30 July 2013 - Despite significant progress in recent years, Ukraine's asylum system still requires fundamental improvements, says UNHCR report. Ukraine needs to offer better protection against refoulement and to improve the fairness and efficiency of the hearings process. As a result of these concerns, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees advises other states not to return asylum-seekers to Ukraine at this time.
UNHCR has evaluated Ukraine's asylum system as part of its mandate to monitor implementation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol. The assessment covers such issues as access to Ukraine's asylum system, refugee status determination and the treatment of unaccompanied minors as well as how people of concern are received, housed or detained in Ukraine. The report makes specific recommendations on how to strengthen the asylum system in Ukraine, which has declared its intention to synchronize its asylum policy and laws with international practices as well as in the context of its negotiations with the European Union on visa liberalization.
The country has made progress in some areas, including in access to asylum procedures and in the reception of unaccompanied and separated children. Basic improvements are still needed, though, in guaranteeing effective protection against asylum-seekers being sent back to the countries from which they fled. There is also the need to create the conditions for the transparent and fair review of asylum applications, including for instance enhancing the independence of decision-makers. Adequate reception capacity and resources for asylum-seekers are still lacking in that access to, and conditions in, the country's two temporary accommodation centres remain below established standards.
The UN refugee agency remains ready to work with the Ukrainian Government to help implement the report's recommendations to develop its relatively new asylum system. We have already prepared draft amendments on documentation, medical care and employment for asylum-seekers. And draft amendments on detention - designed to bring Ukraine's laws in line with European standards - are already before parliament.
UNHCR is ready to help Ukraine give asylum-seekers and refugees real protection as well as a real chance to integrate into and contribute to their host country.
UNHCR's new report "Ukraine as a Country of Asylum: Observations on the Situation of Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in Ukraine" is available online at http://www.refworld.org/docid/51ee97344.html