Suddenly, becoming a refugee - displaced and far from home, not knowing about legal rights and obligations or how to retrieve lost legal documents - needs among people who have fled war in Ukraine are diverse and often related to access to fast and reliable legal aid.
To respond to increasing needs for legal aid among Ukrainians in Moldova, a key refugee host country in the immediate region, DRC with funding from UNHCR, co-facilitation by DRC Ukraine's legal team, and in cooperation with the General Inspectorate for Migration of the Republic of Moldova and local civil society organisations, gathered legal aid professionals and stakeholders. The topic of the event that took place in Moldova’s capital Chisinau was ‘Staying Connected with the Home Country - Setting a Frame of Free Legal Aid for Better Protection of Displaced Persons from Ukraine’. Here, legal aid professionals and duty-bearers met to discuss and learn about tools and information that is essential to providing relevant, reliable and free legal aid to displaced populations, and with a specific view to the large numbers of refugees from Ukraine.
‘There is an admirable hospitality and commitment in the countries neighbouring Ukraine to support refugees. DRC is part of joint humanitarian responses and efforts to ensure access to free and reliable legal aid. DRC has extensive experience in this field having provided free legal aid to conflict-affected persons in Ukraine since nearly a decade. We are eager to share our competences and tools to make legal aid for the displaced population more effective and relevant to meet their needs. These efforts focus on legal rights and obligations in Ukraine and in the neighbouring countries,’ said Helena Lassen, DRC Country Director for Poland, Moldova and Romania who participated in the event in Chisinau.
During the workshop on 4-5 July 2023 in Moldova, participants shared ideas and discussed concerns and issues relevant to the protection of the rights of refugees. They also addressed the need to consider aiding the host population in Moldova, among whom many need legal aid, and are facing financial constraints, struggling with unemployment and access to public services.
‘Serving both the refugees and the communities hosting them is crucial to preserving social cohesion. This is something we need to consider in all aspects of the assistance and programmes designed in support of Ukrainian refugees,’ DRC’s Helena Lassen stressed during her visit to the event in Chisinau.
The event served as the platform for networking and establishment of cooperation between humanitarian service providers both from Ukraine and Moldova. Additionally, representatives of the Moldovan State authorities, local and international NGOs received news and knowledge on peculiarities of the Ukrainian legislation necessary for the provision of legal aid to conflict-affected persons.
The topics covered not least issues of civil documentation in Ukraine and Moldova, legal developments concerning compensation for the damaged and destroyed housing in Ukraine, social protection and pension programmes in Ukraine, child protection mechanisms in both Ukraine and Moldova, modalities of tax law as well as access and use of Ukrainian digital services. DRC presented its new and innovative Digital Legal Aid Platform being a step towards creating a framework for free legal aid services to meet specific needs of forcibly displaced persons from Ukraine.
DRC’s legal support hotlines remain active both in Ukraine and Moldova. People who prefer to seek legal assistance by phone can call following numbers: 0800 33 19 13 - free of charge in Ukraine / +38 044 333 42 95 for calls to Ukraine from abroad. Free of charge - a callback is on. For calls in Moldova: +373 62 197 386 or +373 60 400 490.