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“Isolating the isolated: the draft law on temporarily occupied territories”

11 November 2016, KyivRepresentatives of state authorities, international and human rights protection organizations are calling for an inclusive and participatory approach in the formulation of legal acts concerning non-government controlled areas and its population.

This issue was the focus of the press-conference “Isolating the isolated: the draft law on temporarily occupied territories” held on 10 November 2016.

The UNHCR Representation in Ukraine, and partner NGOs CrimeaSOS,  Danish Refugee Council, Right to Protection and Vostok-SOS raised concerns with provisions of the draft law no. 3593-d “On the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine”, which is currently under consideration by Parliament. According to experts, the current version of the draft will negatively impact the humanitarian situation in the non-government controlled areas and deteriorate the climate of human rights observance.

The organizations underline that the full blockade and restricted humanitarian access envisaged in the draft law will affect over 2 million people residing in non-government controlled areas. The draft law foresees serious restrictions of civil and political rights as well as undermines international principles of reconciliation and post-conflict setting.

Ukraine’s responsibility for the fate of population and the non-government controlled areas is further underlined by Member of the Parliament, Grigoriy Nemyria, the Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-ethnic Relations: “People, who remained at the non-government controlled area of Donbas, are the citizens of Ukraine. It is the responsibility of the Government to take care of them and to protect them. They should not be thrown to their fate. Any attempts at legislative or executive level to “isolate” or “cut off” Donbas impair our national interest and contravene the Constitution of Ukraine and our international obligations.”

Experts keep a close eye on the issue of Crimea. “In the territory of the occupied Crimea, human rights are systematically abused and persecutions on ethnical or religious grounds take place. Ukraine’s rejection to fulfill its human rights related obligations leaves Crimean residents without any hope to be defended and may lead to impunity of those who violates human rights”, considers Tamila Tasheva, the co-founder and coordinator of the NGO CrimeaSOS.

It is hard to estimate all the difficulties related to the process of reintegration of territories after the Government of Ukraine regains control. This issue shall be framed in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine and in line with the international treaties of Ukraine, says Bohdan Melnykovych, lawyer at NGO Vostok-SOS. “Provisions of the draft law violate civil and political rights of residents of non-government controlled areas. They will hinder the reintegration process. In addition, suggested reconciliation measures are not such in their substance. If adopted in the present format, they may lead to ungrounded persecutions of unidentified number of people without a proper adherence to criminal procedures in place.”

The overall necessity to have a legislative framework for building relations with non-government controlled areas and its people is supported by KristaZongolowiczthe Country Director of the Danish Refugee Council: As a humanitarian community, we respect the sovereign integrity of Ukraine and would like to call upon the state to exercise its sovereign prerogative in a manner which is least restrictive to the fundamental human rights of the people as prescribed by the relevant bodies of human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The advocacy expert of the NGORight to Protection, Daryna Tolkach, raised concerns regarding full rejection of Ukraine’s responsibility to ensure the protection of human rights in the non-government controlled areas and “temporarily occupied” areas of Ukraine: “Lack of effective control over the territory does not remove the responsibility from the Government for the protection of human rights of its own citizens. This is based on the Article 1 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and the practice of the European Court of Human Rights. During the process of development of laws, it is important to assure their compliance with Ukraine’s international law obligations.”

Hugues Bissot, UNHCR Senior Protection Officer proposed an expanded consultation process: We recommend that Parliament and the Government of Ukraine look for approaches that will allow reconciling state security issues with human rights obligations of Ukraine. We also recommend to consider involving in the discussions foreign experts, civil society members and international organizations with vast experience in post-conflict settings as well as reconciliation efforts.”

The Ministry for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons called for reducing the isolation and improving communications in non-government controlled areas. Deputy Minister Heorhiy Tuka stated: “Our Ministry proposes to abolish the Law of Ukraine “On creation of the free economic zone in Crimea as this law does not resolve the problem of restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. On the contrary, it creates new challenges: interferes with the right of citizens to freedom of movement and complicates the mechanism of movement of goods and personal belongings. We also seek to introduce amendments to the Tax Code of Ukraine and the Law of Ukraine “On guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of citizens and on the legal regime on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine”. In particular, amendments shall simplify the process of movement of goods to and from the temporarily occupied territory, influence the currency and payment regimes on this territory and recognize individuals, whose place of residence is registered in Crimea, as residents of Ukraine.”


In the Central District Labour and Social Protection Department (LSPD) of Mariupol (Prospekt Metalurhiv, 35), as of the morning of November, 10 there were long lines of visitors.

According to the staffers of Mariupol office of CF «Right to Protection», everyday lines are constantly noted, because IDPs come to register for the subsidies or to prolong the targeted aid payments.

Regrettably, people have to stand in lines for hours, not being able to take a seat: the corridors are very narrow and there are very few places to sit on.

Notwithstanding the fact that in this region the greatest number of IDPs is registered (more than 28 thousand persons), the Central District LSPD continues to work in the same regime and with the same number of staffers as it was many years ago.


The residents of the urban-type settlement of Donske, Volnovakha District, Donetsk Region gathered on the local village council premises to be advised on the order of granting a rent subsidy.

The staffers of Mariupol office of CF “Right to Protection” Daria Zayarna, Snizhana Lukianova and Tetiana Vorobiova told the audience of the grounds of granting a rent subsidy, of the list of documents necessary for such granting, the order of document submission, peculiarities of application form and declaration filling, etc.

The people present were explained that in certain circumstances under the decision of the district administration body or the committee which it creates and the home study report of the household, a subsidy can be granted to a person who is unregistered but really resides in a dwelling premise (a house) on the grounds of a rental agreement, in the event that this person is obliged to pay for utility rates, or to individual developers whose buildings are not accepted into service. Simultaneously, such agreement doesn’t need notification if the rental term does not exceed 3 years.

Besides, during the meeting, the lawyer drew the audience’s attention to the fact that upon availability of the documents certifying the temporary absence of registered persons, a subsidy can be granted concerning the number of registered persons who actually reside in the given dwelling premise (house). In such a case the application can be supported by certificates as to the person’s residing in the territory of another administrative-territorial unit which is connected to the person’s medical treatment, studies, long-term business travel, sentence serving; certificates of utility rates payment in another dwelling premise (house); the home study reports of the household by the local village, town or city council; acts of  housing management organizations as to actually residing persons or rental agreements concerning some other place.

“Regrettably, people possessing the right to be granted a rental subsidy, do not appeal to receive it, because they have no true information as to the order of granting it,” noted Daria Zayarna, the lawyer of Mariupol office of CF «Right to Protection». “We hope that today’s legal session will help the residents of Donske better understand the process of subsidy granting, in order to refer as to its receipt correctly and in due time”.


Leaving their own houses in a hurry, people took along the most necessary things. It happened so, that they escaped gunfire and shelling having no personal belongings at all. As to kitchen utensils, bed linen or furniture, nobody considered taking them along.

Having settled in rented flats or houses, internal migrants felt acute need in seemingly common things: pans, pots, frying pans, bed linen and beds. This was also the problem of the residents of localities, situated close to the contact line whose houses suffered from shelling.

It was a bed that was a necessary thing which IDPs and people who suffered from the conflict can’t afford buying most often.

We will tell you four short stories of the people for whom a good bed was a real must-have, and of how we managed to help these people.

The village of Bakhmutske, Bakhmutske District, Donetsk Region

A single mother with her four children moved here from the village of Zaitseve which is near Horlivka. The family was lucky to rent a good house, however there were hardly any pieces of furniture inside. Three sisters are obliged to share one bed disturbing each other. Thus, folding beds transferred to the family by the staffers of Sloviansk office of CF «Right to Protection» will be very helpful for the children’s health and will improve their physical and emotional state.

The village of Orlianske, Vasyliv District, Zaporizhzhia Region

The former Horlivka resident has three children, whom she raises alone. A village house the family rents, though old, is warm, cosy and totally empty. The benches covered with blankets serve as children’s beds. A two-tier children’s bed, transferred by the staffers of Zaporizhzhia office of CF «Right to Protection», will help in normal growth and development of the children.

The village of Nyzhnie, Popasna District, Luhansk Region

The house of 77-year-old resident of the village of Nyzhnie, which is situated close to the contact line, was ruined as the result of a direct hit of the multiple artillery rocket system ‘Grad’ shell. The woman survived by a miracle. With the help of non-governmental organizations, the house was partially reconstructed, but currently there is no furniture there. To prevent the old woman’s sleeping on the floor in cold weather, the staffers of Severodonetsk office of CF «Right to Protection» transferred a bed with a mattress to the woman.

The village of Granitne, Volnovakha District, Donetsk Region

The old family couple has been residing in the village of Granitne for all their lives. Last year a shell hit their house, and the house was partially ruined as the result. The old people are in a difficult situation: their children were killed in an accident; they have no close relatives, so they can’t expect any help. Besides, the man is badly ill – because of his diabetes mellitus, his both legs were amputated. So, nearly all the time the old man is staying in his old bed which was covered with fur-coats and jackets for his comfort. The staffers of Mariupol office of CF «Right to Protection» are sure that a bed and an orthopaedic mattress transferred to the old man will provide his opportunity to turn and lift himself independently.


On November, 4 in the district library of the urban-type settlement of Novomykolaivka a meeting was held with representatives of Zaporizhzhia office of CF “Right to Protection” for IDPs who are residents in the territory of Novomykolaivka District.

The purpose of the meeting was providing free legal aid to IDPs.

The major attention was given to the issue of IDPs’ rights during the control exercise of their actual residence. This issue is currently a very urgent one. The point is that it is the control of actual residence that the further payment of money to IDPs depends on.

Besides, free legal aid was provided on the following issues:

  • social based (payment of pensions and utility rates);
  • employment;

provision of medical and humanitarian assistance and others.


The utility rates growth struck many of our compatriots, but IDPs who rent dwelling premises felt this growth especially hard. If utility rates payment becomes a disabling burden, internal migrants leave their rented flats and move to houses of residence/hostels or even return to the uncontrolled territory. Many IDPs falsely assume that only citizens with a residence permit or homeowners have a possibility register for the public utilities subsidies, though in reality it is not so.

“According to Article 6 of the CMU Resolution No 848, a subsidy can be granted to a person who has no residence permit but in fact lives in a dwelling premise under the rental agreement, in the event that utility rates are counted for such person. Consequently, IDPs have the right to register for the public utilities subsidies in the event that they have made a rental agreement, – says the attorney of Zaporizhzhia office of CF «Right to Protection» VadymStremoukhov. – The CMU Resolution No.1156 runs that tenants can register for a subsidy in the event that the cost of utility rates equals or exceeds 15% of the family’s total monthly  income.”

Naturally, in the event that tenants make such an agreement, the house owner is legally obliged to pay a tax (he is not obliged to become a private entrepreneur for this). If previously such a variant caused doubts with many tenants, presently the situation is changing: it is more profitable to pay the tax and let the tenants register for a subsidy than lose the tenants whatsoever.

In such cases a rental agreement can be presented as a usual handwritten document, not notarized and unstamped. The only condition is that the amount of rent must correspond to the standards of the given administrative-territorial entity.

IDPs can receive free civil legal aid on subsidy registration issues or on any other issues connected with internal displacement. For this they should refer to CF “Right to Protection” outer office.


Maksym* is a former resident of Luhansk, a big beautiful city with numerous streets, squares, buildings, schools and hospitals …

Having left his own house, his mother and himself found shelter in the village of Teple, Stanycho-Luhansk District, Luhansk Region.

However, in the village having such a cosy name (Teple means “warm” in Ukrainian) the family experiences a great number of problems, the major of them being the impossibility to find a job for a forty-three-year-old man.

The family had no money to buy firewood, so to warm the house, Maksym and his two companions went to the windbreaker to gather firewood. They had no idea that the windbreaker had been mined, as there were no signboards as to mining. As the result of a sudden explosion, one man was killed and two men got severe injuries.

Maksym has a multifragmental fracture of the left leg. At present he is unable to move himself.

And now winter is coming, and it is necessary to heat the old house. Only now Maksym needs considerably more warmth, as he spends almost all his time in bed.

Staffers of Severodonetsk CF «Right to Protection» office transferred to the family a warm blanket and a heater, sincerely hoping that in the condition of warmth Maksym will get better quite soon and before long he will be able to walk again.