• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

The UN Refugee Agency condemns refoulement of a refugee to Russian Federation

Press Releases, 17 August 2012

Kyiv (Ukraine) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemns the extradition of the refugee from Russian Federation (Republic of Ingushetia) that took place on 15 August 2012 in breach of national and international law.

The refugee was recognized by UNHCR under its mandate in March 2012; in June 2012 he was granted refugee status by the EU member-state, who accepted him for resettlement on its territory. This means that both UNHCR and the EU member-state have reached the conclusion that this refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution in his country of origin. Forcibly returning him to that country exposes him to unacceptable risks of serious human rights violations.

This individual's application for refugee status in Ukraine was pending decision of the State Migration Service.

On 15 August, the lawyer received confirmation of his permission granted by the General Prosecutor's Office to visit the refugee in detention in Kharkiv and travelled from Kyiv to visit him. However, when the lawyer arrived at the Kharkiv SIZO on 16 August, he was informed by SIZO officials that the refugee had been extradited to his country of origin on the previous day.

UNHCR has repeatedly urged the Ukrainian authorities to adhere to their international obligations and refrain from his extradition, which in this case constitutes refoulement. Refoulement is considered a grave violation of international refugee law and national legislation because it involves the expulsion of an individual to a territory where his life or freedom would be threatened. The obligation to respect the principle of non-refoulement as provided for under international refugee and human rights law takes precedence over any duty to extradite on the basis of a bilateral or multilateral extradition agreement.

UNHCR is appalled by this blatant violation of the key principle of refugee protection. Mr. Oldrich Andrysek, UNHCR Regional Representative emphasized: "This incident illustrates that 10 years after Ukraine acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugees still cannot enjoy protection from persecution in Ukraine. Moreover, we continue to observe the practice of deliberate violation of provisions of both national and international law."

In line with its supervisory role of the 1951 Convention, UNHCR expects to receive a full explanation from authorities regarding Ukraine's failure to abide by key international obligations.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Advocacy

Advocacy is a key element in UNHCR activities to protect people of concern.

Ingushetia: Internally Displaced Chechens

When fighting broke out between government troops and rebel forces in Chechnya in 1999, over 200,000 people fled the republic, most of them to the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia. Today, tens of thousands of Chechens remain displaced in Ingushetia, unwilling to go home because of continuing security concerns.

As of early December 2003, some 62,000 displaced Chechens were living in temporary settlements or in private accommodation. Those living in settlements face constant threats of eviction, often by owners who wish to use their buildings again.

Another 7,900 displaced Chechens live in tents in three remaining camps – Satsita, Sputnik, and Bart.

The authorities have repeatedly called for the closure of tent camps and the return of the displaced people to Chechnya. Three camps have been closed in the past year – Iman camp at Aki Yurt, "Bella" or B camp, and "Alina" or A camp. Chechens from the latter two camps who did not wish to go home were allowed to move to Satsita camp or other existing temporary settlements in Ingushetia.

Ingushetia: Internally Displaced Chechens

Displacement in Georgia

Tens of thousands of civilians are living in precarious conditions, having been driven from their homes by the crisis in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.

On the morning of August 12, the first UNHCR-chartered plane carrying emergency aid arrived in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the first UN assistance to arrive in the country since fighting broke out the previous week. The airlift brought in 34 tonnes of tents, jerry cans, blankets and kitchen sets from UNHCR's central emergency stockpile in Dubai. Items were then loaded onto trucks at the Tbilisi airport for transport and distribution.

A second UNHCR flight landed in Tbilisi on August 14, with a third one expected to arrive the following day. In addition, two UNHCR aid flights are scheduled to leave for Vladikavkaz in the Russian Federation the following week with mattresses, water tanks and other supplies for displaced South Ossetians.

Working with local partners, UNHCR is now providing assistance to the most vulnerable and needy. These include many young children and family members separated from one another. The situation is evolving rapidly and the refugee agency is monitoring the needs of the newly displaced population, which numbered some 115,000 on August 14.

Posted on 15 August 2008

Displacement in Georgia

Ukraine: Sorting through the Wreckage

Conflict has changed the city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. "We used to have such a beautiful, calm, tidy city," says Angelina, a social worker. Today, it is full of destroyed homes and infrastructure, a casualty of the fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces. More than half of the inhabitants - some 70,000 people - fled the city during the combat earlier this year. In recent weeks, with the city back under government control, some 15,000 have returned. But they face many challenges. Maria, aged 80, returned to a damaged home and sleeps in the kitchen with her family. She worries about getting her pension. The UN refugee agency has transported several tons of hygiene items and kitchen equipment to the city for distribution to those who lost their homes. Photojournalist Iva Zimova recently accompanied UNHCR staff as they visited more than 100 families to give put aid.

Ukraine: Sorting through the Wreckage

Ukraine: A Summer Camp RefugePlay video

Ukraine: A Summer Camp Refuge

Normally, the Promotei camp hosts holidaymakers during Summer. But this year, it provided shelter for more than 100 Ukrainians forced by fighting to flee their homes in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine: Baby Born In ConflictPlay video

Ukraine: Baby Born In Conflict

Sasha was born just as the fighting started in Ukraine. He and his mother struggled to survive.
Ukraine: Displacement TraumaPlay video

Ukraine: Displacement Trauma

Across Eastern Ukraine, thousands face internal exile, lost homes and jobs and a very uncertain future.