But in February 2021, the residents of the dormitory received a report of eviction due to fire safety problems.
Upon learning about the possible eviction of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the dormitory, the monitors of the R2P provided information on possible options for resettlement within the Dnipropetrovsk region. But people who had already lost their home once and settled in a new place did not want to leave Vilnohirsk. Out of the 16 residents of the dormitory, only Lyubov Ivanivna decided to move to the city of Zhovti Vody. And the new town welcomed her.
Olena Pazenko, monitor of the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” accompanied Lyubov Ivanivna in the new city:
“When one comes to another city, it’s always a kind of a stress. And we always try to accompany our beneficiaries to help them visit all the institutions as quickly and productively as possible, as well as to gather all the necessary documents. And thanks to the head of the youth and sports department of Zhovtovodska City Council Olena Lauda and the chief specialist of the department Lyudmila Shkurenko, we managed to do everything in one day: inspect the dormitory, get a residence permit in the hospital and get an IDP certificate.
Some say that it’s not easy to be empathetic when you listen to and address the problems of dozens of people every day, but the employees of Zhovtovodska City Council ruined this myth with their own great example!”
– our colleague said.
Today, Lyubov Ivanivna lives in the dormitory of the Pedagogical College, where the 4th floor was renovated and furnished for the comfortable living of displaced persons.
“In the end of 2020, during a joint meeting, representatives of the Slovyansk UNHCR office stressed the need to focus efforts on resettlement assistance and housing for IDPs. In our work, we face the fact that many people who receive information about the available housing options need our aid and support. Housing issues are still unresolved for the most vulnerable social groups: those with disabilities, the elderly, single mothers with children.
During the relocation within the region, we have to meet people at the transport stations in the new cities and accompany them to the amalgamated territorial community departments, Departments of the Social Protection and to the Administrative Service Centres. It is too difficult for people to do all these steps alone, and not everyone can afford to stay and rent a house. This is the situation when our monitors come and help.
Communities are always interested in joint cooperation to make the lives of people better. And a great example of such cooperation is this particular case with Zhovtovodska Hromada,»
– said Myroslava Sushchenko, head of the Dnipro-Zaporizhzhya office of the Chatitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P).
Ostap was born in the Luhansk region of Ukraine in 1986. As a child, he moved with his family to the city of Debaltseve in the Donetsk region. There he grew up, studied, and met his future wife. Due to family circumstances, he was able to apply for a passport of a citizen of Ukraine only in 2014. At the moment the document was ready and the only thing needed was to receive it, the war began.
The man and his family fled in hurry and left almost everything they had in the Donetsk region – property, money, some of the documents. He and his wife later moved to the Ternopil region. In 2017, their son was born. Due to the lack of documents, Ostap was not able to officially become a husband and prove paternity. Lack of documents made it almost impossible for him to earn money for the family.
All this time Ostap tried to get a passport of a citizen of Ukraine. After numerous refusals, in 2020 he applied to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P). Since then, there have been endless calls, trips to the State Migration Service (SMS), appeals, applications, and, unfortunately, complaints.
In February 2021, the Migration Service finally agreed to identify our beneficiary. However, citizenship remained unrecognized. In May 2021, after two days of negotiations with the State Migration Service, documents to apply for the Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP).
Despite three official and dozens of unofficial refusals to issue a passport of a citizen of Ukraine, when applying for an SDP, Migration Service representatives insisted that these actions do not make sense, because the person is a citizen of Ukraine.
We will learn about the SMS decision later. In the meantime, regardless of the results of the examination, Ostap will now finally be able to obtain an identity document and open the door to a new life.
Svitlana was born in Russia in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union. The events of that time had a long impact on her life. When she was 2 years old, her mother transported her to Ukraine and left her alone. Another woman took care of Svitlana and in fact became her grandmother. Unfortunately, she failed to officially certify guardianship. This was one of the reasons for the beginning of troubles in which Svitlana got into at the age of 16.
Svitlana was denied a Ukrainian passport. For almost 15 years, the girl fought for her right to be a part of this world, for the right to have an education, to be able to work, become a wife, a mother. During this time, she repeatedly applied to the Migration Service to obtain Ukrainian citizenship. Instead, she only received oral and written refusals, requests to wait, come later, numerous excuses or responses that they are not competent in this issue.
During all these years, Svitlana got unofficially married and gave birth to 2 wonderful children. Due to her lack of documents, she and her husband were forced to prove paternity in court.
In 2020, Svitlana turned to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) for help. The woman and our lawyer were waiting for several months of appeals, complaints, and constant negotiations. Yet, in the spring of 2021, Svitlana was able to apply for stateless status after the introduction of the Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP) in Ukraine.
Still, this is only the beginning – explanations, challenges, and inquiries are ahead. However, this is a big step towards a bright future for a kind woman and her family. A future where the country that became a home for Svitlana will finally notice her, as well as other stateless people.
On June 30, the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) held a press conference “Final results of the implementation of the procedure for recognition as a stateless person.”
During the event, participants discussed the implementation of the newly established stateless determination procedure (SDP), the experience and practice of the R2P lawyers in providing free legal aid to the stateless persons, problems of such persons who were living in Ukraine without any valid documents for all this time, and the ways to solve existing problems with this new procedure.
The event was organized with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“UNHCR is very proud to be part of this team that has together worked on where we are at today, namely – the Stateless Determination Procedure in place in Ukraine. This all is a result of joint teamwork, where all sides contributed to the cause of establishing SDP. We are so proud of this effort which has made Ukraine the 21-st country in the world and the 15-th country in Europe to establish a dedicated Stateless Determination Procedure”
– says Carolina Lindholm Billing, the UNHCR Representative in Ukraine.
Ms. Carolina Lindholm Billing praised Ukraine’s active work to improve the naturalization of stateless persons. She stressed that Bill 5630, together with the procedure, is one of the outstanding steps taken by our state to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Goal 16.9: By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration) and the UNHCR Global Action Plan to End Statelessness by 2024 (Action 6: Grant protection status to stateless migrants and facilitate their naturalization).
“UNHCR has assisted and will assist the State Migration Service and other government agencies in providing the practical experience of other countries in overcoming statelessness. Now we are proud to say that Ukraine has become one of the positive examples for other countries. And now we share the experience of Ukraine with offices in other countries and highlight it as one of the good examples. We hope that the procedure will be available throughout the country as soon as possible to ensure the ability to access and apply for it, regardless of the place of residence of a person. This is a very good, powerful start to eliminating the issue of statelessness by 2024.”
– said Carolina Lindholm Billing.
According to Nadiya Kovalchuk, Deputy President of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), it is very important that all those involved in the introduction of the Statelessness Determination Procedure in Ukraine managed to gather on one platform:
“It is valuable for our Fund as a representative of the civil society that the State Migration Service, UNHCR, and the Human Rights Committee were involved in this process. Together, we have succeeded in introducing this long-waited procedure, which can put an end to the suffering and problems of certain categories of people living in Ukraine. We have been systematically addressing the problems of stateless persons, refugees, and IDPs for 8 years already.
R2P actively supported the need to establish a procedure after the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was ratified in 2013 in Ukraine. Our experts also provided a significant contribution and took part in the legislation development process. We understand that the standards and the procedure are tested in practice, but we are convinced that together withing the coalition of partners we will be able to fully implement SDP.
According to the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU), the first application for recognition as a stateless person was made in early May 2021. To date, almost 200 such applications have been accepted, which are subject to statutory inspections.
Natalia Naumenko, First Deputy Head of the SMS of Ukraine, said that the way to resolve the issue of statelessness was not easy:
“We had a lot of discussions because the world practice is ambiguous and there are not so many examples. Everything we have today in working with stateless persons is the result of the titanic work of representatives of the legislative and executive branches of government of Ukraine. Recently, for the first time in Ukraine, a stateless identity card was issued for travel abroad with a contactless electronic medium. Thus, stateless persons in Ukraine receive a completely protected world-class document and can safely cross the border in any direction.”
Ms. Naumenko expresses the hope that now the State Migration Service and partners will be able to help as many people as possible to learn about the Stateless Determination Procedure:
“Our task is to inform stateless persons about the new possibility to obtain valid documents that will give them both the rights and the responsibilities. The start is set. Through joint efforts, we will be able to achieve the goal of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.”
Dmytro Lubinets, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories in Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the City of Sevastopol, National Minorities and International Relations, stressed the urgency of the problem of statelessness:
“When I became the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee in 2019, I realized how urgent the problem of statelessness is in Ukraine. Together with colleagues, we developed Bill 2335, on which we worked jointly with UNHCR, who know the experience of other countries, and with the State Migration Service, whose work this law directly concerns.
The bill was registered and voted on June 16, 2020. We have created a Procedure that provides stateless persons with the ability to obtain an identity document and confirm the legality of stay on the territory of Ukraine. In addition, any person could obtain a temporary residence permit and a certificate of a stateless person. And the most important thing for us is that after receiving these documents and provided that a person lives on the territory of Ukraine, in 2 years an immigration permit and a permanent residence permit will be issued. “
“Stateless persons in Ukraine are the people who in most cases live without any valid identity documents and/or citizenship of any state, and have never received such documents,”
– explains Sofia Kordonets, Manager of the R2P Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine”.
During the implementation of this project, the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) provided assistance to more than 1,200 people, 305 of whom have already confirmed their citizenship, and 415 people have received the birth certificates (84 of them – for the first time).
“Out of the 700 beneficiaries of the R2P, 202 were identified as eligible for SDP. Almost half of them were born in Ukraine, but due to various circumstances they are not citizens of Ukraine, about a quarter are born in Russia, others are from the countries of the former Soviet Union, but due to migration, different laws and practices, they are not citizens of the countries they originate from or where they lived for a long time.”
– adds the R2P Legal Analyst Kseniia Karahiaur.
In more than a month since the first application, with the help of the lawyers of the R2P Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine”, beneficiaries have submitted 23 applications.
Recording of the Press Conference is available (in Ukrainian):
In 2015, Yulia and her 5 y.o. twin sons moved from Donetsk to the modular town in Nikopol. This was her second attempt to save herself and her children when it became clear that the war in eastern Ukraine would last a long time.
A year spent under shelling, sleepless nights, and waking up from torn shells now seem a thing of the past, but are not forgotten: Yulia’s children still shudder when they hear explosions of firecrackers or holiday fireworks.
Yulia and her sons are already packing their suitcases to move from the modular town of Nikopol to a two-room apartment in the town of Kamyanske. And, of course, their beautiful black cat Louis will join them in a new home.
Natalia Yukhymenko, the commandant of the modular town of Nikopol, has been taking care of the family since the beginning of their relocation to the city. This is what she thinks of Yulia:
“Yulia is a very bright person and an incredible mother! She does everything for her children. I’m sorry that Yulia is moving to Kamyanske, but at the same time I’m very happy for her because she dreamed so much about her own house!”
Before moving out of Nikopol, Yulia regularly went to the hospital with one of her sons who has disabilities. Monitor of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) Olena Pazenko once met Yulia and told her that Ukrainian Social Investment Fund (USIF) has renovated an apartment building for IDPs in Kamyanske. After learning about this possibility, Yulia decided to move to the city to apply for social housing.
Thanks to the support provided by the monitors of the Dnipro-Zaporizhzhya office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) and the indifferent attitude of the head of the housing commission of the Kamyanske City Council Alyona Skala, the dream of Yulia and her sons became a reality.
The woman can barely hold back tears of joy:
“Dreams come true! I still can’t believe that my family now has a real apartment! Thanks to USIF, to the caring community of Kamyanske who welcomed us, and to the R2P for making my dream come true!”
Myroslava Sushchenko, head of the Dnipro-Zaporizhzhya office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) says:
“Sincere words of gratitude from our beneficiaries are very valuable for us, as this is how we feel and understand our involvement in the realization of their dreams. This is exactly the feeling which gives meaning to our work!”
On 2 July, a round table was held on the topic of responding to the challenges of internal displacement in the context of transitional justice. The event was organized jointly by the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) and the Consortium Legal Aid Georgia (LAG), with the support of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (ODIHR / OSCE).
The participants discussed the practices used in Ukraine and Georgia regarding compensations for human rights violations caused by the armed conflict. In particular, during the discussions, the experts paid special attention to the consideration of successful and unsuccessful practices of ensuring the implementation of IDPs’ rights within the framework of transitional justice processes in Ukraine and Georgia.
Georgian colleagues shared their experience in implementing long-term solutions for IDPs, including those aimed at addressing housing issues and providing social protection.
In turn, Ukrainian colleagues outlined the issue of settling reparations in the draft and current regulations in the field of transitional justice, as well as shared the practice of introducing mechanisms for compensation for damage caused by the armed conflict in Ukraine.
“The legal framework for the transitional justice process in Ukraine continues to take shape. In this context, Georgia’s experience in compensating for human rights violations can be valuable both for the development and for the effective implementation of national transitional justice mechanisms. ” – notes Yaroslava Yudina, strategic lawyer of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P)
– notes Yaroslava Yudina, strategic lawyer of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P)
In recent years, the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) has been assisting the IDPs and the victims of an armed conflict in obtaining compensations for violations of their rights. As of June 2021, the lawyers of the R2P helped the beneficiaries receive UAH 1,574,000 in compensation for the destruction of housing as a result of hostilities.
This event is a part of the project of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (ODIHR / OSCE) “Promoting the human dimension of security in Ukraine”. The joint project will result in the development of mutual recommendations that will help strengthen the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the transitional justice process in Ukraine, as well as prevent violations of IDPs’ rights in Georgia.
Recording of the event is available (in Ukrainian)
Residents of one of the settlements of Volnovakha Civil-Military Administration (CMA) contacted the social workers of the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) and reported about a man of a respectable age without a permanent place of residence living in their settlement for almost 2 years, periodically in apartment basements and on the street.
Our colleagues immediately headed to the settlement, where they searched for this man and found out that now he temporarily lives in the country house with an acquaintance. The country house has no access to heating, water supply, drainage, and other conditions for permanent residence. In addition, it was found that the man is not officially employed, does not receive pension benefits, and needs a medical examination due to a stroke he had recently.
R2P Employees sent a request to the head of the Volnovakha City CMA for social protection of the homeless, paid a joint visit to the man together with the employees of the Center for Social Services and the Territorial Social Service Center of the Volnovakha City CMA.
As a result of the joint work, our beneficiary was registered as homeless and was issued a certificate to start receiving an old-age pension and/or a social pension, referrals were issued to the Pension Fund of Ukraine Office in Volnovakha District and the Volnovakha District State Administration.
The man was also offered accommodation in a charity rehabilitation center, but he declined the offer. It is also possible to accompany him to the hospital and provide humanitarian assistance.