- About Us
- Our Work
- Work With MSF
- Public Events
- Press Room
MSF in Ukraine, 2009
Field Staff: 1
Reason for Intervention:
All articles on Ukraine »
Ukraine is often used as a transit country by migrants and refugees trying to reach the European Union (EU). Under growing pressure to contain this movement, the country has received EU funding and technical support to implement stricter border controls and increase the capacity of detention centers for migrants. As a result, a large number of migrants and refugees without proper papers, from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, Moldova and many others, remain blocked in the country, unable to continue towards Europe or unwilling to return home. MSF has been working to improve conditions in the detention centers and has been providing the migrants with medical care.
Under national legislation, migrants arrested when trying to cross the Ukraine border into the EU illegally should be detained for a maximum of ten days. However, in reality they are often detained for much longer under conditions that fall far below basic standards and offer limited access to healthcare.
MSF conducted an assessment in the detention centers in the Zakarpattya province near the European Union border, after reports in 2008 from the European Council of Refugees and Exiles denounced the poor living conditions there. While making the assessment MSF also repaired and installed toilets and showers to improve conditions in the detention center.
Migrants are transferred to new Migrant Accommodation centers (MACs) in Volyn and Chernihiv Oblast in the northeast and northwest of the country when they are released from the detention centers. MSF conducted a medical assessment in both these centers (which were built with EU financial support) and found that, although material conditions were better, the quality of medical services remained poor. People detained in these centers frequently suffer with skin diseases such as scabies, respiratory infections and digestive disorders such as Diarrhea, stomach-aches and nausea. They also have insomnia and psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches. However, mental-health services are often nonexistent.
To share its concerns over the detention of migrants in Ukraine, MSF will launch a report with the results of the assessment and will also warn of the possible consequences of the ‘readmission agreement’, which came into force in January 2010. Under this agreement, all migrants without proper documents arrested in the EU after having travelled through Ukraine could be sent back to the country, resulting in increasing numbers of migrants and asylum seekers being trapped in Ukraine.
MSF has worked in Ukraine since 2009.