Counter-Racism Programs in Ukraine Defend Refugees



July 2011 

Early this year, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) awarded advocacy grants to seven Ukrainian non-governmental organizations as part of its program to combat xenophobia and racism. The ABA ROLI-supported programs—some of which are in full swing while others are coming to a close—have been successful.

In June 2011, a Palestinian national sought assistance from one of the grantees, the Chernihiv Public Committee for Human Rights Protection. Staff at the Chernihiv City Hospital refused him emergency medical assistance despite his refugee status, which would qualify him for the medical service. The committee filed an official complaint with the local public health department. Subsequent negotiations enabled the man to be admitted and treated at the hospital, with the Red Cross covering his expenses.

The committee was also approached by two asylum seekers, a Sri Lankan and a Bangladeshi, who had secured legitimate paperwork from the migration services and properly registered at the passport service department. However, in spite of their legal-resident status in Ukraine, police had repeatedly harassed them and eventually apprehended them. The committee’s representatives contacted the police and demanded the detainees’ immediate release. The police eventually acquiesced, ending the illegal detention of the two refugees.

The counter-racism and counter-xenophobia efforts continue to help refugees and foreigners assert their rights.

To learn more about our work in Ukraine, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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