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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.