Local Integration of Refugees: Benefits of Employment. Kyiv 22 December 2010

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1 Local Integration of Refugees: Benefits of Employment Kyiv 22 December 2010

2 Introduction UNHCR welcomes all the members of the American Chamber of Commerce and wishes to thank you for attendance in the meeting and your interest in refugees. This presentation aims at giving an overview on the following issues: who are the refugees, where they come from and for which reasons, and what is the Ukrainian refugee context. We will also present the concept of durable solutions for refugees and concentrate on local integration as one of them. We will show you that refugees are vulnerable but also qualified.

3 WHO ARE THE REFUGEES? The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as a person, who, owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside of country of his nationality and cannot thus be protected by this country and cannot return there.

4 WHO ARE THE REFUGEES? The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees further specifies the rights that should be guaranteed to refugees by the signatory countries as well as their obligations: Non-discrimination (Art. 3) Freedom of religion (Art. 4) Free access to courts on the territory of all States parties to the convention (Art. 16) Right to work (Art. 17) Right to housing (Art. 21) Right to education (Art. 22) Right to public relief and assistance (Art. 23) Freedom of movement within the territory (Art. 26) The right not to be expelled from a country (unless the refugee poses a threat to national security or the public order) (Art. 32) The right not to be expelled or returned ( refoulé ) to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened (Art. 33)

5 WHO ARE THE REFUGEES? By the end of 2008, there were an estimated 10.5 million refugees under UNHCR s responsibility Some 2.1 million in sub-saharan Africa Some 0.8 millions in America Some 3.6 in Asia and Pacific Some 1.6 in Europe Some 2.2 in Middle East and North Africa In addition, a total of 14.4 million Internal Displaced Persons and some 6.6 million stateless persons have been protected and/or assisted by UNHCR

6 WHO THE REFUGEES ARE?

7 WHO ARE THE REFUGEES? Very often there is confusion between refugees and economic migrants and irregular migrants, which leads to wrong conclusions and xenophobic reactions. Many irregular migrants try to look for new life opportunities moving to developed countries. They are not necessarily refugees, although among them there might be some persons who have well-founded reasons to seek asylum from persecution. These persons are those who deserve international protection.

8 WHO ARE THE REFUGEES? Refugees are persons who flee because of persecution or threat of persecution and cannot return safely to their homes in the prevailing circumstances. Refugee women and children are particularly vulnerable, as their new livelihood can increase the risk of violence, abuse and exploitation. An economic migrant normally leaves a country voluntarily to seek a better life. Should they elect to return home, they would continue to receive the protection of their government. ANYONE CAN BECOME A REFUGEE BUT NONE CHOOSES TO BE A REFUGEE

9 DURABLE SOLUTIONS FOR REFUGEES UNHCR pursues three durable solutions for refugees worldwide, including Ukraine: 1. Voluntary repatriation refugees can return to the country of origin following their well-informed and voluntary decision 2. Resettlement refugees can be resettled to a safe third country if in the country of asylum they lack appropriate protection

10 DURABLE SOLUTIONS FOR REFUGEES 3. Local Integration in the country of asylum refugees are integrated in the society of the country of asylum. They need to speak the local language, find a decent accommodation where to live, participate in the social life of the local community, become able to find an employment that guarantees a level of income that can satisfy their needs.

11 WHO ARE THE REFUGEES? In 2002, Ukraine signed and ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and also adopted a National Law of Ukraine On Refugees Thus, the concept of the refugee as a non citizen who needs international protection is integrated in the national legislation The Government of Ukraine has an established procedure to determine who is a refugee among the asylum seekers Ukraine recognizes to the refugees the same rights and obligations of citizens, except active and passive voting rights and military duties

12 WHO ARE THE REFUGEES? According to the national Law of Ukraine On Refugees, refugees in Ukraine: Have the same rights as Ukrainian nationals, except to vote and to be elected Can be gainfully employed or self-employed Can benefit from the national welfare schemes Can own and benefit from the property they have Can pay taxes and contributions

13 WHO ARE THE REFUGEES? Some 2,200 recognized refugees currently live in Ukraine In addition, 1,300 persons have applied in 2009 for asylum Usually only 3% of asylum seekers are recognized as refugees During the last 10 years, 1,100 refugees have become citizen of Ukraine, through a process of naturalization as defined by the law However, since 29 July 2009, the recognition procedure has been put on hold and resumed only in August Majority of refugees and asylum-seekers live in the urban areas of Kyiv, Odessa and Kharkiv

14 WHERE THE REFUGEES ARE? As of 1 April 2010 there are 2334 recognized refugees in Ukraine

15 WHERE ARE REFUGEES COMING FROM? Refugees usually come from countries where violations of the human rights take place, from the side of the government and/or from nongovernment power groups. In Ukraine, there are many refugees from Afghanistan, Iran and African countries, as well as from CIS countries. Many refugees in Ukraine have been residing in the country for a relatively long time due to inability to return.

16 WHAT ARE REFUGEES DOING IN UKRAINE? Like any ordinary people, refugees in Ukraine are trying to lead dignified life. Being in a foreign country, for refugees the cost of life is higher than for nationals. Many of them have families and children, which they have to care for. They have to pay for a rent, with no relatives to support them, in a different culture, with temporary or not recognized documents, often confronting a xenophobic attitude Only most vulnerable cases receive a limited and temporary assistance from UNHCR.

17 WHAT ARE REFUGEES DOING IN UKRAINE? To maintain their families, many refugees work in very difficult conditions in the markets, as only there they can earn enough money to pay for a rent. While refugee children attend Ukrainian schools (with free admission) grown up persons need to learn from scratch while they are working. However, they learn local languages, strive to integrate in the local society, try to undertake a training to improve their qualification, and look for better jobs to pay for the cost of life in a foreign country.

18 EXPERIENCE FROM ABROAD Most of the countries of the European Union have a national integration program for refugees In such countries, on account of the receiving state, refugees are receiving housing, language training, vocational training if needed and job placement The aim of such activities is to guarantee a decent life to the persons who have already suffered from the violation of the human rights, but also to allow them to realize the potential for the benefit of all

19 WHY IS EMPLOYMENT IMPORTANT? No need to say that gainful employment is important for each and every human being. Also refugees need to be given an opportunity to contribute with knowledge, experience and skills Being officially employed (and paying taxes) not only contribute to the economy of the country that has recognized them as refugees (and often naturalized) but also stimulates to improve and do more and better

20 WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES? In the Ukrainian context, where suitable jobs are sometimes difficult to find even for the nationals, refugees find themselves in the most difficult situation Sometimes refugees who approach the employers are rejected on the ground that they are foreigners or for reasons which are not related to the their professional skills Skilled and well educated refugees might lack copies of their diploma/qualifications

21 HOW CAN THE EMPLOYMENT OF THE REFUGEE BE BENEFICIAL FOR THE EMPLOYER? Employment of refugees does not pose particular risks for the employers, as they have same rights and duties as nationals. BUT employers might benefit from the fact that many refugees are mother tongue or perfectly fluent in foreign languages relevant to Ukrainian business. Specific appearance of many refugees may represent an opportunity to break a stereotype or to promote the international and equalitarian image of their company Employment of refugees promotes the human rights of people who may have suffered a trauma in their life, which in turn promotes social responsibility of business. Employment of the refugees promotes corporate social responsibility of the company Employment of the refugees does not imply any additional costs to employer deriving from the legal status of the person!

22 HOW CAN UNHCR AND PARTNERS ASSIST? UNHCR is implementing the regional EU-funded project Local Integration of Refugees in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine in refugees in Ukraine have already started specific language training in Ukrainian at three selected Universities One of the important project components is job placement. Our implementing partners in Kharkiv, Kyiv and Odessa counsel refugees on opportunities on the job market, interview them to find out their professional skills, suggest appropriate vocational training An audit of refugees skills has been updated and is available for the employers

23 HOW CAN UNHCR AND PARTNERS ASSIST? In case of opening of a job opportunity, refugees can benefit from a specific professional training to update, increase or deepen their knowledge and skills, without additional costs for the employers To the employers, our implementing NGO partners can provide any relevant information and extracts from the legislation of Ukraine regarding refugee employment, as well as search their databases for candidates suitable for the vacancies UNHCR and partners are always ready to be flexible and seek for innovative ways for the sake of successful refugee employment

24 Thank you for your attention Your questions please

25 OUR PARTNERS Kyiv Charity Foundation ROKADA, Ms. Natalia Gourji, Director, Kharkiv NGO Social Assistance Service, Mr. Viktor Gritsay, Vice-President,

26 OUR WEBSITE

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