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07KYIV656, UKRAINE ACTION REQUEST: UNHCR CONCERNED ABOUT DROP

March 22, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV656 2007-03-22 13:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0032
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #0656/01 0811325
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221325Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0100
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0055
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1622

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 000656 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
MOSCOW FOR DHS/CIS, STATE FOR ROLF OLSON AT PRM 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL UP UNHCR
SUBJECT: UKRAINE ACTION REQUEST: UNHCR CONCERNED ABOUT DROP 
IN U.S. ASYLUM REQUEST ACCEPTANCES 
 
REF: 06 KYIV 4680 
 
Classified By: POL Counselor Kent Logsdon, reasons 1.4 (b, d). 
 
1.  (SBU)  Note: This is an action request for Moscow 
DHS/CIS, Mission Geneva and PRM, retransmitting the text of 
reftel, slightly modified.  Post requests a response to the 
UNHCR-Kyiv claim that U.S. refusal rates of UNHCR-Kyiv 
referrals in 2006 jumped by 20 percent; see para 9. 
 
2. (C) Summary.  Representatives from UNHCR-Kyiv told us in 
December 2006 that the situation for asylum seekers in 
Ukraine was still precarious and that proposed legislation, 
which UNHCR helped to draft, would address the shortcomings 
of the current system - including gaps in the legal structure 
and nearly continuous reorganization of the State Committee 
for Nationalities and Refugees.  They added that the 
readmission agreement between Russia and Ukraine, signed 
December 22, 2006 could make asylum seekers from CIS 
countries - especially Chechens - more vulnerable.  UNHCR 
also raised concerns about the approximately 20 percent 
increase in U.S.-refused resettlement applications referred 
by UNHCR-Kyiv in 2006. They also provided information on the 
11 Uzbeks refouled in February, reporting that several had 
received lengthy prison sentences or were subject to 
restrictive measures although there was no way to confirm 
this information provided by the Uzbek Government.  End 
Summary 
 
UNHCR: Asylum Seekers Face Hardship and Uncertainty 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
3.  (SBU) The office of the United Nations High Commissioner 
for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova - 
including its Regional Representative Simone Wolken - 
requested a meeting with us to raise concerns about the 
precarious situation for asylum seekers in Ukraine.  The four 
officials painted a bleak picture in which asylum seekers 
face long delays for their cases to be heard (2-3 years), 
murky legal status while waiting for their hearings, and few 
prospects of receiving refugee status from Ukraine (a four 
percent acceptance rate 2002-2005). 
 
4.  (SBU) The UNHCR representatives explained that the major 
flaws in the current Ukrainian system is how the Government 
of Ukraine registers asylum seekers.  The current system 
lacks an effective mechanism to confer on them the temporary 
right of residence in Ukraine, and does not give them the 
legal status necessary to work legally.  Therefore, these 
asylum seekers, often without legal documents and working 
illegally, are subjected them to possible arrest and 
harassment by local law enforcement authorities.  UNHCR added 
that access to temporary accommodations, health care, and 
subsistence income is very limited, causing the asylum 
seekers significant hardship. 
 
5.  (C) The UNHCR representatives acknowledged that Ukraine 
faces a particularly difficult situation as a transit country 
for refugees seeking asylum in the EU (note: as well as 
economic migrants).  They added that asylum seekers from CIS 
countries, most notably Uzbeks and Chechens from Russia, face 
further danger due to what UNHCR believes is unwritten but 
close cooperation between CIS country security organizations 
- especially with Russia in regards to Chechens.  Asylum 
seekers from CIS countries are especially fearful of even 
applying for status in Ukraine and do so only if apprehended 
on Ukraine's western borders.  At that point, their only 
other option is usually immediate deportation to their 
country of origin. 
 
6. (C) The UNHCR stated that the readmission agreement 
between Russia and Ukraine signed during President Putin's 
visit to Kyiv in December 2006, in UNHCR's view, could 
provide a mechanism to facilitate deportation of CIS asylum 
seekers - most notably Chechens - to Russia or other CIS 
countries. However, conclusion of the Ukrainian-Russian 
agreement was critical to implementation of the EU-Ukrainian 
readmission agreement, a key step forward in Ukraine-EU 
relations.  Without the readmission agreement with Russia, 
Ukraine would have to manage the holding of potentially tens 
of thousands of returnees from the EU who had transited 
Ukraine, without recourse to further deportation to Russia. 
In a November 2006 meeting with Interpol Secretary General 
Ronald Noble, President Yushchenko acknowledged that annually 
Ukraine was detaining 9,000 to 14,000 irregular migrants, but 
only had two facilitates to accommodate the migrants while 
status was being determined.  Therefore, even before signing 
of the readmission agreement with EU, Ukraine's inability to 
manage its case load of migrants had resulted in harsh 
 
criticism from the Council of Europe for not meeting European 
standards. 
 
Request for USG to Support New Law on Refugees 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
7.  (SBU) Frequent changes in the organization of the GOU 
asylum authorities (eight times in the past nine yea
rs) and 
shortcomings in the 2001 Law on Refugees make it hard to 
assist asylum seekers, UNHCR noted.  With the November 2006 
formation of the State Committee for Nationalities and 
Religion, replacing two previous committees, it remains 
unclear which Ukrainian government body will have authority 
over asylum matters let alone migration policy writ large. 
(Note: Implementation of Ukraine's migration policy, to the 
degree it exists, is handled by the State Border Guard 
Service and the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the latter 
assigned in September 2005 to take over responsibility from 
the Border Guards for Ukraine's migration detention 
facilities.  Beyond the problem of insufficient space to 
accommodate the large number of irregular migrants detained 
each year, Mikhail Andrienko, Head of the MOI's Trafficking 
in Persons and Migration Department, said there is a lack of 
proper legislation empowering his Department to operate in 
this field.). 
 
8.  The 2001 Law on Refugees and subsequent amendments to it 
do not provide adequate protections to asylum seekers and 
falls short of international standards, in UNHCR's opinion. 
However, they hope that draft legislation that they helped 
write to address shortcomings in the current legislation 
would become law in 2008 or 2009.  The UNHCR asked for U.S. 
support in encouraging the GoU to pass the proposed 
legislation without major changes. 
 
Drop in USG Acceptance of Resettlement Cases? 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C) Wolken and her colleagues expressed alarm at the 
decrease in the number of resettlement cases from Ukraine 
accepted by the USG in 2006 as compared to previous years. 
According to their figures, in 2003-2005, the U.S. accepted 
approximately 65-70 percent of resettlement requests 
forwarded by UNHCR-Kyiv, while in 2006 only 40 percent of 
such cases were accepted.  They were puzzled by the sharp 
drop this year because they saw no qualitative or 
quantitative difference between the 2006 cases and those from 
previous years.  They were especially at a loss to understand 
the refusal of cases involving Somalis, since they knew of 
Somalis having been resettled from other third-countries to 
the U.S. in 2006.  They asked us to relate their concerns to 
the DHS/CIS representatives in Moscow and asked to meet with 
them in Kyiv during the next round of resettlement case 
adjudications.  (Note: We suggested that UNHCR raise this in 
both Geneva and Washington for a response.  End Note.) 
 
Fate of the 11 Refouled Uzbeks 
------------------------------ 
 
10.  (C) In response to our question regarding the fate of 
the 11 Uzbeks refouled in February 2006, UNHCR-Kyiv provided 
us with a copy of a November 9, 2006, letter from the Mission 
of Uzbekistan in Brussels to the Permanent Representations of 
European Union Member States to the EU indicating that all 11 
had been charged with several criminal offenses relating to 
the May 2005 Andijon uprising.  Two of the refouled Uzbeks 
had received lengthy prison terms; two received three-year 
correctional work custody, and one case was still pending. 
There was no additional information about the remaining six. 
Although there is not a UNHCR office in Tashkent, UNHCR-Kyiv 
told us that, according to their sources, those not sentenced 
are subject to restrictive measures and police surveillance. 
 
11. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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