Right to Protection’s Quick Pivot to a War Footing

A Game of Telephone

Olena Hrekova, the Team Leader for the new Lviv office was herself relocated from the Donbas and said that R2P’s outreach was essential because “it’s like a game of telephone with so many rumors. We have to ask IDPs a lot of questions to figure out what they need.” When Hrekova and her team visited a hastily constructed encampment of modular housing units in a Lviv city park, an older woman asked her, “when will the war end?” before getting to the practical question she had about problems she was having with her cash assistance application. Another woman with a disabled husband said that her ID documents were inadequate and so had been denied humanitarian aid from a local volunteer organization. A pregnant woman told R2P staffer Nataliya Zyhula that their modular housing units were too cold, and that she needed more maternity care.

Representing the Stateless

Despite the urgent need to respond to the emergency of invasion and full-scale war, R2P’s longstanding existing programs had to be maintained, because since 2014, Russia’s incursions into the Donbas and Crimea regions had already created over 700,000 IDPs. Oleksandra Aivazian is a Kyiv-based R2P lawyer working on legal assistance for stateless people in Ukraine. Before February 24, there were officially 35,000 stateless persons in the country. Aivazian explained that there were probably many more.

Making Sure People Don’t Fall Between the Cracks

R2P is also planning pilot programs for grants to small businesses and to support hiring of IDPs in their new locations, because, Sasha Galkin said, “it’s the proper time to boost the economy, otherwise there will be a full collapse.” With so many people displaced and impacted by the war, he explained how R2P chooses which people to help: “We target the very vulnerable. Those who fall between the cracks.”



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HIAS is the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in 16 countries.