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 with offices across Ukraine, (including in government-controlled areas of Donbas, East Ukraine). R2P provides legal assistance as well as monitors and advocates for improvements in the legal and regulatory framework affecting internally displaced people (IDPs); conflict-affected persons residing in or near non-government controlled territories; refugees; asylum seekers; and stateless persons.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are at least 1,500,000 internally displaced people in Ukraine, approximately 35,000 stateless persons, more than 6,000 asylum seekers, and over 2,600 recognized refugees.  A majority of refugees and asylum seekers in Ukraine are from Afghanistan, Syria, the former Soviet Union, Iraq, and Somalia, but refugees also originate from thirty other countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Somalia. 


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 UNHCR and the government of Ukraine, HIAS supports R2P’s monitoring of the situation to ensure the rights and safety of the displaced, legal assistance, and advocacy for the creation of a comprehensive legal framework for them.

R2P advocates for and provides legal counseling and translation services to refugees to help them 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. R2P develops the Ukrainian civil society by building the capacity of grassroots community-based organizations in East Ukraine. As part of the community-based protection R2P works with various communities of IDPs, stateless, and refugees through legal awareness trainings. R2P invests a lot of effort to improve the performance of the Ukrainian government on migration-related rights issues and service provision.

Key numbers from 2018 include:

•    98,166 people interviewed during 5,123 monitoring visits to 566 unique locations 

•    35,856 IDPs and conflict-affected persons received legal or protection assistance

•    20,476 IDPs and conflict-affected persons received 26,467 instances of legal assistance, including 4,021 instances of secondary legal assistance and 2,216 court cases  

•    24,624 IDPs and conflict affected persons received consultation on protection issues

•    721 successful strategic case judgements at various levels of Ukraine’s court system

•    321 group legal awareness and counseling sessions for 5,965 people

•    429 stateless and persons at risk of statelessness received legal assistance

•    1,638 refugees and asylum seekers provided with legal assistance including 671 newcomers, and 41 unaccompanied minors 

HIAS’s services are free. If someone tries to charge you for services claiming they represent HIAS, please report it at our confidential email address: ethics@hias.org. HIAS has a zero-tolerance policy on fraud and corruption. 

For any other inquiries please email us at info@hias.org.