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Even in times of war, Ukraine remains a host country for refugees – foreigners who, even before 24 February, fled hostilities, wars and political or religious persecution here. Citizens of Syria, Afghanistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Iran and other countries around the world have sought (and continue to seek) protection in Ukraine.

Agzam* was one of those whom fate made a fugitive. And his entire family – his wife and four children – as well. In his home country of Kazakhstan, Aghzam was an active member of a religious Islamic organisation persecuted by the country’s authorities. The man was prosecuted in Kazakhstan for his religious beliefs: he was considered a criminal there only on the basis of his peaceful religious views.

“Before the official verdict was handed down, I managed to leave the country and take my family with me. We ended up in Ukraine, where we asked for international protection,” he recalls.

Agzam is now 45 years old. Due to his health problems, with his first disability group, he needs constant monitoring by specialists and treatment.

Friends from his religious organisation, who were also seeking protection in Ukraine, suggested that the man could turn to the Right to Protection for help – as a human rights organisation that has been supporting refugees from all over the world for many years.

“The man approached us in 2020, and since then we have accompanied his migration case. In two years, he has twice been refused recognition as a refugee or as a person in need of complementary protection by the State Migration Service. We went to court twice, proving that his family could not return to his homeland because he was facing imprisonment there because of religious persecution. We gathered the necessary package of documents with evidence and information about the country of origin and details of the criminal case against Agzam in Kazakhstan. Eventually, in the summer of 2022, the Lviv District Administrative Court ordered the State Migration Service to recognise Aghzam as a refugee or a person in need of complementary protection in Ukraine,” said Anton Maksymov, lawyer with the Right to Protection Foundation.

After years of wandering and a long trial, Agzam and his family least expected such a decision during the martial law in Ukraine, which has already become a second home, so the news was a real blessing for them.

According to Agzam, he sees his future in Ukraine, his eldest son is doing his best to integrate. And Agzam himself is waiting to be able to benefit from the right to medical services and disability payments, which he hopes will be available once the State Migration Service makes its decision.The family hopes for the best and believes that Ukraine will win this war.

“It is very important that the judiciary in Ukraine, despite the war, continues to work because people like Agzam still need protection. For many of them, international protection in Ukraine is the only way to live a full life. This is not the first war for them, and they are seeking safety in Ukraine as a European country where human rights and international law are respected. In Agzam’s case the situation is aggravated by health problems and his inability to enjoy his rights and provide for himself,” adds Anton Maksymov.

We wish Agzam and his family health and strength, and will continue to help in all legal matters.

*Name changed at the request of the beneficiary.

UNHCR Ukraine – Aгентство ООН у справах біженців в Україні


In Autumn 2020 Armen contacted the Kharkiv office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P). His hope faded a long time ago since he had tried to get a passport or at least some document proving his identity and status for many years already.

Life without a passport and/or documents

The man signed agreements with several lawyers, yet all their attempts were unsuccessful.  When he was in total despair, the State Migration Service of Ukraine advised him to turn to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P).

Armen’s life story is full of troubles. Armenian by nationality, he was born in 1958 in Azerbaijan (back then – a soviet republic, – ed. note).

He grew up there, graduated from school, received a passport of a citizen of the USSR, and served in the Soviet Army. He was stationed in the Zhytomyr region and has since fallen in love with Ukraine, where he then moved into later in his life. After the Army, he worked in Azerbaijan, then graduated from the Kharkiv Fire and Technical School in 1985. Three years later he married and became a father of his daughter. But in 1990, due to ethnopolitical conflict, the family was forced to flee their home and, after a series of relocations, in January 1991 settled in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

A long time Armen lived with a passport of a citizen of the USSR. His wife and daughter received Ukrainian citizenship and passports, and a son was born… But Armen did not have time to obtain the passport of Ukraine, the country of which he always considered himself a citizen: in the early 2000s, all his documents were stolen. For about 20 years Armen has been living without documents.

Lawyers get to work

Analyzing the actual life circumstances described by Armen, the lawyer of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), Oksana Zhelanova, came to the conclusion that it is not technically possible to establish Armen’s Ukraine’s citizenship. Therefore, the man is a stateless person and can acquire Ukrainian citizenship by territorial origin on the basis of permanent residence in Ukraine until August 24, 1991.

Since the procedure of documenting stateless persons in Ukraine had not been working at the time of Armen’s application to the R2P, it was decided to use the waiting time and prepare for acquiring Ukrainian citizenship by territorial origin. After making a number of lawyer’s inquiries and gathering the necessary evidence, the lawyer prepared a statement to the court to establish the fact of Armen’s residence on the territory of Ukraine until August 24, 1991. In May 2021, the decision of the Zhovtnevyi District Court of Kharkiv established this fact.

Stateless Determination Procedure: A New Hope

When the procedure of documenting stateless persons was finally approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 317 and started working in full force, specialists of the Novobavarskyi branch of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region successfully accepted an application from Armen to recognize him as a stateless person.

There is still a long way to go: for the SMS it’s lots of hard work, for Armen – waiting. But Armen, who holds the first official document received in Ukraine, is already seeing the light ahead and hopes to hold the coveted passport of a country that sheltered his family, which he has considered home for many years, by the end of the year.

We will accompany him on this difficult path to the realization of a dream, and express our sincere gratitude to the employees of the State Migration Service of Ukraine – Iryna Kalyna, Tetyana Korobkova, and Natalia Kushnir for their high competence and human-centered approach in addressing the issue of statelessness.

20 років без документів. Історія Армена



Recently Ruslan Bereteli, our colleague and a lawyer, shared an interesting experience in solving a complex case of an IDP family, on which several offices of the R2P were working simultaneously:

Руслан Беретелі про становище та права ромської спільноти в Україні

«With the beginning of the new year, we are gradually closing the cases that were inherited from the last year. We are currently working on obtaining a passport for an elderly man who lost it when he tried to solve the issue with his pension, as well as on registration of custody of a minor child for a large family from Krasnohorivka. But there is one particular case that has already been successfully completed, and it gives hope for an equally productive and eventful year. After all, thanks to such cases, not only do people receive much-needed help, but we also have a basis for thinking about law enforcement practice,»

– Ruslan tells.

Recently a woman who moved from Donetsk to Mariupol recently asked us for help with the issue of registering an internally displaced person (IDP) in the interests of her minor son, who is a child with a disability. She was also interested in obtaining the relevant certificate.

The lack of appropriate status could be an obstacle to passing the necessary medical examinations to confirm the child’s disability and receive the necessary medical and sanatorium treatment in the Government-controlled areas of Ukraine. After many years of treatment, the son of our beneficiary has only recently started to walk on his own. In addition, this child with disabilities is not the only one in the family.

The main “stumbling block” for Ukrainian officials was that the guy, after obtaining a passport of a citizen of Ukraine, was not registered at the place of residence in his city in the occupied territories, and thus, he could not prove that he had lived there permanently since the beginning of the armed conflict and that he left only in October 2021. It should be noted that the mother and the youngest son were registered and received IDP certificates, and the eldest son, who lived with them permanently, was left without a certificate.

During the meeting with a specialist of one of the local units of the social protection service, officials have categorically and in oral form refused to register the child as an Internally Displaced Person because they “did not see” evidence of a child’s permanent residence at the Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCA). According to the law, they had to take the documents to work, after which, within 15 days, they must have made an informed written legal decision in accordance with the documents, provided by the applicant, which confirms the fact of a residence in the occupied territory.

After this happened the family called the Mariupol office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) by the hotline. The boy and his mother were invited to a personal meeting, where after a thorough analysis of the situation, lawyer Galemskiy Serhiy provided advice, and the process of a legal aid provision began.

Lawyer Iryna Nikolenko submitted an application to the Department of Social Protection, provided a list of the necessary documents, and made requests to the relevant authorities to confirm the legal position in the case of our beneficiary.

The situation was further complicated by the fact that most of the documents confirming permanent residence at the NGCA were issued by the illegal authorities and were not taken into account in the decision-making.

During the daily meeting of the specialists of Mariupol and Kurakhiv offices it was found out that the colleagues who work in Mariinsky, Pokrovsky, and some other districts of Donetsk region also have had similar situations, so they decided to discuss this issue directly with the leadership of the Department of Social Protection of the Donetsk region.

Отримати статус ВПО для дитини з інвалідністю. Історія сім’ї з ТОТ

At the online meeting with the leadership of the Department of Social Protection of the Donetsk region, the lawyer of the Kurakhiv office of Bereteli Ruslan discussed this issue to develop guidelines for practical use in the field. As a result of the meeting, there was a common opinion that a well-established algorithm and an approach to solving such situations need to be created.

The head of the IDP department contacted colleagues from the education department, who confirmed the information in the electronic registers that the boy studied at a Donetsk school before the conflict, ie lived there permanently. This information and the information contained in the documents provided by the family became a sufficient basis for a decision in favor of the beneficiary.

IDP certificates provide the ability to those who desperately need them to apply for financial support from the state.

We express our sincere gratitude to the leadership of the Department of Social Protection of the Donetsk region for efficiency and lack of unnecessary bureaucracy.

Отримати статус ВПО для дитини з інвалідністю. Історія сім’ї з ТОТ

We thank our colleagues for their perseverance,
efficiency, and good heart:)


The CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) provides free legal aid
not only to the IDPs but also to the communities.

Meeting with the representatives of the amalgamated territorial communities (ATCs or “hromadas” in Ukrainian)

oday, we held an online meeting with representatives of the Hirska Civil-Military Administration. The key theme of the meeting was a search for ways to improve the quality of medical services that are provided in the community. According to Yana Omelchenko, Acting Head of the Center for Primary Health Care in Hirske city, the existing medical equipment in the hospital has failed a long time ago.

For example, the X-ray machine has been operating since the 1970s. The building of the medical institution also needs to be repaired. In fact, the community is in dire need of funds.

Thus, the representatives of the Hirska CMA wished to join the discussion of the procedure for participation in the Program for the Reconstruction of Ukraine. The program provides subsidies from the state budget for the implementation of social projects in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the area up to 25 km from the contact line. The source of the subsidy is a loan from the European Investment Bank.

Why do hromadas apply for help?

Communities need to apply for participation in the short term and include all the total estimated costs of construction projects. The leadership of the Hirska CMA faced difficulties in preparing a package of documents, so they turned for help to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), which already has the experience of working with the communities on addressing such issues.

Within the ACCESS Project which is funded by the UNHCR, we have provided general consultation on the existing fundraising opportunities to support health care in the Hirska Civil-Military Administration. In addition, the lawyers of the R2P answered the questions of Inna Demidenko, the Deputy Head of Social Affairs on the peculiarities of drafting project estimates. For our part, we also insisted on the need for the community to appeal to the Ministry of Communities and Territories Development to extend the deadline for submitting program participation proposals,

– said Yanina Rebenkova, Community Development Specialist, CF “Right to Protection” (R2P).



In December, residents of Zolote-1 (“Karbonit” mine, the Severodonetsk district of the Luhansk region of Ukraine) asked the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) for help. 

The social dental office was about to be shut down

And the problem is that this office is the only one in Zolote and the surrounding villages.

Concerned residents expressed their fears about the closure of the dental office at the Outpatient Clinic of General Practice and Family Medicine №1 in Zolote (11 Medychna Street). The dental office serves the residents of several settlements: Zolote-1, Zolote-2, Zolote-3, Zolote-4, Katerynivka, other villages, and urban-type settlements along the ‘contact line’.

Specialists of the R2P consult the residents of Zolote

According to them, the dentist Raisa Lukinichna has treated many generations of residents and has never stayed away from human misery. In addition, she is often approached by socially vulnerable groups: retirees, people with disabilities, single mothers, etc. Most of them have no physical or financial ability to get to another settlement to receive the services from a private dental clinic.

Negotiations with the Hirska CMA

Specialists of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) – Dmytro Shcherbakov, a social affairs consultant, and Nataliia Zygula, a community consultant, met with the population of Zolote-1, after which they asked Oleksiy Babchenko, Head of the Hirska Civil-Military Administration, to settle the issue and keep the dentist at the clinic.

Dental office at the Outpatient Clinic of General Practice
and Family Medicine №1 in Zolote

The most valuable reward – gratitude from the residents

The next day we were informed that the head of the Hirska CMA decided to keep the dental office. Raisa Lukinichna, the dentist, confirmed that the office, which had already been sealed, had reopened and she now continues to receive patients. Meanwhile the residents of Zolote, Zolote-1, -2, -3, -4, Katerynivka, Orikhove, Novotoshkivske have sent this Thank-You Letter to us:

«We express our respect and sincere gratitude to You for taking care of the problems of the people of our region who have found themselves in a difficult situation due to the hostilities. With Your help, together we have defended our right to a dental office. In such a difficult time, when more and more people need care, it is difficult to find a person who can solve other people’s problems as their own. And there are people to whom you can safely trust your tasks. Thank You for Your work, for Your efforts! Good luck and all the best!»

On behalf of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), we would like to express our sincere gratitude to Oleksiy Babchenko, the Chairman of the Hirska CMA, and the residents of Zolote for fruitful cooperation and their active citizenship.

Our specialists will continue to work on solving the problems of the communities to help improve access to health care for the residents of the villages and areas near the contact line.



Every single day the specialists of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) face various violations of human rights, the rights that are fundamental and enshrined at the international level. The people face such violations in every corner of the world, regardless of the place of residence, nationality, or religion.

Today we will tell the story of Lida (name changed) who came to Ukraine from Iran to study.

The girl saw the world for the first time and realized that the European worldview is closer to her, that she does not want to be “sold” to her future husband, and that she wants to choose her own path. But what she did is not allowed and is punished by death in Iran, her home country. So she sought protection where she sees her future and feels safe.

However, as it turned out, finding protection and asylum in Ukraine is not so easy.

For the whole year, the girl was visiting the territorial department of the State Migration Service to receive the status of a refugee or a person in need of complementary protection, but each time she encountered a new obstacle.  Neither the impeccably completed application, nor the notarized translation of the passport and other documents, nor her attempts to obtain supporting documents from the university helped.

Each time Lida received a new recommendation to correct something in her application, bring documents, redo photos, etc.  And every time she left the migration service, she cried and wanted to give up. One day, while being in total despair, she turned to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P).

Коли рідна країна не дозволяє вірити по іншому. Історія Ліди, шукачки захисту з Ірану

«We have provided Lida with all the necessary advice and helped to gather the whole package of documents. With our legal and moral support, the young Iranian girl was able to apply successfully and is now documented by the Certificate of Application for Protection in Ukraine. The first step is finished. And for Lida, this is a huge step forward after a whole year of unsuccessful attempts. For our part, we are preparing to continue her case, including in court,»

– said Olena Rychko, a lawyer at the R2P.

The Project “Legal Assistance to Refugees and Asylum Seekers” is implemented by the
Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) with the financial support
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Contact us if you require legal aid. Our hotline numbers are listed below.
All services provided by the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) are free of charge.



    What will you do if you suddenly become a foreigner in your home country and start receiving violent threats because of your political views? The only logical step in such a situation is to run away. And this is exactly what Natalia, a refugee from Belarus did (ed.note – name changed due to safety concerns). The woman arrived in Ukraine in August 2020 due to political pressure from the Belarusian authorities. She was forced to do so.

    The salvation for her was obtaining refugee status in Ukraine. The woman turned to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) for help, where she received essential legal aid.

    The lawyers of the organization helped Natalia to fill in all the necessary documents and submit them to the State Migration Service for consideration.

    Олександра Журко

    “The applicant received all the necessary information about the refugee recognition procedure in Ukraine and was assisted in filling in the documents and providing evidence. Due to quarantine restrictions, she was unable to apply to the migration service within the statutory deadline, but due to her persistence and the legal consultations from R2P, on the last day of Ms.Natalia’s legal stay in Ukraine the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU) accepted her application,”

    – said Oleksandra Zhurko, the Manager of the R2P Project “Legal Assistance to Refugees and Asylum Seekers”.

    Finally, Ms. Natalia’s application was approved and the SMSU decided to recognize her as a refugee in Ukraine.

    This was a difficult path and lots of hard work, but together with Ms. Natalia, we were able to make it real.

    The Project “Legal Assistance to Refugees and Asylum Seekers” is implemented by the
    Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) with the financial support
    of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    Contact us if you require legal aid. Our hotline numbers are listed below.
    All services provided by the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) are free of charge.



    For a long time, the Charitable Fund ”Right to Protection” (R2P) has been supporting communities near the contact line. Yesterday our colleagues Yevhen Maksymenko, the lawyer, and Ketevan Kazanovska, the expert on the social and political issues, took part in a meeting of the working group to determine the social needs of the population of Svitlodars’k city amalgamated territorial community (ATC).

    Tetyana Yerokhina, the Chairman of the working group and the Deputy Head of Svitlodars’k City Civil-Military Administration (CMA), thanked the R2P for developing the Social Passport of Svitlodars’k ATC and for the legal aid during the reorganization of the municipal institution (Bakhmut District Territorial Center for Social Services) in the Center for Social Services of Svitlodars’k CMA.

    Also during the meeting there was a discussion on:

    • the social services legal framework in the context of the amalgamated territorial communities;
    • the base principles of the working group and the on the work plan for 2022;
    • the logic of interaction of the structural departments of the Svitlodars’k CMA with the social service entities, NGOs, and CSOs in the process of determining the social needs of the population.

    The legal aid is provided within the framework of the project ”Support of the amalgamated territorial communities along the contact line during the reorganization of social and administrative services under the decentralization reform”, which is implemented in the Donetsk and the Luhansk regions by the CF ”Right to Protection” (R2P) with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).



    One may not call the situation “easy” when a person is not recognized as a citizen of any country in the world, has no documents and even legal right to stay on the territory of Ukraine, despite the fact of living here for a long time. However, lawyers of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) are not afraid of any “difficult cases” and never refuse to help beneficiaries.

    For the past year, the specialists of the R2P Team have helped 94 undocumented persons to apply to the State Migration Service of Ukraine for the stateless determination procedure (SDP). We still continue to work with all of them, as this is only the first step in a complex and lengthy procedure. Nevertheless, these people now can stay on the territory of Ukraine legally and at least have some documents.

    Statelessness: Ukraine became the 21st country in the world and the 15th in Europe to establish a separate Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP) Без громадянства: Україна cтала 21-ю країною в світі і 15-ю — в Європі, яка має окрему процедуру визнання ОБГ

    “The goal of our Project is to prevent and eliminate statelessness. In other words, applying to the SMS of Ukraine is just the beginning of a long journey that a person begins with our help. Seven of our beneficiaries have already been granted stateless status and documented by temporary residence permits in Ukraine. The next steps are to obtain a permanent residence permit and in the future – acquire Ukrainian citizenship. So we continue to work with them, “

    – says Sofiia Kordonets, Manager of the R2P Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine”.

    Consideration of an application for stateless status lasts 6 months and can be extended up to 12 months. The result should be the granting or denial of a status.

    In Ukraine, the procedure is relatively new (the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers came into force only in April 2021), so as of now there were no precedents of refusals, as well as cases of fines for illegal stay in Ukraine.

    status Як звернутися з заявою про визнання особою без громадянства?

    In total, by the end of 2021, 728 applications for recognition as stateless persons were received by the State Migration Service within Ukraine.