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.