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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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In 2019, with tears in her eyes, Lida entered the Kharkiv office of the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) for the first time, holding her five-year-old daughter’s hand.

The woman said that she was born in a Roma family during the Soviet era. She has been living in the Kupyansk district of the Kharkiv region since the late 1970s, but no documentary evidence of this exists. A woman cannot prove her citizenship of Ukraine and obtain a passport.  

The Migration Service did everything possible for Lida – established her identity, and issued a certificate, but it was not possible to establish her citizenship of any state. Talking about her wanderings, Lida quietly wiped away tears and hugged her daughter, who had all the chances to repeat the fate of her mother and be left without documents, education, and a chance for a better life.

Passport for the sake of the daughter’s happy future. The story of Lida Паспорт заради щасливого майбутнього донечки. Історія Ліди

Lida signed an agreement with the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) on the provision of Free Legal Aid, and long and painstaking work began.

The fact of Lida’s residence on the territory of Ukraine as of August 24, 1991, was established in court. Later, a package of documents was prepared and submitted to establish Lida’s citizenship of Ukraine. Thanks to the high qualification, diligence, and persistence, and incredible efforts of the staff of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region (in particular, to the Ulyanchenko Kateryna Mykolayivna), the information necessary for Lida was formed and the documents were sent. 

Passport for the sake of the daughter’s happy future. The story of Lida Паспорт заради щасливого майбутнього донечки. Історія Ліди

In the end, Lida received a long-awaited certificate of registration as a citizen of Ukraine, and 2 weeks later – the passport. Now the woman is happy: she finally has the opportunity to work officially, register her place of residence, and most importantly – avoid problems with documents for her daughter in the future.  

Currently, employees of the Kupyansk Regional Department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in Kharkiv Oblast, together with the R2P lawyer are working on the issue of registration of Lida’s seven-year-old daughter as a citizen of Ukraine.

Now Lida’s eyes still have tears, but those are the tears of joy and gratitude. Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) wishes success to the family of the new citizen of Ukraine. Just believe – and everything will be fine!

Passport for the sake of the daughter’s happy future. The story of Lida Паспорт заради щасливого майбутнього донечки. Історія Ліди

UNHCR Ukraine – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine

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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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Our next story is about a special category of beneficiaries. According to our monitors, the number of people who have been released from prisons (from those who regularly cross the EECPs) recently had a significant increase.

Many of these people do not have any documents, and even if they have some – those are already not valid. Without the documents the return to the usual, normal life is impossible.

The story of Oleksandr begins in the town of Khrustalny (the old name is Krasny Luch, now located in the Non-Government Controlled Area) in the Luhansk region, Ukraine.

In 1994, a man received the passport of a citizen of Ukraine. In 2012, Oleksandr went to work in Russia. One day, all his documents were stolen, including the passport. But the misfortune never comes alone… The man was sent to a penal colony in the town of Klintsy in the Bryansk region.

Work abroad, the loss of documents and imprisonment. The story of Oleksandr 1 Поїздка на заробітки, втрата документів та позбавлення волі. Історія Олександра

After being released from the colony in December 2020, the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation issued Oleksandr an identity card to return to Ukraine. Then he was deported from the Russian Federation.

Work abroad, the loss of documents and imprisonment. The story of Oleksandr Поїздка на заробітки, втрата документів та позбавлення волі. Історія Олександра

The man was returned to Stanytsia Luhanska. He had no money or documents. The identity card given by the Russian authorities was valid only until January 21, 2021. Oleksandr was left alone – without a family, without home, without hope for the future…

Being in such a difficult situation, Oleksandr did not understand who to turn to for help.  Once, while walking through the city of Stanytsia Luhanska, he saw the announcement of the Right to Protection CF from which he learned that the fund provides free legal assistance in processing and renewing the documents.

Oleksandr turned to our specialists to obtain a new passport of a citizen of Ukraine. A lawyer from the Severodonetsk office of the R2P helped Oleksandr draw up and fill in the necessary documents, as he could not write fluently in Ukrainian.

At the Novoaydar National Police Department a dactyloscopic examination for an extended request for verification of a person at the State Migration Service was conducted. Then the identification of a person was done and a fee for the production of a passport was paid.

Thanks to the highly professional and efficient work of the Migration Service, particularly the head of the Novoaidar district department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine, Oleksandr managed to register as a citizen of Ukraine without the court procedure.

As of today, it is known that the man has already married and is actively searching for a job.

UNHCR Ukraine – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine

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Ivan was born in the late 1960s in the Donetsk region (back then – the Ukrainian SSR). There he studied at a boarding school. After graduating, Ivan entered a vocational school.

At the age of 16, Ivan received a Soviet passport, issued at the place of residence. All his life, the man lived in Ukraine with family, worked in one of the villages of Donetsk region and did not move anywhere out of Ukraine until 2002.

In 2002, as he returned back to Ukraine the need to replace a passport became urgent as the passports of citizens of Ukraine issued using the forms of the former USSR were valid only until January 1, 2005.

When the man applied to the Department of the State Migration Service for a passport of a citizen of Ukraine he was denied due to the fact that his citizenship of Ukraine could not be established. In addition, Ivan lost the original birth certificate and could not obtain it on his own due to the lack of valid documents.

Later, Ivan lost his Soviet passport.

In August 2019, Ivan applied to the office of the Right to Protection CF in the city of Slovyansk. After a detailed study of the case, the lawyer renewed the birth certificate and sent to the court a statement establishing the fact of Ivan’s permanent residence in Ukraine as of August 24, 1991 and as of November 13, 1991.

In the summer of 2020, after receiving a court decision establishing the mentioned above fact, Ivan applied to the State Migration Service department to register as a citizen of Ukraine. Due to quarantine, it took longer than usual. While waiting for a court decision, Ivan suffered a hand injury, and due to the lack of a passport he had difficulty accessing medical care.

Immediately after receiving a certificate of registration as a citizen of Ukraine, Ivan finally had the opportunity to apply for a passport of a citizen of Ukraine in January 2021. On March 3, 2021, he finally received a long-awaited passport.

From the age of 16 with a Soviet passport. The story of Ivan З 16-ти років з радянським паспортом. Історія Івана

UNHCR Ukraine – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine

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Statelessness is a multifaceted problem. Even people who are legally citizens of Ukraine have no opportunity to practically exercise most of their rights without documents.

We have repeatedly told the stories of people who failed to replace Soviet passports, or were simply not issued a passport for some other reason. The story below is about the importance of timely updating the documents, because a passport with outdated information is not considered valid. Sometimes however as in such a situation, it is simply not possible to timely update the documents.

Our beneficiary Natalia was born in Shakhtarsk, Donetsk region of Ukraine. There she married and had a child. After marriage, she changed her last name, but she never managed to get a passport with a new last name. The conflict in eastern Ukraine, which began shortly thereafter shifted all the plans. Despite her young age (Natalia was only 22 at the time), she had to move to Russian Federation.

In 2020, the girl was finally able to return to Ukraine. She really wanted to see her family. However, updates to the passport were needed in order to be able to enter Non-Government Controlled Areas. 

After applying to the State Migration Service of Ukraine to exchange her passport in connection with the change of surname, Natalia was refused due to lack of documents. In fact, the only passport she left with was marked as «subject to exchange».

Not having the confidence and understanding how to solve such a difficult issue, Natalia turned to the Right to Protection CF for help. The time was short. Back then the girl lived with people who were not indifferent to her situation and helped her out of pity. But the problem was that at any moment she could have been asked to leave the house where she temporarily lived. There was a risk of being left without housing and livelihood at all.

«Above all, I dream to see my family!»

– said Natalia.

The Fund’s lawyers analyzed the documents which the beneficiary had and made appropriate requests for additional information. Subsequently, a birth certificate and a marriage certificate were obtained. Eventually, Natalia replaced her passport. Her dream to see the family has finally come true!

паспорт щоб побачити рідних passport to see family

UNHCR Ukraine

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine

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In the end of 2019, R2P monitors met with Halyna (name changed) in one of the villages in the Donetsk region. All this time her only identifying document was the USSR passport, which is not considered as a legal proof of identity in Ukraine.

Halyna comes from the Crimea. In 2000, she moved to the Donetsk region. In addition to all mentioned, she has problems with the musculoskeletal system, which makes her mobility much more difficult.

According to the Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship”, Halyna is a citizen of Ukraine. Her Soviet passport contained a note of her residence registration in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as of August 24, 1991. However, she never received a Ukrainian passport. At first there were no passport forms for exchange, and then she just somehow forgot about the need for it.

Halyna even had a Soviet birth certificate, which however was in a poor condition. The presence of the birth certificate original is a prerequisite for applying for a passport of a citizen of Ukraine for the first time. The woman tried to obtain a passport on her own and renew her birth certificate with the State Migration Service, but unfortunately without any success.

The lawyer of the Right to Protection CF received a new birth certificate and prepared all the necessary documents. But then another problem emerged with obtaining a ticket in the migration service electronic queue. There was no room in the queue. Even in midnight it was impossible to get a coupon to visit the State Migration Service of Ukraine to issue a national passport. We had to wait more than a month to get a coupon. Suddenly a new problem arose – a quarantine. All entries in the electronic queue have been canceled.

Later, the lawyer received a new coupon to the SMSU. When Halyna arrived with all the necessary documents and two witnesses, she was denied again. It turned out that the State Migration Service must obtain the approval of the management to issue a passport of a citizen of Ukraine in such a difficult case.

The third attempt to obtain a ticket in the electronic queue took about a month. Given the state of Halyna’s health, as well as remoteness of her residence from the city of Bakhmut where the city department of the SMSU is located this third attempt was a real trial.

Fortunately, in early November 2020, when the woman returned to the migration service being accompanied by R2P lawyer and monitor, her documents were accepted for consideration and an identification procedure was carried out with the participation of two witnesses.

3 талони в електронній черзі, рік випробувань, ціле життя без паспорту. Історія Галини 3 electronic queue coupons, a year of trials, a life without a passport. The story of Halyna

As a result, in January 2021, Halyna finally received her new passport and was able to apply for a pension. It has been more than a year until she finally received a Ukrainian passport.

UNHCR Ukraine – Aгентство ООН у справах біженців в Україні

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Our beneficiary Maksym has been living in Slovyansk since 1986. He has never received a passport of a citizen of Ukraine. Maksym is disabled, has lost his eyesight and moves in a wheelchair.

In 2016, he tried to obtain the document on his own. The State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU) managed to establish the identity of the man, but not the citizenship. Two years later, Maksym once again applied to the service to obtain a passport, but also with no luck.

He realized that he required professional legal aid in order to obtain the document. Maksym turned to the office of the Right to Protection CF in Slovyansk. Our Fund’s lawyer helped Maksym recover his lost birth certificate. After that, we applied to the court to establish the fact of Maksym’s permanent residence with his parents in Ukraine as of November 13, 1991. 

We even had to search for a witness in order to confirm this fact. Fortunately, a neighbor who had known the man since childhood agreed to come to the court to help.

With a court decision in his favor, Maksym appealed to the territorial department of the SMSU and finally received a certificate of registration as a citizen of Ukraine, and later, in December 2020 – a passport.

Історія Максима. Паспорт для того, аби побачити Maksym Story Passport to See

“When I received my passport, I immediately signed a declaration with my family doctor and underwent eye surgery. Previously, without documents, I could not receive even basic medical help… “

 Maksym commented after finally receiving his first passport in life.

UNHCR Ukraine – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine

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20 million UAH in 2020 and 114 million UAH in 2021 were included in the state budget to pay compensation to people whose property was destroyed as a result of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Among those who have been compensated are nine clients of the Right to Protection CF.

Decisions on the compensation payments are made by specially created commissions. They include representatives of the regional state administration and non-governmental organizations. Eight meetings of such commissions took place in December: three in Luhansk oblast and five in Donetsk oblast. According to the results of these meetings, compensation was approved in 33 cases in Luhansk region and 47 in Donetsk region.

The biggest obstacle to obtain compensation was the problem with ownership documents. Many people required legal consultation on this matter. In addition, in order to receive compensation, a person must relinquish ownership of the destroyed housing, while victims often did not want to do so due to their distrust of state institutions, which resulted in refusal to participate in the compensation procedure.

In order to monitor the work of local commissions, collect and transmit data to the regional housing and community services department and to the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, control bodies are established at the level of district councils, such as the Volnovakha Regional State Administration. District commissions provide assistance to regional and national authorities only if the latter do not have the opportunity to apply to local commissions.

For security reasons, the commissions were unable to visit some districts of Pivdenny, Marinka, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Opytne, Vodyany, Pisky, Taramchuk and Berezovo, Donetsk region, as well as some districts of Zolote-4, Luhansk region, to inspect the destroyed housing. In some cases, such as Marinka, the Joint Forces Operations (JFO) management refused to allow the inspection, while in other cases, such as Berezovo, a decision by the Joint Forces Commander is still awaited.

In December, lawyers of the Right to Protection CF worked on 49 court cases concerning access to adequate housing, land, and property. 7 cases were positively resolved by the courts of first instance and one case – negatively, 7 positive decisions came into force. In one (previously negative – ed. note) case, after successful review in the Court of Appeal it also entered into force. Another 36 cases are still being heard in the courts of first instance, 4 cases – in the courts of appeal.

compensation housing destroyed

In addition to this, in December 2020, the team of R2P accompanied 54 strategic lawsuits: 39 cases of compensation for destroyed and damaged housing in national courts, 14 cases in the ECtHR and one case for compensation for a house that was destroyed in fires.

33 cases were heard in the courts of first instance and one decision was in favor of our beneficiary. Courts of first instance considered two more cases on enforcement of decisions by the Court of Appeal on the compensation for destroyed housing. Three cases were heard in the Courts of Appeal, and two of them were upheld. 2 cases are being considered by the Supreme Court. Another 14 cases are considered in the European Court of Human Rights. In nine of them, the complaints were based on the fact that the partial compensation (UAH 30,000 – 100,000) awarded by the Supreme Court was inadequate and that the domestic courts had not protected the plaintiff’s property rights. Three cases were initiated regarding the lack of access to property in the temporarily occupied territory.