UNHCR launches new online database with human rights and refugee information in Russian

KYIV. On December 10, the UN Refugee Agency marked the annual Human Rights Day by launching the Russian language version of Refworld, a new online database with 4,500 human rights and refugee related documents.

The website (www.refworld.org.ru) was modelled after the Refworld database in English, which is a widely used online research and protection tool helping government officials and judges to decide whether someone is a refugee. Other stakeholders in the asylum procedure - lawyers, legal aid providers, NGOs - will also benefit from this new tool. The platform was designed to overcome the existing deficit in accurate, impartial, and up-to-date information in Russian and ensure that asylum officials in the Eastern European and other Russian speaking countries have access to comprehensive and unbiased data.

?UNHCR has long wanted to create a Russian version of Refworld, since we know that migration services and asylum lawyers working in the region need better access to country-of-origin information in order to make good decisions on asylum cases", said Mr. Oldrich Andrysek, UNHCR Regional Representative for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.

Refworld offers, free of charge, a vast collection of reports, policy guidance, position papers, along with, amongst others, decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, European Union asylum instruments and relevant national legislation. The collection is updated regularly from more than 60 reputable sources ? including UNHCR and other UN bodies, governments, international, regional and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and judicial bodies. A number of thematic pages in Refworld, offering mini-portals with information on Children; Gender Equality and Women; Caselaw of the European Court of Human Rights; Refugee Protection and International Migration; Refugee Status Determination; and the UN Human Rights System, will be equally interesting for a wider audience including human rights activists, judiciaries, academics and researchers.

The English version of Refworld was created more than two decades ago by UNHCR as a collection of protection information initially available in CD-ROM and DVD formats. The database went online in 2007, strengthening UNHCR's international protection mandate and making a selection of protection information available to everyone.

The creation of the Russian version of Refworld was undertaken as part of the Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus Project. The two-year project with a 2.5 million Euro budget, funded by the European Union and co-funded and implemented by UNHCR, seeks to work with Government agencies on quality of asylum procedures and refugee protection in six countries. In addition to Ukraine, the project covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova.