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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Ukraine


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Ukraine

1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Build capacity of Ukrainian authorities and NGOs; provide emergency assistance; promote citizenship for formerly deported peoples; rehabilitate shelters; create income-generating activities; and help build tolerance.

Who we help

Some 5,000 refugees and asylum-seekers (3,000 of whom are recognized by the Ukrainian Government), 260,000 formerly deported peoples, of whom 250,000 are Crimean Tatars.

Our requirements

US$ 5,077,835

Our offices

Kyiv, Simferopol.

Our partners

Department of Migration, State Committee for Nationalities and Migration, Department of Migration in Crimea, Department of Migration in Zakarpatye, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Presidential Administration, Oil Refinery Hospital, Kyiv Charity Foundation, Several Other National NGOs.


Since becoming independent in late 1991, Ukraine has struggled to manage a complex and unprecedented migration phenomenon. The country now hosts some 1.4 million returnees, primarily ethnic Ukrainians from other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and some 150,000 persons displaced as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. In addition, some 260,000 formerly deported persons and their descendants have returned to their homeland on the Crimean peninsula. As of September 1998, more than 3,000 persons, mostly from Afghanistan, have been granted refugee status by the Government.

The Government in Kyiv began conducting status determination procedures in mid-1996. Since then, the procedures have become operational in 22 of the country's 27 administrative regions. Appeal procedures were introduced in mid-1997. Large numbers of potential asylum-seekers, however, do not register with the authorities or with UNHCR, as their ultimate objective is to transit Ukraine and obtain refugee status in Western Europe.

Of the estimated 260,000 formerly deported persons who have returned to Crimea over the last decade, some 5,000 fled from conflict or former conflict zones in the CIS including Abkhazia (Georgia), the Ferghana Valley (Uzbekistan), Chechnya (Russian Federation) and Tajikistan. Many of these persons are suffering severe social and economic hardships and have been recognized by the authorities as persons living in a refugee-like situation. These people, and those who are stateless or who are in a potentially stateless situation, remain the focus of UNHCR's activities in Crimea.


UNHCR's objectives in Ukraine focus on ensuring that the basic protection and assistance needs of refugees and other persons of concern are addressed. This includes promoting durable solutions to the problem of statelessness faced by the formerly deported persons returning to Crimea. In addition, UNHCR works to assist in the development of refugee-related legislation and the operational capacity of relevant authorities; extend the implementation of refugee-related legislation to all regions of Ukraine; promote Ukraine's accession to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees; establish an effective integration mechanism/safety net for recognized refugees and vulnerable formerly deported peoples; promote implementation of the revised Ukrainian Citizenship legislation and subsequent agreement with Uzbekistan to minimize the potential for statelessness; and help build the capacities of NGOs to assist in the implementation of the Plan of Action.


While significant progress has been made in introducing status determination and appeal procedures throughout Ukraine, a number of gaps in the coverage of relevant legislation and the implementation of the procedures remain. These deficiencies should be partially addressed by revising the refugees/alien legislation which is anticipated to be approved by Parliament in early 1999. UNHCR has already provided comprehensive comments to ensure that the revised legislation meets with international standards. Following approval of the revisions, substantial resources will be required for training government officials on the new legislation and procedures.

As a result of UNHCR's work during 1997 and 1998, first-instance appeal procedures are now functioning at the level of the State Committee for Nationalities and Migration. Recent precedent-setting decisions by the Ukrainian Constitutional Court to review judgements against individuals by any government agency have opened the possibility for the court to review status determination decisions.

Local authorities obstructed plans to establish a central reception/accommodation centre for asylum-seekers in Obidivka in 1998. But, despite this setback, UNHCR, in cooperation with Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), opened a small accommodation centre in western Ukraine to assist vulnerable asylum-seekers detained in the Transcarpathia region. The relative success of this centre may indicate that a decentralized approach may be more appropriate in Ukraine. UNHCR is investigating the possibility of opening a reception centre jointly with the Odessa Migration Department.

In September 1998, UNHCR and a number of international organizations convened a regional CIS meeting to review NGO legislation and advocate revisions that would benefit NGOs in Ukraine.


Now that there is a possibility of reviewing status determination decisions in courts, UNHCR is working to create a network of asylum lawyers throughout the country. Priority will also be given to strengthening UNHCR's regional government and non-governmental counterparts during 1999. By providing technical assistance and training to the Ministry of Interior, particularly in regions outside of Kyiv, UNHCR will help overcome difficulties in registering asylum-seekers, providing proper documentation to recognized refugees and assisting with their legal integration.

Training activities for staff of the State Committee for Nationalities and Migration and the Foreigners and Passport Department (OVIR) in the Ministry of Interior will be intensified. Training will also be expanded to include border guards, militia, judges and lawyers. UNHCR will also focus on incorporating refugee issues into the regular curricula of relevant training institutions.


On average, UNHCR provides direct assistance to some 1,000 vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees every month. This assistance includes small monthly subsistence payments, integration grants for refugees, and payments for emergency medical care. Asylum-seekers and refugees can also receive assistance or counselling through UNHCR's project office in Nivki (Kyiv), the emergency accommodation centre in Transcarpathia or be referred for treatment to two hospitals (Kyiv, Simferopol). In 1999, additional accommodation centres will be established in Lviv and Odessa.

Women and Children

Approximately half of all recognized refugees are either women (12 per cent) or children (40 per cent). Almost 100 single women, most of them Afghans, benefit from direct financial assistance. UNHCR has also made arrangements with a number of public hospitals to ensure that the medical needs of the most vulnerable persons are met. In Kyiv, UNHCR's partner hospital has an Afghan (refugee) gynaecologist on staff. Arrangements have also been made for children with health problems to attend a health sanatorium for treatment.

It is expected that by late 1998 a women's social counselling/training centre will be established in the Troyeshyna region of Kyiv. The centre will be a place where women can obtain information, advice and training and where they can meet to discuss day-to-day problems among themselves. UNHCR also supports a women's refugee survey, which has provided concrete information on which to base future assistance programmes; and the agency provides supplies to women who make traditional arts and crafts. UNHCR also has a maternity care programme and has launched a women's refugee committee.

Technical assistance and support is offered to schools in which refugee children are enrolled. UNHCR also provides mother-tongue classes for Afghan children in Kyiv and Odessa and sponsors children/youth activities which are consistent with themes related to refugees. In Crimea, UNHCR initiated a major tolerance-through-arts, culture and education campaign. In late 1998 and 1999, publication of books about the benefits of multi-culturalism and diversity will help reinforce the message of tolerance through the classrooms.


The majority of asylum-seekers and refugees in Ukraine are from Afghanistan, Angola, Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Central African Republic. Continued instability in several of these countries limits the possibility of large-scale repatriation, though UNHCR assisted in the repatriation of some thirty individual cases during the course of 1998.

Reintegration of formerly deported people

UNHCR helped broker the recent agreement between Ukraine and Uzbekistan which simplified the procedures in obtaining Ukrainian citizenship for returning formerly deported people. This breakthrough in addressing the problem of statelessness means that some 60,000 formerly deported persons, who de jure possess Uzbekistan citizenship, will be eligible for the simplified procedures for affiliation to Ukrainian citizenship. The citizenship legislation was revised in 1997 in line with UNHCR recommendations.

It will be a major challenge for Ukrainian and, in particular, local Crimean, authorities to process all applications for the simplified procedure by the end of 1999 as required. UNHCR's Citizenship Campaign, which was developed with the Presidential Administration and the Ministry of Interior, will include an intensified mass information campaign, technical support to help process applications, mobile teams that will cover remote areas, and independent monitoring and legal counselling through NGOs. The first phase of UNHCR's campaign resulted in more than 7,000 formerly stateless persons acquiring Ukrainian citizenship in the first half of 1998.

To support the integration of the formerly deported peoples, particularly those in a refugee-like situation, UNHCR and the Danish Refugee Council rehabilitated some 40 communal accommodation structures and schools. Rehabilitation activities will be reduced in 1999 as greater emphasis is placed on developing self-sufficiency and on conducting the citizenship campaign.


Bureaucratic inertia, an unstable economic environment and limited experience of local NGOs restricted implementation of UNHCR's programmes in 1998. High levels of "official" as well as "unofficial" taxation and a stagnant economy have also restricted the effectiveness of credit and income-generation schemes on the mainland of Ukraine and in Crimea.

Refugee status continues to be granted for only three-month periods which are subject to extension. This severely restricts the opportunities for refugees to obtain legal employment or to secure legal accommodation. In addition, most asylum-seekers are being rejected on the basis of the "safe third country" rule. As most new arrivals transit the Russian Federation or other CIS States before entering Ukraine, it is expected that the number of rejected asylum-seekers will continue to rise, even if the asylum-seekers have sound refugee claims. As a result, more asylum-seekers may not even bother to apply for status in Ukraine and would simply continue on to Western Europe.


With the recent breakthrough in simplifying the procedures to acquire Ukrainian citizenship, it is imperative that adequate funding is provided for UNHCR's 1999 programme. Should UNHCR and the Ukrainian Government not receive sufficient support, tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars will be left stateless in one of the most volatile regions in the CIS.

Budget US$

ActivitiesGeneral ProgrammesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support600,00021,000
Shelter/Other Infrastructures75,000686,150
Community Services230,00067,500
Legal Assistance/Protection550,000599,250
Agency Operational Support350,000213,274
Programme Delivery Costs*513,400198,741
Administrative Support Costs132,300
TOTAL GP + SP5,077,835

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.