The majority of citizens of Ukraine arrived in Belarus in 2014-2015 and remain in the country on the basis of permits for permanent residence and permits for temporary residence.
They seek asylum to obtain complementary protection (granted to all Ukrainians arriving from Donbas region) and, as a result, be entitled to free of charge medical treatment provided by state healthcare institutions.
The main reason for Ukrainians’ applications for asylum in Belarus: threat to live and physical safety due to ongoing internal war conflict in Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.
As a response strategy, UNHCR Office in Belarus developed the following directions of work:
- Monitoring new arrivals from Ukraine with emphasis on identification of the most vulnerable and their referrals to the relevant services.
- Meeting basic needs, including medical treatment, of the most vulnerable Ukrainian persons of concern with the help of UNHCR assistance programme, which is administered by the Belarusian Red Cross Society and includes provision of monthly allowance and one-time emergency payments.
- Providing free of charge legal counselling on the issues related to the state refugee status determination procedure and, if necessary, assistance with applications for asylum.
- Ensuring advocacy and lobbying with state authorities to foster favorable conditions for Ukrainians in the field of employment, medical treatment, social welfare, education, as well as facilitated receipt of various types of residence permits.
- Introducing legislative changes relating, among other, to provision of medical services free of charge and on a par with citizens of Belarus (came into force in July 2017).