In 2003 HIAS established an office in Kiev to provide legal protection services to refugees who have fled to Ukraine from more than 30 nations, but primarily from Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria. We are the only refugee agency in Ukraine that refers resettlement cases to the U.S. directly.
HIAS provides legal counseling and translation services to aid refugees through the long and difficult process of applying for asylum in Ukraine. We also represent those seeking asylum in Ukraine’s court system and we have expertise assisting unaccompanied child asylum seekers.
HIAS intervenes with authorities on behalf of refugees because Ukrainian policies often limit refugees’ access to protection and social services.
HIAS also works on improving the legal environment for many thousands of stateless individuals in Ukraine by providing direct legal aid and advocating for their rights.
HIAS uses strategic cases in Ukrainian and European courts to help establish a stronger asylum framework for the country.
As the result of the Russian incursion to Crimea and the ongoing armed conflict in the Southeast, close to 1,000,000 Ukrainian citizens have fled to the Ukrainian mainland (as of early 2015) and the number is still growing. In partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the government of Ukraine, HIAS monitors the situation to ensure the rights and safety of the displaced and advocates for the creation of a comprehensive legal framework for them.
In Ukraine HIAS works to reform a dysfunctional post-Soviet system to become more humane toward refugees and to establish procedures and policies that are in line with the country’s international commitments. We train local judges, law students, and immigration and law-enforcement officials.
We also help the government draft appropriate legislation and administrative regulations. Together with UNHCR, we took a leadership role in helping draft a new law that is consistent with the 1951 Refugee Convention and a new comprehensive migration policy.