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“I’m afraid that if I decided to leave I wouldn’t be able to cross checkpoints or borders because I don’t have documents. I’m also very scared they’d separate me from my children because I have no proof that I’m their mother,” – Svitlana Goncharova, a stateless person, one of our beneficiaries, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The woman is in Sumy and due to the lack of any documents she was afraid to leave the shelling, staying with her two children in the basement. Read about how she and her children are going through this difficult time and about life without citizenship in this Thomson Reuters Foundation article.

The Right to Protection Charitable Foundation deals with the problems of stateless people and at risk of statelessness in Ukraine. According to Sofia Kordonets, the foundation’s project manager, although neighbouring countries had their borders opened, only a few cases are known of stateless people being able to leave Ukraine (some of whom had expired Soviet passports). Stateless persons face great obstacles in finding accommodation and assistance if they decide to move around the country, it is difficult for them to go abroad and there is a high probability that they may never be able to return.

«Перше питання, як “The first question they ask us is often not “how can I leave?” but “how can I return?” – Sofia notes.

War puts the undocumented person in very difficult circumstances. Even in peacetime, a person without an identity document is restricted in their freedom of movement, and the fear of being detained is common for such people. Undocumented stateless persons (OBG) in Ukraine live with this fear for decades and sometimes their entire lives.

Right to Protection beneficiaries without identity documents are hesitant to move from dangerous war-torn regions in particular because of this fear. Forced into permanent life-long restrictions, they now find themselves trapped in dangerous localities and without the possibility of receiving assistance. Their only hope is the volunteers who are now working at the edge of possibility!

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are approximately 35,000 people with undetermined citizenship and statelessness in Ukraine. As there is no official and accurate data, so there may be more of these people. Some people do not have any documents, while at the same time they try to live, fighting for the right to a full life and even associating themselves with our state.

The Right to Protection does everything possible to help these people to continue their attempts to be documented and provides the necessary information and assistance.

Photo: Emma Batha, Thomson Reuters Foundation.