4 July 2014
A few years ago, when Ukraine was preparing to sign its readmission agreement with the EU, there were many discussions on possible consequences for the country. However, the first three years of its full implementation have shown that the number of third-country nationals sent back to Ukraine under the agreement is quite low and has been decreasing with time. According to the information provided by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, while 398 third-country nationals were readmitted from neighbouring countries under the accelerated procedure in 2010, less than 100 persons were similarly readmitted in 2013. The number of returning Ukrainians is also not as high as it was earlier expected (decreasing from 638 in 2010 to 347 in 2013). Whilst equipped with statistical data, the EU and Ukraine were lacking information about the human aspect of the agreement’s implementation. Do those Ukrainians and third country nationals returned to Ukraine under the readmission agreement enjoy full access to available social services? Are their rights protected? Literally, is a Ukrainian standing at an EU-Ukraine border crossing point able get safely to his or her home a few hundred kilometers away, find a job and successfully reintegrate? To find the answers to these questions, the European Union has initiated a pilot project to monitor the situation of readmitted persons in Ukraine and Pakistan, which is implemented by IOM in partnership with the UNHCR. The local partner in Pakistan is the STATT network.
Both Ukraine and Pakistan were chosen for the pilot project due to the importance of the EU readmission agreements concluded with these countries for the management of migration flows to the EU.
“While in Ukraine all administrative procedures are in place, it remains necessary that the human rights of readmitted persons are closely monitored,” says Andrii Fedoseiev from the Office of the Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.
In Ukraine, the project is based on an IOM-led observatory mechanism experience: from 2009 to early 2013 civil society and the international community, in cooperation with the state authorities, jointly monitored the situation in migrant accommodation centres and temporary holding facilities. IOM has been actively cooperating with the State Border Guard Service, the State Migration Service, the Office of the Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights (the Ombudsman), the Ministry of the Interior, the Prosecutor’s Office and other governmental bodies in order to support Ukraine implement the best European practices in migrant accommodation. In the framework of the MONITOR project, three lawyers working at the Chernihiv and Volyn migrant accommodation centres, as well as at the Chop and Mukacheve temporary holding facilities, will have a close look at the accommodation conditions and legal status developments of readmitted third country nationals, while the monitoring mechanism for observing the situation of own nationals is under development.
“IOM does not participate in forced return, but our global goal is to support humane and orderly migration and migrants’ rights protection,” says IOM Ukraine’s Chief of Mission Manfred Profazi.
The First International Monitoring Meeting of the project recently took place close to the EU-Ukraine border, in the city of Lviv. Over 30 participants, representing relevant Ukrainian governmental bodies, as well as the European Commission and IOM, also visited Mostyskyi Border Guard Detachment with a temporary holding facility. The participants also conducted the first monitoring visit to the Volyn Migrant Accommodation Centre in the village of Zhuravychi, which currently hosts nine readmitted third country nationals among a total of 99 migrants held in the facility. All members of the monitoring group noted good accommodation conditions at the facilities. Some existing challenges were also discussed, for example the identification of undocumented readmitted persons and avoiding prolonged detention. The participants agreed to foster their cooperation to address this issue and to identify other challenges, to support the development of an effective methodology to assess the implementation of the EU-Ukraine readmission agreement and strengthen the protection of readmitted migrants’ rights.