Isolated few receive asylum in Ukraine


The Ukrainian Refugee Council, which is made up of a number of human rights organizations, stated on Thursday, that refugees’ rights were systematically violated in Ukraine.

Over the last five years only 3 percent of asylum seekers have received refugee status in Ukraine. the Council believes that due to an outmoded and flawed law on refugees, the Ukrainian authorities only recognize people who flee individual persecution. People fleeing en masse from countries facing a humanitarian catastrophe or military conflict are turned down, Natalya Dulnyeva from the Council says. “In the majority of cases the migration service turns down people from countries like Iraq and Somalia where there are humanitarian catastrophes, merely because a lot of them flee. Refugees from military conflict areas, like the Chechen Republic are also rejected.”

The State Committee: no obstacles

Deputy Director of the Department on Refugees and Asylum-seekers for the State Committee on Nationalities and Religion, Natalya Naumenko agrees that there is such a problem. However she says that a new draft law is being drawn up which should regulate this.

She does not agree that there are obstacles to receiving refugee status. “We have one of the most democratic procedures and law in the world. Absolutely all those wishing to apply for refugee status can be accepted for application procedure.”

The Council also asserts that the Ukrainian authorities don’t care about refugees. According to Council representative Dina Hood, the Budget for 2009 does not envisage assistance to refugees. “The size of this assistance has not changed since the law was passed. A once-off payment for an adult was 17 UAH and for a child even less, and now there is nothing at all. People often spent more on transport coming to get the assistance. Ms Naumenko responded that the economic situation in the country was difficult, and everybody had to economise.

Civic organizations dealing with refugee issues say that the European Union is also closing its eyes to the situation with asylum seekers in Ukraine, and simply allocates money for maintaining temporary holding facilities so that they don’t get to the EU. The Council has collected testimony from refugees about their life in Ukraine which they plan to publish.

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