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On November 24 within the framework of the Council of Europe project «Internal Displacement in Ukraine: Building Solutions» Presentation of a special report of the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova «Realization of the right for housing for IDPs» was held in the online format. 

Event was e-attended by international experts and researchers in the field of human rights, representatives of international organizations and ombudsmen, MPs, members of the government of Ukraine and relevant committees of the Verkhovna Rada. 

Elina Shishkina, Advocacy Coordinator of the Right to Protection CF, also joined the discussion where she spoke about the problem of lack of funding for Affordable Housing and the Loan at 3% programs for 2021 (These programs provide an opportunity for IDPs to acquire housing), as well as on the work of commissions on compensation and implementation of the mechanism for payment of compensation for damaged or destroyed in armed conflict housing, which is provided by the Resolution №767 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine .

«The right of internally displaced persons to acquire housing and the opportunity to sell it, as well as the right to receive compensation for the housing damaged or destroyed in the result of an armed conflict should remain a key element of state policy» 

– said Elina Shishkina.

Earlier we reported that R2P jointly with civil society organizations, prepared and published an open appeal to the Budget Committee of the Verkhovna Rada and the Government of Ukraine on the need to finalize the draft budget for 2021 before the second reading and provide funding  for the listed above programs.

Live streaming recording of the online presentation is available:




On October 3, 2020, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in case №33137 / 16 (Lyudmyla Mykolayivna KANDYBA and Others against Ukraine), which was published on November 19 and caused a whirlwind of contradictory information both in the media and among human rights activists.

The case concerned a complaint by 7 applicants from Luhansk alleging a violation of their rights to receive various “social benefits, such as pension or child benefits” in the temporarily occupied territory (hereinafter – TOT), namely the violation by Ukraine of Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to Convention (hereinafter – the Applicants).

Circumstances of the case

The case was related to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (hereinafter – CMU) №595 of 07.11.2014 “Some issues of financing budget institutions, making social payments to the population and providing financial support to certain enterprises and organizations of Donetsk and Luhansk regions” (hereinafter – Resolution №595).

We will remind that according to some provisions of this resolution, it was forbidden to carry out financing of budgetary payments in the territories which were not controlled by authorities of Ukraine. These payments were to be resumed only after the return of these territories under the control of the official authorities.

At the end of 2014, the Applicants filed a lawsuit with the National Court declaring Resolution №595 invalid, declaring the CMU’s inaction to ensure social benefits and pension obligations for residents of the temporarily occupied territories unlawful starting in July 2014. Although the Court does not indicate the case number, it can be concluded that this is a well-known case №826 / 18826/14.

By the decision of the court of first instance of 11.02.2015 the claim was partially satisfied, paragraph 2 of the Resolution №595 was canceled (the rest of the Resolution did not directly affect the rights of the plaintiffs, so the court reasonably rejected the claim in this part). In addition, the court dismissed the remaining claims on the grounds that the CMU was not a proper defendant in the dispute, which was also justified and lawful under national law, as social and pension payments were made by social security territorial bodies of the Pension Fund of Ukraine (hereinafter – PFU), respectively.

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Court of First Instance on 2 April 2015, dismissing the appeals of both the applicants, the defendant and third parties (some ministries and the PFU). On May 22, 2015, the said decision was published in the Official Newspaper of Ukraine as part of the process of appealing against legal acts. 

In June, the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine (then the Court of Cassation in Administrative Cases) suspended the execution of the contested decisions at the request of the cassators (CMU and the Ministry of Finance), which is common practice in such disputes, but on October 16, 2015 stopped the review of the case and left the decisions of courts of previous instances without changes.

The applicants lodged numerous complaints demanding that the court’s decision be complied with, which, in their view, should have led to the continuation of their social and pension benefits. The European Court of Human Rights lists the addressees of the Applicants’ appeals and their responses, which are as follows: the responsible authorities did not pay social and pension benefits to the Applicants, although the court’s decision to annul paragraph 2 of Resolution №595 came into force.

It should be noted that the repeal of the normative act or its part does not lead to the automatic continuation of payments or other, desirable for the applicants, the behavior of the defendants. However, in the present case the applicants did not bring actions directly against those authorities responsible for making the payments, focusing on proving the obligation of the various authorities to make those payments precisely in pursuance of the judgment in decision 826 / 18826/14.

In addition, 3 out of 7 Applicants filed a lawsuit with the Kyiv District Administrative Court demanding to declare the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine decision in the above-mentioned case illegal. In their opinion, the very continuation of their social and pension benefits should have been the result of the execution of the court decision.

This claim was (expectedly) denied by the court of appeal at the end of 2019 and upheld the court’s previous decision (as the Court notes, the decision was not appealed in the court of cassation – paragraph 28 of the Decision).

While reviewing the case, the European Court also drew attention to the case law on the protection of the rights of IDPs and TOT residents to receive pension benefits, citing the case law №227 / 2158/17, which was directly accompanied by lawyers of the Right to Protection CF. The court, which established the right of a TOT resident who had never been an IDP to receive a pension.

The position of the Court

The Court emphasized that the applicants had not applied to the domestic courts with applications for payments continuation. However, the filing of such actions could have led to a “reasonable chance of success” (see paragraph 53 of the judgment). The Court accepted the Government’s argument that the partial annulment of Decree №595 should not have led to an automatic resumption of payments to the Applicants (see paragraph 54 of the Judgment) and required additional measures on the part of the Applicants (appeals to the relevant sides). The applicants did not claim that such appeals would be too burdensome for them (see paragraph 55 of the judgment).

The Court therefore declared the applications of 6 of the 7 applicants inadmissible.

Another of the applicants, according to the Court’s judgment, moved to the controlled territory, received his full payments and lost contact with the Court (accordingly, his complaint was removed from the list of cases).


Thus, the European Court of Human Rights has not stated that Ukraine should not pay social and pension benefits. The decision in the case is not a decision on the merits of the dispute, but the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly pointed out that before applying to it, applicants must use the available means of defence at the national level. The responsibility for the correct choice and exhaustion of these remedies rests undoubtedly on the applicants and their lawyers, and haste in applying to the European Court of Human Rights is never justified.

Right to Protection CF protects the rights of citizens not only in national courts but also in the European Court of Human Rights, but filing complaints in Strasbourg without the use of national remedies are rare exceptions, as our successful case law shows that most violations can be remedied in Ukrainian courts.

Of course, the issue of non-enforcement by the state is open and painful, but this does not relieve potential applicants from the obligation to bring actions before national courts before applying to the European Court of Human Rights. Furthermore, in the present case the Court does not put forward the applicants’ arguments that the filing of the relevant actions would be an ineffective remedy, which most likely indicates the absence of such arguments.

We are confident that the European Court of Justice will soon express its position on the right of TOT residents to receive social and pension benefits and the corresponding obligation of the state to create effective and affordable mechanisms for making such benefits. We expect this position to be positive for the applicants. In many respects, the outcome of the case, as we see, depends on the correct choice of both the legal strategy and the lawyers who will implement it.


From today until December 10, within the framework of the UN Secretary General’s UNiTE Global Campaign, United Nations in Ukraine prepared the campaign «16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence in Ukraine», the theme of which in 2020 is «Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!».

According to the research data by UN Women, as well as a to a number of other organizations, the incidence of domestic violence against women has increased significantly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We recently wrote about the results of a study by the Right to Protection CF – our colleagues found out that such trends, unfortunately, are also present in Ukraine, along the demarcation line. Lockdown has negatively affected the mobility of women who are at risk of violence against them due to them constant being in a closed space, without ability to protect themselves.

In numbers, according to the UN:

  • 21 million women worldwide are refugees and internally displaced persons, representing 50% of the total number of IDPs. They are in the category of persons particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence;
  • 1 in 3 female respondents have experienced physical and / or sexual violence at some point in their life, most often committed by their intimate partner;
  • Only 52% of women in a relationship have the opportunity to make their own choices about contraception, sexual life and medical care;
  • 71% of victims of trafficking are women, 3/4 of them have been sexually exploited;

We invite you to join the global movement by watching the digital performance «New Scars», created jointly by the United Nations in Ukraine and the Wild Theater*, who collected real stories of Ukrainian women about their physical and mental wounds caused by violence. Main idea of the play is that it is fully interactive. As a spectator, you can influence the plot, choose the scenes and how the actors will behave in a given situation.

* Disclaimer:  spectacle contains scenes of cruelty and is intended for an audience of 14+

Online performance broadcast (starts at 20:00)

Broadcast on UA: Culture TV will be on November 29 at 22:00

Trailers available on the UN Women Ukraine Facebook page

Website – 

Event page –


On November 20, at 5:30 p.m., a webinar-discussion on the humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine took place.

Event topics and speakers:

  • Humanitarian situation in occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. (Tetiana Yakubovych. Ukrainian journalist, editor of Radio Donbas.Realities of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Ukrainian Service)
  • Situation with crossing the Ukrainian border from occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. (Elina Shyshkina. Advocacy Coordinator of the Right to Protection CF)
  • Religious situation in the non-government controlled areas in Eastern Ukraine. (Maksym Vasin. Executive Director of Institute for Religious Freedom (Ukraine) )
  • Situation with the detainees and places of illegal detention in occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. (Oleksandra Matviychuk. Chairman of the Board of the Center for Civil Liberties)

«People must be able to freely and safely cross the demarcation line through the entry-exit check points, as well as without breaking any laws of Ukraine, »

– our colleague Elina Shishkina commented

Recording of the webinar is available


Our beneficiary story is the clear example of the awful human rights violations that took place at the Exit-Entry Check Points (EECP) in Luhansk and Donetsk Regions after the introduction of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions on March 27, which resulted in closing all borders and checkpoints in Ukraine. In fact, people who were in need to cross the line of demarcation in Donbas were trapped without money, food and had nowhere to sleep at night. And unfortunately, Valentyna was the one of them. 

Right to Protection CF lawyers helped the woman to obtain compensation for non-pecuniary damage, as well as to prove the illegality of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine actions due to which our beneficiary was unable to cross the demarcation line. The appeal was upheld on 16 November 2020, Court decision is final. 

Details on the story of Valentyna – in the video below.


“I still can’t believe it’s all real,”

– our beneficiary said when she finally received her dream birthday present – a passport of a citizen of Ukraine.

Liuba is 37 years old. She was born and raised in a large family of Roma ethnicity. The family lived in hardships and often moved from place to place, later settling in a permanent residence in the Novovodolazk district of Kharkiv region. When Lyuba grew up, she was married in accordance with Roma tradition. The woman became stateless because her parents did not deal with the documents issue. Liuba gave birth to five children, but the two older ones were taken away from the woman due to lack of documents.

The woman’s plans for life changed dramatically when her parents’ house suddenly burned down.  Unable to withstand such a blow, Liuba’s father died of a heart attack. She was forced to return to the Kharkiv region to be able to support her mother. All this time Liuba tried to get a passport and repeatedly applied to the local “passport office”, but to no success.

Our colleagues learned about Liuba’s story from the partner organization Depol Ukraine CF. Their representatives appealed to the Kharkiv office of the Right to Protection CF to help the woman obtain a passport.

R2P lawyer made number of inquiries to the state institutions to gather all the necessary documents to confirm Liuba’s citizenship. Under the current law, a woman’s nationality depended on the place of residence of her and / or her parents. In order to prove the fact that the family lived in their native village in 1991, a request was made to the village council.

After that, the citizenship of Liuba’s parents was confirmed and it was agreed with the leadership of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region to prove the personality of Liuba with the help of only one witness. And it was the woman’s sister Raya, who came from the Kirovohrad region with a 3 month-old child to help her sister with citizenship. However, discrepancies were found in the sisters’ birth certificates, which the lawyer had to correct.  Thanks to the help of employees of the Kholodnohirs’kyy district of the State Register of the Acts of a Civil Status in Kharkiv the documents were processed as soon as possible.

In the end, the State Migration Service of Ukraine in Kharkiv region issued a final positive decision on the identification of Liuba, as well as issued the passport of a citizen of Ukraine for the first time in her life. In fact, on the eve of her 38th birthday, Liuba’s most cherished dream – to receive the passport finally came true.

Now it’s time for the Liuba’s children and her youngest sister (in whose case the Kharkiv Court of Appeal issued a positive decision) to receive the documents. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.


In September and October 2020 fires in the Luhansk region resulted in catastrophic consequences. The most difficult situation is along the contact line on the territory of Stanytsia-Luhanska, Novoaidar and the Severodonetsk districts, where more than 30 settlements fell into the affected area.

Wildfires fires in Luhansk Oblast

To eliminate the consequences of fires, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine allocated more than 185 million UAH from the reserve fund of the state budget to the Luhansk Regional State Administration (CMU order № 1269-r of October 13, 2020 “On the allocation of funds from the reserve fund of the state budget”).

Material assistance is provided in the case of:

  • death of a family member – UAH 200000;
  • serious injuries – UAH 50000;
  • moderate injuries – UAH 30000;
  • minor injuries – UAH 20000.

In order to create appropriate living conditions:

  • 300000 UAH per family will be allocated to the owners of completely destroyed residential buildings;
  • 50000 hryvnias per family will be allocated to the owners of residential buildings that are subject to major repairs.

To receive monetary compensation, victims must submit a package of documents (copies of passport, identification code, document of ownership of housing, commission act about the degree of damage from the fire, current account in a bank) to the relevant administrative units or to Civil-military administrations of settlements at the location of housing and applicant’s residence.

The situation is complicated by the fact that many people have lost their identity documents or the documents confirming the ownership of housing.

On the first days of the tragedy, lawyers of the Right to Protection CF and the NRC-NMFA traveled to the affected settlements and now provide legal assistance on recovering lost documents and on the procedure for obtaining payments from the state budget for households affected by the fire.

Our colleagues have already consulted 418 victims, accompanied the person to the First State Notary Office to obtain a duplicate certificate of inheritance, filed 5 lawsuits for recognition of property rights (some people have not inherited the house or property at the moment it burned down, so the notary refused to issue a certificate).

Right to Protection CF provides free legal assistance to the victims of wildfires in Luhansk region.

Call us if You need legal help:

(099) 507–50–90

(068) 507–50–90

(093) 507–50–90

Assistance is provided with the support of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Ukraine and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


On November 18 Right to Protection CF with the support of the U-LEAD with Europe Program organized an event in the format of an online consultation “How can amalgamated territorial communities (hromadas) receive financial assistance (subvention) from the state to provide housing for internally displaced persons?” 

The event was attended by representatives of 50 united territorial communities of Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia regions. During the consultation, the existing opportunities for international technical assistance for socio-economic development of united territorial communities in Ukraine in above mentioned regions were also discussed.

As been noted by Myroslava Sushchenko, the Head of the offices of the Right to Protection CF in Dnipro and Zaporizhia, decided to organize this consultation event for the members of amalgamated hromadas, who have repeatedly approached our specialists for information on existing financial opportunities to provide housing for IDPs, which exist primarily through the receipt of a subvention from the state to local budgets.


  • Maksym Alekseenko-Lemovsky, Chief Specialist of the Department for Formation and Implementation of Housing Policy of the Ministry for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine told about the procedure and conditions for providing a subvention from the state budget to local budgets. 
  • Myroslava Sushchenko spoke on how to develop and approve the Local Targeted Program for Housing for IDPs and on the procedure for establishing a temporary housing fund, providing it for the use of IDPs, purchasing apartments on the secondary market and providing migrants with housing on financial leasing terms.
  • Vartan Muradyan, a field adviser at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Slovyansk told about their work.
  • Markiyan Zhelyak, Public Engagement Specialist of the Emergency Loan Program for Ukraine’s Reconstruction Program, spoke in detail about the achievements and results of implemented projects in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia oblasts, as well as future potential UNDP projects. 
  • Anna Aladzhalyan, Chief Community Development Consultant of the Eastern Regional Office of the Ukrainian Social Investment Fund introduced the participants to the projects and activities of the USIF.

“Every amalgamated hromada has the opportunity to receive financial assistance from the state to purchase housing for IDPs. The main thing here is to set the right priorities, calculate your own strengths and write projects in proportion to the community’s capabilities in order to receive the appropriate subvention. For example, this year 10 apartments in Kramatorsk, 8 in Pokrovsk, and 1 house in Primorsk, Zaporizhia Oblast, were purchased at the expense of the subvention. It may be just one house, but it is still a step towards solving the housing problem of at least one socially vulnerable family of migrants. I urge communities to participate in the competition for a state subvention for socio-economic development of the territories, ”

– commented Ms. Myroslava.



This guide provides an extensive overview of existing state and local housing programs in the housing sector. It will be useful for local governments, as it will allow them to analyze existing practices in the context of housing policy in all regions of Ukraine.


A collection of model documents that includes various options and examples of legal regulation for the provision of IDPs’ housing rights. The collection was designed to facilitate the development of an appropriate documentation framework for communities that intend to implement programs to help address the housing problems of migrants.


For almost five months now, the teams of the Right to Protection CF have been involved in the implementation of the project «Prevention of the spread and response to COVID-19 in areas in eastern Ukraine affected by the conflict». Together with partners from the 3P Consortium and with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), we are working to raise awareness of the coronavirus situation and monitor public protection. 

Physicians and patients have repeatedly pointed to significant delays in obtaining test results (PCR). The wait could be up to seven days, and sometimes longer. This situation not only undermines the measures to effectively control the spread of infection, because the establishment of contacts begins only after confirmation of the diagnosis, but also deprives the hospitalized of proper treatment. In addition, such delays may also contribute to the spread of the virus among patients and medical staff, given that it is not always possible to isolate patients with suspicion from each other and not all of them end up in specialized medical facilities for coronavirus treatment. Therefore, because of the rapid spread of coronavirus infection in the region, in October we decided to investigate the situation with PCR testing.

From the statistical data it can be seen that the problem mostly concerns the Donetsk region, where the balance of untested samples on October 23 reached the mark of 6490 units. As of November 4, this figure was reduced to 2,425. The average daily capacity of all laboratories involved in October was about 1,393, including state and municipal – 937, while the average revenue – 1,295. 362 of them were in the regional laboratory center, and the last number of the all remaining was only 47.

In terms of the detection rate, both oblasts are very far from the 5% set by the World Health Organization (WHO): 30% for Donetsk oblast and 22% for Luhansk oblast. This can usually indicate not only the prevalence of the virus in the general population, but also selective testing, which may not cover many people with mild symptoms and asymptomatic disease.

One of the indicators that allows us to estimate the coverage of testing is the number of tests per 100,000 population. It is difficult to establish the exact population of the government-controlled territory of Ukraine (GCTU) in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, but the approximate number can be calculated by subtracting the number of people living in the uncontrolled territory (data from so-called authorities) from the total population of the oblasts. So, we come to 71 per 100,000 in Luhansk region and 75 – in Donetsk. A comparison with the indicators of neighboring countries (see table below) and the national indicator indicates that even taking into account the population, the number of tests performed is too small.

What can be done?

One of the first suggestions / recommendations that comes to mind is to open the new laboratories. According to the Donetsk Regional State Administration’s health department, the region needs at least four more such facilities. It is estimated that the cost of re-equipping the laboratory alone can reach several million hryvnias (1, 2, 3). In addition, it is necessary to train staff. Under favorable circumstances, the time required to open a laboratory can be approximately 2-3 months.

Among the more immediate proposals put forward by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine (MOH) were:

  • Use priority systems, which did not change the situation significantly, because among the 2,425 untested samples in Donetsk laboratories, 1,862 were of the first degree of priority.
  • Redirect to less busy labs. Used repeatedly. Although, given the rapid spread of coronavirus, chronic under-testing at the national level and the fact that the residue problem still remains, this option is clearly not a reliable solution.
  • Test less. The Ministry of Health tried to reduce the workload of laboratories by limiting testing to three groups of people: suspected disease, confirmed diagnosis, and contact persons with symptoms. Thus, the short-term result was proposed to be achieved through a long-term containment strategy.
  • Involve private laboratories. Almost 100 million hryvnias were allocated for this. On the most productive day in October, 1950 samples were processed in the Donetsk region, 54% of them by private laboratories. At today’s commercial rates, the allocated funds could be enough for three months of such cooperation, but this amount is allocated for the whole country. In addition, testing in private laboratories costs more than in public and communal ones. So, in the long run, it is unclear to what extent the private sector will be able to meet the needs, whether there will be enough money for it and whether it is the optimal investment.
  • Use the new rapid antigen tests recommended by the WHO. Their accuracy is expected to be comparable to PCR testing. The Ministry of Health assures that 800,000 will be purchased and delivered in the near future. However, so far such tests are available only in private laboratories at a price of 800 UAH.

Meanwhile, Right to Protection decided to focus on the needs of existing institutions and find out how to increase their capacity. Looking at the reporting of laboratories, the most obvious is the continuation of full-scale work on weekends and holidays, when the number of processed samples is significantly reduced or drops to zero. Although the implementation of this decision may be complicated by the lack of the required number of qualified personnel. So our monitors contacted the labs directly to find out how to increase capacity (see average and maximum power for 7 days on November 4).

As it turned out, many employees at the Luhansk Laboratory Center are currently simply ill. Mariupol City Hospital № 4 may well perform up to 600 tests per day, depending on the needs of the city, given that last week almost 260 tests were performed per day, it turns out that there was no special need. At the same time, in the newest Kramatorsk laboratory there is often a shortage of electricity.

In general, the reserves to increase capacity include:

  • Process automation. This is expected to give the largest increase in the number of analyzes performed. In the Toretsk branch of the regional laboratory center (RLC), for example, an automatic sample preparation station (ASPS) was installed, which will soon allow up to 270 tests per day. ASPS in the Mariupol branch of RLC has failed, in case of its restoration productivity can be doubled. Installing its own ASPS in the Kramatorsk branch of the RLC could increase the number of tests per day to 400.
  • Introduction of an automated reporting system. It is currently being implemented only in the laboratory of the Donetsk Regional Center for AIDS Prevention and Control. The Mariupol and Kramatorsk branches of the RLC and the laboratory of the Mariupol City Hospital № 4 (LMCH) emphasized that currently manual data entry into a computer takes a long time.
  • Staffing and organization of the work process. All laboratories, except LMCH, need more specialists, usually biologists, bacteriologists and immunologists. In the Mariupol branch of the RLC there is an opportunity to arrange an additional job, which requires an increase in staff by 3 people. The Toretsk branch of the RLC pointed out the overcrowding of its two specialists, and the expansion of the staff would make it possible to organize work in two shifts. At the State Securities Commission, specialists are not only forced to work overtime, but also do not yet receive additional payments for the risks of working with COVID-19, so it is difficult to motivate them to work in two shifts.

The voiced needs of laboratories can be found in the table below.

This study was made possible by the significant support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Responsibility for the content rests on the Right to Protection and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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