No registration – no rights: the plight of Ukraine’s homeless

A new registration centre for down-and-outs is to appear in Kyiv. Despite efforts by the authorities to register people “without fixed abode”, most prefer to remain out of view.

No registration – no rights

There are different reasons why people become homeless. In the main these are former prisoners, however there are also young people who have children’s homes and the like. The State is supposed to ensure that these people receive accommodation, but this often does not happen. There are also those whose lifestyle – drinking, etc – has meant that they lost their own flats.

While the old system of mandatory “propiska”, or registration, was abolished as unconstitutional, it remains difficult without registration to gain access to many services such as medical care and education.

The new registration centre for people without fixed abode in Kyiv is a branch of the Records Centre for the Homeless opened several years ago. The process is voluntary and many – especially former prisoners – prefer not to “advertise their existence”. And yet they need medical care.

Three thirds of Ukraine’s down-and-outs live in Kyiv, yet they can hope for free hot meals only in winter. In spring and summer they can only hope for such assistance from charitable or religious organizations. Ukraine as yet lacks the back up from the authorities providing shelters for the homeless.

In Ukrainian shelters only those who have a certificate of health and one confirming that the person is not in conflict with the law can stay.

For the above reasons it is impossible to give accurate statistics, however Mykola Roshchyn from the Ministry of Internal Affairs suggested that there are about 30 thousand homeless, and he means people between 35 and 45. The figures for street children are kept separately, with these also estimated at around 30 thousand.  The figures can also vary dependent on events in the country.

While the authorities and charities do endeavour to address the situation, progress is slow.

As reported in January 2009, a ruling handed down by the Solomyansky District Court in Kyiv effectively confirmed the right of any homeless resident of the city to indefinite registration. The suit involved the fraught issue of Kyiv registration with the claimant, 26-year-old Oleksandr Kvashuk represented by a Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union lawyer.


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