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Recently in Europe a week dedicated to discussing the rights of refugees and the challenges they face took place. Human rights defenders from different countries shared experiences and worked out new strategies for advocating the rights of those people. Representatives from Ukraine and, in particular, from R2P have been participants in these discussions for a long time, for our Foundation is a member of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

On June 15th Svitlana Butenko, the Legal Assistance to Refugees and Asylum Seekers Programme Manager of R2P, took part in the ECRE Annual General Conference 2023 in Turin. She held a workshop entitled “Implementation of Directives on Temporary Protection Preparing for Long-term Solution Contemporary Analysis in EU Countries”. Svitlana Butenko shared the results of a research concerning  the situation of refugees who have left the territory of Ukraine after the beginning of the invasion and now are living in EU countries. Together with our partner – HIAS, we found that about 40% of our beneficiaries (asylum seekers, refugees, persons in need of complementary protection) could not get temporary protection, or  face significant delays in receiving it in EU countries. Most of these people – refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, CIS countries – went to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France.

“We researched the legislation of the EU countries in this area and found out that the problem, obviously, is connected with documents that these people have or do not have”, – said Svitlana Butenko.

The purpose of her workshop was to draw the attention of our colleagues – human rights defenders in Europe to the problems, and causes that had been identified and to help them to find effective tools to support these people.

Besides, the conference has become a great platform for sharing experiences with partners who also face difficulties advocating for refugee rights. With partners from Poland, it was possible to discuss in detail both the problem of crossing the border for refugees recognized in Ukraine and the ways to overcome the restriction on applying for protection at the borders. Our partners from Hungary shared their formula of advocacy in the absence of support from the state and society. And the partners from Germany commented with interest on our study on access to temporary protection for refugees recognized in Ukraine.

“Ukraine is currently on the path to European integration. The task of human rights organizations is to study international standards and the practice of their application in European countries in order to choose the optimal formula for their implementation in the future. Such conferences are a step towards meeting the EU standards”, – added Svitlana Butenko. 


On June 30, Kyiv hosted the National round table “Development of social services during the war: challenges and opportunities” which held the R2P as a partner of the Ukraine Response Consortium coordinated by ACTED. The program is undertaken with the financial support of the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance USAID (BHA).

Representatives of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, the National Social Service of Ukraine, territorial communities, international, national and local non-governmental organizations, social workers, social service providers discussed the development of social services during wartime.

Opening the round table, Nadiya Kovalchuk, program director of the R2P, told about the humanitarian and human rights activities of the R2P in 22 regions of Ukraine and the program of social services and social protection, which appeared and implemented by the R2P in connection with an unrealistic burden on the social sphere and the number of people in difficult life circumstances who need support due to the challenges of war.

“It is very important for us that we make this contribution to support people and that today in this circle there are representatives of government, local self-government, territorial communities and civil society who are ready to make sure that the social sphere is able to give an answer and support our people in these difficult times”.

Catherine Vizcaino, coordinator of the Response Consortium, also addressed the participants of the event, who spoke about the history of the Consortium, cooperation of partners, the implementation of the project and multi-industry assistance programs.

“We are pleased to partner with the R2P and will continue to do everything possible to help as many people as possible in Ukraine”.

Ulyana Tokareva, Deputy Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, spoke about the restart of the social sphere by the Government of Ukraine as a mechanism for responding to the challenges caused by the war. Tatyana Laktionova, Deputy Head of the National Social Service of Ukraine, outlined the prospects for the implementation of state policy in the field of social services.

The event became an important platform for determining priority areas for reforming the state policy in the field of social services, sharing experiences and ideas on the challenges and opportunities for social service of people in territorial communities, as well as developing recommendations for improving the system of social services under martial law and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.


In 2021, R2P provided legal assistance to 1,553 refugees and asylum seekers inside Ukraine and supported their social and economic inclusion in Ukrainian society. 

In 2022, after the full-scale invasion, R2P continued to deliver aid to the refugees and asylum seekers. The state policy towards this vulnerable category of population was already disagreeable and had significant implementation gaps but over the past year, the situation has worsened. 

R2P shed light on the current situation of asylum seekers and refugees in its report Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Ukraine Addressing Protection Risks During Wartime. According to a survey conducted for the report and practice of the R2P lawyers, these persons lack effective access to the asylum procedure inside Ukraine, people unable to apply for protection are faced with fines, deportation, or detention for “irregular stay”; some number of the R2P beneficiaries are unable to leave Ukraine as well as return to Ukraine after they fled to the EU.

In addition, the recently adopted Ukraine Law 2952-IX, passed in February 2023, brings significant changes to the country’s migration and asylum legislation. These amendments primarily focus on areas such as suspending the possibility to apply for asylum at the border.

The attempts of the R2P to conduct a productive dialogue to address the worrying issues have not given meaningful outcomes. The R2P envisages pursuing efforts to bring attention to the hurdles of asylum seekers and refugees using the legal framework, advocacy and support of its national and international partners. Among the priorities are inducing the Ombudsman to file a constitutional complaint against Law 2952-IX. 

Therefore, together with other human rights organizations, we have prepared a public statement, which, we hope, can become an effective tool in this direction. You can read more in the document at the link below.


R2P has been included in the Register of providers and recipients of social services. It means that now the government officially recognizes social workers of the R2P as providers of such services.  

All organizations that provide social services must work in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “About Social Services”, meet the criterias for the activities of social service providers and be included in the Register of providers and recipients of social services. In order to be included in it, you must meet several criterias and complete the appropriate  registration.

“We wanted to become officially recognized by the government as providers of social services, as this provides a mechanism for the transparency of the market of providers of such services. Thanks to the existence of the Register, the government and social protection authorities have access to information about all social service providers. This allows us to urgently and qualitatively satisfy the needs of the people,” – said Olha Nosova, coordinator of the social protection of the R2P. 

Inclusion in the Register also contributes to the distribution of information about the available social services provided by the R2P, and will facilitate easier access to them by such intermediaries as government and local government offices who may be looking for resources to help people.

Social services – are actions aimed at preventing difficult life situations, overcoming such situations or minimizing their negative consequences for individuals/families who are in them. 

Services included in the Register from the social protection program of the R2P:

  • informing;
  • consultancy;
  • representation of interests (conducting negotiations on behalf of the recipient of social services, help in drafting or restoring documents, etc.); 
  • social prevention (a complex of actions aimed at preventing, limiting and stopping negative social phenomena and their consequences);
  • physical accompaniment of people with disabilities who have musculoskeletal disorders and move around in wheelchairs, with intellectual, sensory, physical, motor, mental and behavioral disorders;
  • transport services (in Kyiv region, Kryvyi Rih, Pavlograd, Chernivtsi region);
  • social support of families/persons in difficult life circumstances (in Chernihiv and Sumy regions).

Besides the above services, there are 6 social services, which are included in the Register and will be implemented by social workers R2P: 

  • social support during employment and at the workplace (help in the adaptation of a person to the work, arrangement of the workplace for persons with disabilities);
  • social adaptation (training, formation and development of social skills, correction of behavior in everyday life);
  • social integration and reintegration (correction of behavior in everyday life, help in strengthening/restoring family and socially beneficial ties); 
  • care at home (for the elderly and persons/children with disabilities), help in self-care, movement in household conditions, help in organizing interaction with other specialists and services, help in providing technical means for rehabilitation;
  • sign language translation (translation of sign language and verbal language for persons with hearing and speech impairments during their visit to some administrative institutions, social, medical, educational and other institutions); 
  • emergency (crisis) intervention (psychosocial first aid, consulting, informing, representation of interests, help in the organization of receiving free legal aid, asylum, etc.).

In May 2023, R2P launched the program “Economic Resilience & Early Recovery Program”.

The goal of the program is to increase the economic inclusion of vulnerable populations. The Foundation aims to boost income-generating activities through training and facilitating access to employment for vulnerable youth.

The program is implementing the project “Business skills development and encouraging economic activity of IDP youth in Dnipropetrovsk region” supported by the German government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Target audience – IDPs who have faced career difficulties after forced displacement. As well as those who wanted to find a job or become an entrepreneur. Project duration: 7 months, until the end of November 2023.

As part of the project, beneficiaries can take a career development course to develop master modern digital literacy, learn how to effectively manage finances and improve their soft skills in particular. ]

Students of the course can also receive legal advice on the current labor and employment market and career counseling on adapting to professional and career changes.

Enrollment for the training course is currently underway.

Another component of the project’s activity is the legal chatbot “Legal Advisor for IDPs” which could give comprehensive information about labor law and employment issues, and other userful legal advices for IDPs.


In May 2023, the teams of the Reinforcing Civil Protection and Preparedness for Conflict Escalation in Ukraine projects completed a series of training on civil protection for representatives of social institutions and trainings on humanitarian standards for community representatives. The project was supported by ACTED and funded by the European Union.

In particular, the following topics were discussed during the events:

  • basic humanitarian standards;
  • important segments in the civil protection system;
  • risk management; algorithm of actions in case of emergency; community forces and means during an emergency;
  • basic steps to ensure security.

The training participants worked out the procedure for local governments to act in the event of a threat or emergency, modeling various situations, and determining the order of steps, forces, and means to ensure protection in the community.

The trainer also focused on the specifics of organizing assistance to vulnerable populations in the event of a threat or emergency. The training participants worked in teams, performed various practical tasks, presented their developments, discussed them and made suggestions, and tested their knowledge through testing.

The purpose of the events was to provide the most useful and practical information and share experience. During the course, participants were able to assess their own emergency preparedness, identify and analyze gaps and understand how they can be addressed. A total of 35 events were held, with more than 700 participants. These figures were three times higher than planned.


The experts of the Right to Protection with the support of the UNHCR conducted a two-days training for the employees of the Ombudsman’s Office concerning the rights of stateless persons, asylum seekers and refugees on June 25 and 26 in Kyiv. 

The violation of the rights of the people we work with forces us to look for different ways of solving this problem. One of the ways to do it is to appeal to the Ombudsman. That is why the purpose of such a training is not only to inform about the problems faced by refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, but also to work together for solving them and preventing the emergence of new ones.

The training was attended by fifteen employees of the Secretariat and the regional offices of the Ukrainian Ombudsman. For better assimilation of the acquired knowledge, our employees prepared practical tasks for the participants.

The first day of training was dedicated to the issues of refugees and asylum seekers in Ukraine. In particular, we talked about the difficulties these people are facing. Among them there are difficulties with access to the procedure of application for protection, violation of the procedure of forced return and deportation, crossing the border, etc. In addition, our experts together with UNHCR representatives explained the basic provisions of Ukraine’s international obligations in the international protection area.

Svitlana Butenko, Programme Manager of the R2P project “Legal Assistance to Refugees and Asylum Seekers” said:

“During a full-scale invasion, those people who are seeking protection in Ukraine became even more vulnerable. Martial law presented new challenges both to them and to us as their defenders. Currently, an appeal to the Ombudsman should become an effective tool for restoring the violated rights of protection seekers. That was the main reason for us to conduct such a training”.

The second day of the training was dedicated to the issue of statelessness in Ukraine, discussing its consequences and the experience of eradicating statelessness. Our experts also shared international practices for identifying such persons.

“The procedure for recognizing a stateless person in Ukraine is still quite new and requires a lot of attention from state authorities, human rights organizations and the Ombudsman office. It is also worth noting that stateless persons cannot be deprived of their right to official recognition and regulation of their status because of the war”, – added Sofia Kordonets, Legal Assistance to Stateless Population Program Manager of R2P.

Training participants repeatedly noted the high level of preparation of both theoretical issues and practical tasks. The speakers also noted the activity of the participants during the training.

We hope that such meetings will help to solve the problems faced by refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons in Ukraine much faster and more effectively.


On May 30 experts of the Right to Protection with the support of the UNHCR held a round table in Dnipro on the implementation of the rights of stateless persons during the procedure of recognition as a stateless person.

The event was attended by employees of regional offices of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights and regional legal aid centers in Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Anastasia Koval, a legal analyst of the project on providing legal assistance to stateless persons of the Right to Protection, said:

“The purpose of such meetings is to exchange experience in providing legal assistance to stateless persons, accompanying and receiving applications from these persons. We also hope that the organization of such events will help identify problems in this area and we will be able to find ways to solve them”. 

During the round table, the participants discussed all the features of the stateless person recognition procedure, legal regulation and practical aspects of accompanying people during this process.

A psychologist, who works with vulnerable categories of persons also took part in the event. He explained in an interactive format how to properly and easily find a common language with stateless people. Also, he emphasized on the personal emotional and psychological state of workers, who deal with vulnerable categories of people.

The participants of the event took an active part in the discussion of problematic issues and tried to find possible ways of further cooperation between state authorities and representatives of the R2P to provide effective assistance to stateless persons.

We hope that such meetings will help ensure the realization of the rights of stateless persons in Ukraine much faster and more effectively, including during access to the procedure of recognition as a stateless person.


The full-scale invasion changed not only the lives of Ukrainians, but also those who sought refuge in our country. For a long time, Ukraine has been both a transit and a destination country for people fleeing persecution and violence in other parts of the world. In 2021, approximately 5,000 asylum seekers and refugees were seeking refuge in Ukraine or in transit to the EU. However, on February 24, they found themselves among millions of internally displaced people and facing wartime threats inside the country.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Ukraine, 1,283 of Ukraine’s registered asylum seekers fled the country in the first half of 2022. This means up to 75% of the asylum seeker and refugee population may still be inside the country, where they are particularly at risk.

What difficulties do they face during wartime? How can these problems be overcome?

The R2P provides answers to these questions in the report,  prepared in cooperation with our partner HIAS – “Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Ukraine Addressing Protection Risks During Wartime”. It combines the findings of a R2P and HIAS survey of 168 asylum seekers and  refugees (many of whom were or are beneficiaries of R2P), research, written submissions from other nongovernmental organisations, and insights from  UNHCR Ukraine, to portray the protection challenges this population faces.

Key findings highlighted in the report:

  • There is no effective access to the asylum procedure inside Ukraine, yet people unable to apply for protection are faced with fines, deportation, or detention for “irregular stay.”  
  • Two-thirds of the respondents to the survey said they were unable to leave Ukraine, usually due to a lack of documents. More than one-quarter were not able to move freely within the country. 
  • Asylum seekers and refugees who have fled the country face significant difficulties returning, preventing family reunification.  
  • Without ID and travel documents, people are unable to access healthcare and humanitarian aid or secure affordable housing. 
  • Roughly one in five of the respondents in the survey said they faced discrimination in Ukraine.

You can read the full version of the report below. This report recommends constructive actions that the Ukrainian authorities, international organisations, governments, and donors can take to better support asylum seekers and refugees in the country.