Ukraine

Country Profiles Ukraine

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Executive Summary

Ukraine (603,600 sq. km) is a country with a long history and tradition located in Eastern Europe, divided into 24 Provinces and the capital Kyiv, which has special status. It is a middle-income country, with a significant output in agriculture and food products, as well as a strong industrial base. About 95% of Ukraine’s population of almost 42,000,000 comprises a mix of Ukrainians (77.8%) and Russians (17.3%). Ukraine is overwhelmingly Christian: 10% of Ukrainians identify as Catholic, while 78% identify as Orthodox, and 7% percent identify as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular”.

After gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became a semi-presidential republic. In mid-2014 Russia began supplying proxies in two of Ukraine’s eastern provinces with manpower, funding, and materiel, leading to armed conflict with the Ukrainian government that continues to this day. In 2020 the conflict entered its seventh year, continuing to significantly impact the lives of more than five million people who live in the region; 3.4 million require humanitarian assistance and protection services. Since 2014, more than 3,350 civilian men, women and children have been killed. Another 7,000 have been injured. These protracted hostilities have placed a financial strain on social services, communities and the population in general. Besides the loss of life and livelihoods, they result in the emerging vulnerabilities that are associated with the displacement of nearly 1.4 million persons from the conflict-affected areas.

On 20 November 2014, the government of Ukraine adopted a new law to protect the rights of Internally Displaced People (IDPs), and to establish a simple procedure for registering them and for providing them with temporary accommodation. In 2019, a new Election Code was adopted. It entitles IDPs to register an electoral address and to vote where they live. Before the introduction of this code IDPs were not eligible to vote in local elections because they did not belong to the territorial community to which they had been displaced.

Ukraine is one of the most migration-affected countries in Europe, with a diaspora of up to 20 million people, and 2.5 million labour migrants who contribute remittances of US$11 billion, which represents 10% of the country’s GDP. These remittances may have contributed to the economy of Ukraine and economic growth (solid at 3.2% in 2019), and may have been led by successful agricultural harvests and sectors that are dependent on domestic consumption, but the crisis resulting from COVID-19 is expected to impact negatively on the country’s economic activity in 2020. Additionally, Ukraine has one of the most rapidly ageing populations in Europe. This trend exacerbates employment challenges by reducing the number of people in the labour force. With the recent increasing trend of external labour migration, a third of which consists of young Ukrainians under the age of 35, these factors could affect national security and growth in the medium term. Ukraine’s unemployment rate decreased to 8.6% in the first three quarters of 2019 from 9.1% in 2018, but in 2020 it is expected to increase to 10%.

The Government of Ukraine does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but it is clearly making significant efforts to do so. In 2019, these efforts included more investigations, more than doubling the number of traffickers convicted, investigating more cases of forced labour, proposing draft legislation to eliminate recruitment fees, and granting official status to more victims who had been incarcerated abroad for crimes their traffickers compelled them to commit. The courts were slow, however, in their review of cases, often delayed further by chronic understaffing. The courts issued many suspended sentences, likely decisions often linked to corruption and resulting in a majority of convicted traffickers avoiding imprisonment. Such efforts are inadequate to deter trafficking. Additionally, a, moratorium on labour inspections continued to hamper law enforcement investigations of labour trafficking cases. In 2019, the government certified fewer victims; international organizations continued to identify more victims than the government, revealing the government’s inadequate identification efforts and a continuing lack of trust in the government’s ability to protect victims.

IOM, ILO, the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and the Ukrainian Red Cross are actively engaged with the government, Civil Society Organizations and Caritas Ukraine in the management of migration and displacement. The UNHCR has been working in Ukraine since 1994 on national legislation to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons. UNICEF is also responding to the urgent pressures of the humanitarian response in Eastern Ukraine, fulfilling its core mandate of programming and advocacy for children at the national and sub-national level across the country. Finally, the Catholic Church is working proactively on the migrants’ side with, for example, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) and the MSD.

Country Profile

Basic Information

Ukraine is a sizeable (603,600 km2) middle-income country, located in Eastern Europe. It is divided into 24 Provinces with Kyiv as its capital. With a population of almost 42,000,000 comprised largely of a mix of Ukrainians (77.8%) and Russians (17.3%), it is overwhelmingly Christian. Up to two thirds are Orthodox and one in ten are Catholics. Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has been a semi-presidential republic, which experienced rigged presidential elections under Western Europe and Russian influence. Thanks to a significant output in agriculture and food products, as well as a strong industrial base, Ukraine witnessed economic growth of 3.2% in 2019, but this will be negatively affected by the current COVID-19 crisis. Ukraine is one of the most migration-affected countries in Europe, with a diaspora of up to 20 million people. There are 1.4 million IDPs due to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014. In May 2019, the new elected President Volodymyr Zelensky undertook anti-corruption reform. He is committed to end the armed conflict with Russia.

International and Internal Migrants

Current migration processes in Ukraine are influenced by a number of important factors. These include:

  • the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the economic recession they caused;
  • the launch of important reforms; however, these have turned out to be insufficiently credible and consistent;
  • progress in European and Euro-Atlantic integration, including introduction of the visa-free regime with the EU in 2017;
  • and the actual experience of migration with its resulting diversification of migration networks that have developed due to multi-year active participation of Ukrainians in labour migration abroad.

Today, Ukraine is one of the most migration-affected countries in Europe, with a diaspora of up to 20 million people, and 2.5 million labour migrants contributing remittances of US$11 billion, or one tenth of the country’s GDP.

According to the 2020 World Migration Report, Ukraine ranks as the seventh country of origin of the world’s migrants. Some 5.9 million Ukrainians have been reported as migrants living abroad, especially in the Russian Federation (over 3 million), Kazakhstan, Poland (an estimated 2 million) and Italy (234,000). Ukrainian migrants (mostly men and young people) come from rural areas of Western Ukraine. Ukrainian women migrants are increasingly present in the care and social services sectors of Poland and Italy. Some may have completed higher education or professional qualifications prior to migrating and choose to move temporarily in search of higher wages to generate additional retirement savings. However, since women tend to adopt an “informal” migration pattern, which focuses on earning money and returning with it to their families in Ukraine, they are usually not covered by the health care system in Poland and they encounter barriers that prevent them from accessing it, even if they have short-term contracts. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Polish Border Guard and the Ukrainian embassy estimate that between mid-March and the end of April 2020, between 150,000 and 180,000 Ukrainians left Poland due to the pandemic. Among them were essential workers, including caregivers.

At the same time, many migrants chose to stay abroad as the quarantine progressed, and they reported challenges due to loss of employment or complications related to extension of work and/or residence permits. Many also reported being unable to access appropriate social services. Seasonal workers, too, have been affected. According to IOM estimates, in spring 2020, between 300,000 and 350,000 Ukrainians were unable to return to jobs abroad. Moreover, as Ukraine’s domestic labour market was not ready to accept this workforce, migrants often relied on their savings. Ukraine is currently enforcing strong but debatable measures concerning who is allowed out of the country. This is an attempt to try and stop the brain and talent drain which, together with the country’s ageing population, could have damaging effects on Ukraine’s future economic development.

On 21 July 2020, Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission for IOM Ukraine, affirmed that migrants are the backbone of the Ukrainian economy and that private remittances sent to Ukraine allow their families to cover their basic needs including food, rent, education and health care. Nevertheless, the absence of a parent, in most cases the mother, can be detrimental to a child’s social and psychological development. Children left behind are uniquely vulnerable and deserve specific policy attention. Another aspect is that women who have completed their work experience (in Italy for example) are rejected by their families back in Ukraine and are left penniless, alone and without assistance.

Granting a visa-free regime with the EU in 2017 contributed to intensifying cross-border mobility. Between June 2017 and June 2019, border guards registered 42.6 million crossings of the EU border by Ukrainians. Of that total, 9.2 million crossed using biometric passports, including almost 3 million who made visa-free crossings. During the second year of the visa-free regime (June 2018 to June 2019), Ukrainian citizens made 2.35 million visa-free visits to the EU, which is 4.2 times more than during the first year (June 2017 to June 2018).

More and more Ukrainian citizens are becoming citizens of the countries where they stay. The latest available Eurostat data (2017) reported that 3,400 were naturalized in Germany, 2,700 in Italy, 2,400 in Poland, some 2,000 in Portugal, and 1,200 in the Czech Republic. Ukrainians abroad are usually well integrated with local populations, and a sizeable Ukrainian diaspora is active in the Russian Federation, Canada, the USA, Moldova and Kazakhstan.

Internal migration is much more active than statistics suggest. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, each year over half a million Ukrainians change their place of residence. This figure is based on the data provided by registration bodies, however, and covers only movements where persons registered a change of their place of residence. According to some sociological estimates, at least 12% of adult Ukrainians, and as high as 15 to 30% in big cities, have chosen to live elsewhere than their registered place of residence.

Ukraine’s urban population is growing: 29 million people are concentrated mainly in Kiev and other major cities, including Dnipro, Kharkiv, Odesa and Lviv, where major educational institutions welcome young people as students , and where there is higher labour demand and remuneration.

In Ukraine, data on international and internal migrants reveal an increasing tendency toward mobility: about 285,000 foreigners (less than 0.7% of the population) reside permanently in Ukraine.

In 2018, the State Employment Service, which issues employment permits to foreigners, registered 16,000 foreign employees. Labour migrants are mostly executives and managers, employed in trade and repair, industry, and the information and telecommunication sectors. In 2018, the largest number of them came from Turkey (around 3,000), followed by Russia (1,600), and China and Belarus (around 1,000 each).

Some foreigners stay in Ukraine temporarily. There were 133,000 of them as of 31 December 2019. These are mostly male students at Ukrainian universities (medicine and pharmacology) and temporary workers from India (19.7%), Morocco (9.9%), Azerbaijan (8.2%) and Tajikistan (5.3%).

Emigration and Skilled Migration

According to UNESCO, the number of Ukrainian students abroad has not just increased, but almost doubled since 2013, reaching 157,000 in 2019. Young people often wish to study abroad in order to find a path to the international labour market. The growth of educational migration is an indirect proof of reunification of families of Ukrainian labour migrants in their countries of stay. Apparently, this has resulted in a surge in the number of Ukrainian students in the countries with numerous Ukrainian communities that have been established due to labour migration. For example, in 2000, only 40 Ukrainians studied in Italian higher education institutions, but by 2017 this had risen to 2,800, an astounding 70-fold increase. Ukrainian students tend to prefer studying in Poland, the Russian Federation and Italy.

The Ukrainian government’s funding for education is considerably high and is evidence of the importance the country gives to higher education, both from universities and from vocational and educational training institutions (VET). The level of education and training attainment is high in Ukraine. In 2017, more than half the population (52.9%) had completed or were in tertiary education; 45.1% had completed their secondary education; while only 2.0% of the active population had primary education or lower.

In 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers, clearly aware that outmigration continues to brain-drain young forces from Ukraine’s labour market, passed a Law on Education endorsing the concept of the “New Ukrainian School”. The Law has four main components:

  1. developing new, modern standards in secondary education with a key competence-based approach;
  2. revising the national curriculum according to new educational standards;
  3. introducing a teacher certification procedure and new programs to enhance professional qualifications;
  4. reducing bureaucracy in the education system while introducing a transparent and effective system of governance.

The next year, it adopted the Concept of Dual Training, aiming to combine work and learning in vocational and education training (VET) and higher education. In the end, the Federation of Employers of Ukraine and the Ministry of Education signed a Memorandum of Cooperation aimed at consolidating efforts in the development of VET and the provision of highly skilled professionals for the labour market, as well as the development of public–private partnerships.

Forced Migrants (internally displaced, asylum seekers and refugees)

According to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, there were 1,448,615 people registered as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in July 2020.

The government has taken measures to assist and protect the country’s IDPs, including the adoption (in 2014) of a law on internal displacement. In 2017, it adopted a three-year strategy to reintegrate displaced people and to facilitate their pursuit of long-term solutions, and has run programs in partnership with international organizations to support, resettle and protect them. Many IDPs have benefited from these measures, though many others still live in precarious conditions. In 2016, IOM began conducting a regular complex survey of the situation of IDPs in Ukraine (the National Monitoring System or NMS) to support the various government and non-government stakeholders in the design of evidence-based policies and programmatic responses to IDPs. The NMS annually reaches more than 15,000 conflict-affected persons across all the 24 oblasts (regions) of Ukraine, including IDPs who reside in government controlled areas (GCA), those who have returned to the non-government controlled areas (NGCA), and other groups.

The 2020 survey revealed that the well-being of IDPs remained the same compared to the previous survey and that they had been affected by COVID’s impact on the labour market and the provision of services. IDPs benefitted from their access to social, health and employment services, but reported that they felt less integrated in their communities due to various housing issues. Many IDPs returning to the NGCA (Non-Government Controlled Areas) reported that their reason to return was related to their ownership of private property with no need to pay rent. Most of these were older than the IDPs who lived in other areas of the country.

The annexation of Crimea and military actions in the Donbas caused internal and external involuntary migration in 2014-2015. After an initial peak, the number of applications for asylum filed in EU countries gradually declined in 2018. This can be attributed to the stabilization of the situation in the country. The number of asylum applications lodged by Ukrainian nationals in the Schengen area decreased by 5%, with 9,505 applications in 2019 compared to 10,035 applications in 2018. The rate of asylum recognition decreased to 10.2% in 2019, compared to 17.3% the previous year. In the first quarter of 2020, applications for asylum were received from 1,570 people, down 41% from the previous year. As for cooperation on readmission, there has been a decrease in the return rate, which in 2019 fell to 73%, compared to 85% the previous year. In real numbers, 27,200 Ukrainian nationals effectively returned in 2019. Since EU Member States report good cooperation on readmission of its own as well as third country nationals, this decrease in the return rates should not be attributed to underperformance or changes in the level of international cooperation, however. An ongoing EU-funded project will deliver an electronic readmission case-management system that aims to bring further efficiency. Ukraine’s efforts in meeting the visa liberalization requirements have been recognized as a positive sign in the operational cooperation with the EU countries.

Due to geographical proximity, family ties and pro-Russian sentiments of a segment of the population living in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, most involuntary migrants left for Russia. As of 1 January 2016, there were 311,000 Ukrainian citizens who were granted temporary asylum. In mid-2019, there were 60,000. Their number has decreased due to their return to their former homes and obtaining residence permits in Russia. Between 2014 and 2018, more than a quarter of a million Ukrainian citizens (265,000) participated in the IOM program for voluntary relocation to the Russian Federation, comprising almost one third (32.8%) of all participants. Most of them applied while they were staying in the territory of Russia.

Another issue relates to those labour migrants who work in Poland, Germany or Finland in the construction and agricultural sectors, often on a short-term work permits, because wages are higher there than in Ukraine. In April 2020, charter flights to bring Ukrainian workers to Finland and the U.K. were prevented from taking off by the Ukrainian border guards, because the government did not allow workers to fly abroad without proving they were in possession of a minimum three-month contract, guaranteed medical insurance (including coverage for COVID-19), accommodation and organized transport there and back. Many workers chose to travel by their own means, some by road and often paying much higher transportation prices and accepting work without a formal contract.

At the same time, Ukraine has become a country of destination and also a transit country for persons with international protection needs as well as for economic migrants who are seeking to enter the European Union. Ukraine’s refugee recognition rate is low. Refugees and asylum seekers have little chance of becoming self-sufficient. They have limited prospects for sustainable integration in Ukraine. Many asylum seekers and refugees choose to move on to third countries in search of more effective international protection and better integration prospects. UNHCR estimates that (as of 30 June 2020) there are 2,271 asylum seekers currently in Ukraine. There are also 2,281 refugees who originate mostly from Afghanistan, Syria and the Russian Federation.

Victims of Human Trafficking

Ukraine is a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking in men, women and children, and internal trafficking is a growing problem. Protracted conflict has increased the human trafficking risks and made the population more vulnerable to them. According to research commissioned by IOM, over 260,000 Ukrainians became victims to human trafficking since 1991, which makes Ukraine one of the main countries of origin of victims of human trafficking in Europe.

The main countries of destination for trafficked Ukrainians include the Russian Federation, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. These countries feature in most of the court decisions and reports of trafficking cases, as well as assistance claims to governmental and non-governmental organizations on behalf of trafficking victims.

The largest number of trafficking victims end up in the Russian Federation, which also shares the longest border with Ukraine. Most often, these victims are trafficked to Moscow (or the wider Moscow Region) and forced to provide sexual services in brothels, nightclubs, or otherwise they are exploited in construction work, in the illegal production of alcohol and other economic sectors. The lack of access to state social assistance programs affects the Roma minority, one of the major targets of traffickers.

Additionally, a small number of foreign nationals are exploited in forced labour in Ukraine in a variety of sectors, including construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and domestic work, the lumber industry, nursing, and organized street begging. The number of foreign victims in Ukraine has fallen dramatically since the beginning of hostilities in eastern Ukraine, although smuggled migrants transiting Ukraine are vulnerable to trafficking. Increasingly, low-skilled labourers remain vulnerable to labour exploitation.

It is in Ukraine’s state-run orphanages where 104,000 institutionalized children are most at risk of being trafficked. Criminal schemes serving the trafficking of new-borns represent a particular challenge among cases of child trafficking. Aiming to make a profit, criminals search for Ukrainian women with unwanted pregnancies, as well as foreigners from the EU or China who are willing to “acquire” a child. Such illegal “adoption” transactions are often disguised as surrogacy procedures, which are allowed in Ukraine. The traffickers use private medical clinics to issue fake documents confirming an alleged artificial insemination and arrange the fulfilment of all other formalities required by the surrogacy procedure. Once the child is born, the interested foreign clients come to Ukraine for the first time to record their parental rights and to collect “their” child. In this way, the foreigners manage to smuggle Ukrainian children, who are biologically alien to them. The trafficking of new-borns from Ukraine is also possible due to legislation which allows the legal registration of any male who the biological mother asserts to be the child’s father. To this end, it is sufficient to submit the necessary documentation on behalf of the mother and the “father” whom she has named, as well as the child’s birth certificate. The state lacks the resources and instruments to control the fate of these children, who are then adopted by foreigners. To date, Ukraine has not ratified the 1993 Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which could help implement appropriate controls.

During the last four years the government has intensified its efforts in prosecuting traffickers by increasing law enforcement efforts. Article 149 criminalized sex and labour trafficking and prescribed penalties from three to eight years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.

In 2019, law enforcement referred 233 notices of suspicion, a necessary precursor to a court trial, involving 120 suspects, compared with 185 cases involving 133 suspects in the previous year. At the same time, the government did not perform well in the identification of victims due to stricter internal procedures for classifying cases as trafficking crimes and for proving exploitation under non-trafficking articles. This was aggravated by large-scale personnel turnover within the office that approved the applications. In 2019, authorities approved 185 of 283 applications requesting official victim status, compared with 214 of 266 applications in 2018, and 195 of 273 applications in 2017. Most victims were Ukrainians exploited abroad and only one domestically identified victim was foreign. Ukraine’s trafficking law entitles victims to government shelter and psychological assistance in collaboration with international organizations, and Ukraine has continued to rely on international organizations and NGOs to ensure protection and assistance. Local services are hampered by unclear chains of responsibility for decisions regarding provisions of key social services, including identifying, referring and assisting victims.

National Legal Framework

Fundamental rights in the area of migration are enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine and include the freedom of movement, non-discrimination and equality before the law. Ukraine’s migration law comprises a cluster of measures:

  • “On Citizenship of Ukraine”
  • “On Freedom of Movement and Free Choice of Place of Residence in Ukraine”
  • “On the Procedure of Exit from Ukraine and Entry into Ukraine of the Citizens of Ukraine”
  • “On Border Control”
  • “On External Labour Migration”
  • “On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons”
  • “On Immigration”
  • “On Refugees and Persons Seeking Subsidiary or Temporary Protection”
  • “On Ukrainians Abroad”
  • “On Countering Human Trafficking”
  • “On Securing Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons”.

In addition to these laws there are regulations approved by the Government, including the State Migration Policy Strategy of Ukraine for the Period until 2025 (2017), which determines key objectives of the state migration policy and ways to achieve them.

As a founding member of the UN, Ukraine has ratified the main European and international Conventions. In the field of migration, Ukraine is a party to multilateral and bilateral international agreements, including

  • the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,
  • the Migrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking Protocols to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,
  • the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers,
  • the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers and Their Family Members,
  • the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, ● ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour,
  • ILO Minimum age Convention, 1973,
  • and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Responsibility for designing migration policy is split between the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine (MoI) and the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine (MSP), while the country’s State Migration Service (SMS) implements and makes recommendations on migration policy. These laws regulate aspects such as migrants’ rights as well as border crossing, immigration and emigration procedures. They are complemented by second-order legislation of the Cabinet of Ministers (Government) and other relevant Ministries and government agencies, such as the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (MFA), and the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGS).

In general, these laws are appropriate to handle the current migration and asylum issues and human trafficking. But there is still room for improvement. Ukraine has no measures aimed specifically at the ethical recruitment of migrants, although the Constitution guarantees proper working conditions, remuneration and protection from forced labour to nationals and migrants alike. Similarly, gender equality is promoted among all the country’s residents, in line with Ukraine’s Law “On ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men”, but there are no measures aimed specifically at migrants.

In general, the implementation of the laws is satisfactory. Still, there are areas for further development. The refugee recognition rate is low. Refugees and asylum seekers have little chance to become self-sufficient. They have limited prospects for sustainable integration in Ukraine. Therefore, many asylum seekers and refugees choose to move on to third countries in search of more effective international protection and better integration prospects.

Main Actors

The State

Nationally, the Government of Ukraine partners with civil society, the academic community, and diaspora communities in the formation of migration policy through dedicated consultative bodies. The regulations on the functioning of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine provide space for consultations with social partners in the preparation of proposals for legal acts, including those related to migration. Within the framework of the Public Council and the Scientific-Expert Council under the State Migration Service (SMS), the representatives of the government agencies respond to input from civil society and the academic community on migration policy. More specifically, the Public Council, composed of representatives of civil society organizations, consults the SMS on migration-related legislation and ensures the Service’s transparent functioning. The Scientific-Expert Council, made up of experts and academics, analyses existing legislation and proposes new legislation to the SMS. The country is represented in the governing bodies of IOM and UNHCR, as well as in the Global Forum on Migration and Development and several regional consultative processes, providing it with experience and advice in formulating the migration policy.

The Catholic Church

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) is very active on behalf of migrants and is crucial in helping them in countries abroad. From 1939 to 1989, the UGCC served as a public legal institution in Western Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia. Both the clergy and believers were also migrants and had to integrate into their host societies. In 2007, the Synod of UGCC created the Pastoral Migration Department for the pastoral care of the Ukrainian diaspora in those countries without a UGCC ecclesial structure. The Department now offers pastoral care to migrants and internally displaced people and victims of human trafficking.

The dynamism of the UGCC inspired the creation of Caritas Ukraine in 1992, which since then, has been at the forefront in providing reintegration assistance for Ukrainian migrants, as well as in rendering direct assistance and seminars to prevent human trafficking. Since April 2014, Caritas Ukraine has helped nearly 560,000 people affected by the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine. Its work has been marked by challenges associated with the war and the continuing humanitarian crisis resulting from armed conflict. To bring effective and timely help to the victims of the war and to other socially unprotected people in eastern of Ukraine, Caritas Ukraine has built up a network, creating more than a dozen centres in five eastern Ukrainian regions: Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk. From these centres, assistance is organized and coordinated to serve victims in the buffer zone, IDPs and other people in need. This assistance these centres provides includes the provision of basic needs (food, medicine and fuel for the winter) , as well as a range of appropriate social services.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) was registered in 2005 in Ukraine and it opened a centre in Lviv in 2008. For the first five years, JRS worked for refugees and migrants from abroad, mostly from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Palestine, Afghanistan. During this time JRS assisted more than 70 people who were provided with housing, food, and legal assistance. Children and adults also received language training in Ukrainian, German and English. Since December 2014, the JRS centre has a house that serves the needs of internally displaced persons from the eastern Ukraine regions affected by war. In the house the settlers are provided with reasonable accommodations and three meals a day. There are also various joint events and celebrations to help restore their spiritual and psychological condition.

The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) and the Dominican Order also address the evangelization of Ukraine and work in collaboration with local communities. In 2005 the Dominican Order founded St. Martin’s House, whose aim is to help the most vulnerable – children with disabilities, children from large families, as well as those living below the poverty line, orphans, lonely and sick people.

The Salesians and the Sant’Egidio Community also operate in the country, focusing on young people and the most vulnerable.

Maltijska Slushba Dopomohy (MSD) is the Relief organization of the Order of Malta in Ukraine and has been operating there since 1990, supporting people with disabilities or who are in a crisis situation. Thanks to the financial support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs it has promoted the project Psycho-social Support for Victims of the Conflict in Ukraine which focuses on the needs of IDPs. Assistance to IDPs was also provided during the COVID crisis.

The main strength of these various actors in the migration sphere is that they cooperate on both national and international levels, developing policy, strategies, national legal framework, involving academic and scientific experts, and NGOs. The main weakness is on the implementation level: vulnerable people who depend on migration policy cannot fully benefit from it and must count on support from civil society organizations which are limited in their resources.

Other Important Issues

Ukraine was actively involved in the Global Compacts process. Nevertheless, it did not sign them because they did not tackle the issue of IDPs that was critical to Ukraine. Ukraine maintains the right to join the Compacts at a later date. Caritas Ukraine has prepared a statement in support of the Global Compacts and encourages the Ukrainian government to sign them. The position of Caritas Ukraine corresponds to the 20 Action points proposed by the Holy See.