HIAS in Ukraine

Originally established in 2003 to assist Jewish migrants emigrating from Ukraine to the United States, HIAS’ presence today is through a partnership with Right to Protection (R2P), an independent Ukrainian NGO based in Kyiv. R2P monitors and advocates for improvements in the legal and regulatory framework affecting internally displaced people (IDPs), the conflict affected refugees, asylum seekers, and the stateless, while identifying gaps and developing solutions in light of the real needs and specific problems of these persons in Ukraine.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are at least 1,700,000 internally displaced people in Ukraine, approximately 35,000 stateless persons, more than 6,000 asylum seekers and over 3,000 recognized refugees. A majority of refugees and asylum seekers in Ukraine are from Afghanistan, but refugees also originate from thirty other countries including Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Somalia. An increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers in Ukraine originate from the former Soviet Union.


As a result of the Russian incursion to Crimea and the ongoing armed conflict in East Ukraine, more than a million Ukrainian citizens have fled to Ukrainian-controlled territory. In partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the government of Ukraine, HIAS supports R2P’s monitoring of the situation to ensure the rights and safety of the displaced and advocates for the creation of a comprehensive legal framework for them.

R2P provides legal counseling and translation services to aid refugees through the long and difficult process of applying for asylum in Ukraine. It also represents those seeking asylum in Ukraine’s court system with expertise in assisting unaccompanied child asylum seekers.

Additionally, R2P works to reform the post-Soviet system to become more humane toward refugees, IDPs, and the stateless, and to establish procedures and policies that are in line with the country’s international commitments.


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