UNHCR Representation in Ukraine



UNHCR established a presence in Ukraine in 1994. In 2002 Ukraine acceded to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, and in 2013 — to the 1954 Stateless Persons Convention and 1961 Reduction of Statelessness Convention The role of UNHCR in Ukraine is to advise and assist the Government as well as monitor the implementation of the country’s international responsibilities relating to protection of refugees. 

The main directions of UNHCR activities are:

• Advocacy for an effective asylum system and legislation in line with international standards

• Ensuring protection for all persons of concern

• Sponsoring self-sufficiency, local integration and assistance in voluntary repatriation.

• Creating humanitarian space for internally displaced and asylum seekers in the context of mixed migration movements.

• Combating and preventing statelessness, caused inter alia by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

• Assistance to the most vulnerable refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced.

• Training for government officials, and civil society involved in refugee and IDP protection.

• Advocacy activities aimed at enhancing refugee protection and combating racism and xenophobia.


In 2014, Ukraine was confronted with the problem of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. UNHCR continues to support government and civic society in their response to the needs by providing legal, material and social assistance. The UN Refugee Agency focuses its activity on strengthening the guarantees of rights and freedoms of over 1.3 million IDPs, improving their living conditions and providing long term solutions.

Statelessness mandate

In addition to refugee protection UNHCR has a mandate to prevent statelessness and seek solutions for stateless persons.

As of January 1, 2012, 7,391 stateless persons are registered in Belarus, 6,896 of them are permanently residing and 495 are temporary residing. In 2011, 1,348 persons (all categories) received the Belarusian citizenship. It was 11 % decrease of permanently residing stateless persons in Belarus in 2011.

Moldova acceded to the 1954 and 1961 Statelessness Conventions in April 2012, and there are 2,046 registered stateless persons in Moldova. To help better understand and address the needs of stateless persons in Moldova, UNHCR has commenced a pilot survey initially targeting Roma-dominated settlements where it has been reported that some Roma may lack effective citizenship. The organization has also been requested by Moldova to reach out to persons in Transnistria to raise awareness in regard to Moldova's new procedures on statelessness determination.

In 1996, the Government of Ukraine invited UNHCR to assist it in re-integrating of the formerly deported people (FDPs) who returned to Crimea. UNHCR responded by launching a large-scale citizenship campaign, income generation, shelter rehabilitation and tolerance education programmes. At a volume of USD 5.3 million, the assistance that UNHCR provided over the last eleven years to the reintegration of returnees in Crimea constitutes the most comprehensive programme related to the prevention and reduction of statelessness that UNHCR implemented so far in any other country. As a result some 250,000 returnees have been assisted to obtain the Ukrainian citizenship. As of January 1, 2012, 5,875 stateless persons are permanently residing in Ukraine (the latter is an accumulative number of the Ministry of Interior, where recording started from 2003, when relevant procedures were harmonized with 2001 Immigration Law).Ukraine has announced that it is looking into signing both Statelessness Conventions.

In cooperation with an NGO partner in Crimea, UNHCR assisted around 90,000 FDPs to obtain the Ukrainian citizenship under the treaty between Ukraine and Uzbekistan on procedure for change of citizenship for FDPs and their descendants (valid from Oct. 1998 - 31 Dec. 99; Nov. 00 31 Dec. 2001). In addition, around 10,500 stateless FDPs were assisted by the NGO Assistance in obtaining the Ukrainian citizenship in the period of 1997-2000, and a further 1,700 stateless FDPs, who became stateless due to the expired Soviet passports, obtained the Ukrainian citizenship during 2001-11.

Every year some 3,000 FDPs and their descendants arrive to Crimea, therefore UNHCR continues to provide the free legal aid to returnees through a local NGO. There may be up to 40,000 stateless persons in Ukraine.