Back Council of Europe, EU and UNHCR seminar for lawyers on European legal practices to assist Ukrainian refugees

Warsaw, Poland 27 September 2022
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Council of Europe, EU and UNHCR seminar for lawyers on European legal practices to assist Ukrainian refugees

On 27 September 2022, the Council of Europe, the European Union, and the UNHCR organised a seminar in Warsaw, hosted by the Warsaw Bar Association, for lawyers on European legal practices to assist Ukrainian refugees. Its aim was to provide the most updated information to Ukrainian and European legal practitioners assisting war refugees on the different European and national procedures and practices regarding the implementation of the EU Temporary Protection Directive (TPD), including obstacles, as well as relevant international and European standards. By September 2022, more than 7 million have fled Ukraine, mainly women and children.

This event was organised by the HELP project “Supporting contextualisation of HELP modules/courses for legal professionals in times of war in Ukraine” developed as an urgent reaction to the Russian aggression against Ukraine and following the establishment of the so-called  “Asylum/Migration HELP e-Desks, managed by HELP tutors and legal experts to facilitate access of legal professionals to information about effective handling of cases at the national level related to refugees and displaced persons and training. The Asylum/Migration HELP e-Desks in the EU were established., coinciding with the start of the EU/CoE “HELP in the EU III” project as of 1 March 2022, financed by the EU and managed by the Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) Programme of the Council of Europe. .

The event, held in a mixed format, was attended by 30 professionals offline and more than 40 participants online (international organisation officials, NGO representatives, attorneys, and academics). It was broadcast live with viewers ranging from 200 to 700 depending on the sessions.

Kinga JENSEN-MAGYAR - The political adviser to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration and Refugees at the Council of Europe opened this Seminar by referring to the role of the SRSG and its fact-finding visits (aimed at assessing the situation of refugees and migrants and proposing tailor-made assistance on behalf of the COE to address their challenges). She has already conducted 4 fact-finding visits to 4 COE member states (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Moldova). See reports here. Ms. JENSEN-MAGYAR pointed out that all COE member states, especially neighbouring Ukraine, showed remarkable support and solidarity to the People of Ukraine fleeing the war. She also praised the activation for the first time of the TPD in the EU, thanks to which millions were accepted in the Schengen countries and got access to jobs, services and education from the very early days. She mentioned that the COE reacted swiftly to support the member states. Notably, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) issued a guidance note on addressing trafficking risks related to the war in Ukraine and the ensuing humanitarian crisis; the Lanzarote committee (to the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse) issued a checklist to ensure the protection of children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse; a publication on the protection offered by the Istanbul Convention was widely distributed; the COE Development bank provided financial assistance to the member countries and international organisations dedicated to supporting refugees from Ukraine. Finally, the HELP e-Desks on Asylum/Migration were created to ensure the most efficient way to reach out to the practitioners on the ground to protect the human rights of the fleeing, most vulnerable refugees.

Emmanuelle CRETIN-MAGAND - Team Leader of the Judicial Training Team at the European Commission, referring to the European Judicial Training Strategy for 2021-2024, noted that training of justice professionals is a constant priority of the Commission. After the war, the EU intensified its action, activating the TPD, providing financial support and specific training, including enhanced cooperation with Eurojust or the EU Genocide Network. As Ukraine and Moldova were recently granted candidate status for EU membership, judicial training remains crucial to accompany the necessary reforms. The Commission has been working closely with training providers and donors to ensure specific training to legal professionals. She underlined 3 key topics: crimes of genocide and war crimes, including sexual crimes; investigating technics of genocide and war crimes, including forensic, evidence gathering e-evidence; and assets seizing and freezing. Ms CRETIN-MAGAND finally welcomed the establishment of the HELP e-Desk on Asylum/Migration with the financial support of the EU. She underlined that the HELP e-Desk helps the judicial community face war challenges.

Andreas WISSNER - the UNCHR Representative to the European Institutions in Strasbourg, outlined the significant role of the UNHCR Office in Warsaw in support of adequate protection of Ukrainians in Poland and other countries in the context of the ongoing influx of Ukrainian refugees. He stressed that the HELP e-Desks are closely integrated on the same platform that allows legal practitioners to participate in the jointly developed flagship asylum and human rights course. More than 10 000 participants from across Europe have been enrolled on the HELP asylum and human rights course since 2017. He added that about 4 000 learners had completed the course in one of more than 25 available languages. 

In addition, the UNCHR and COE developed two more specialised courses on refugee children and on alternatives to immigration detention that are also available on the HELP platform. This continued engagement with HELP is possible thanks to the generous funding provided by the EU. Mr WISSNER finally announced the new tutored edition of the HELP course on asylum and human rights training for Polish legal professionals, which will be available by the end October 2022 on the HELP e-learning platform.

Aleksander KRYSZTOFOWICZ - Vice Dean, Warsaw Bar Association, welcomed the participants in the Bar premises and highlighted the role of Polish legal practitioners in assisting Ukrainian refugees, alongside the spontaneous solidarity from ordinary people. Just a few days after Russia attacked Ukraine, Polish lawyers set up a hotline to support Ukrainians arriving in Poland. He emphasised the importance of the legal professionals sharing their experience and knowledge in assisting Ukrainian refugees, as the latter will undoubtedly benefit in the long run.

Eva PASTRANA - Head of the Justice and Human Rights Training Division at the Council of Europe, explained that the HELP Programme as a landmark COE cooperation assistance programme that helps the Contracting States and COE neighbouring regions [South Mediterranean and Central Asia] to implement the COE standards. Its free online courses are public in the HELP e-learning platform, which can be easily accessed by anyone online. The flexibility of the HELP Programme and generous financial support from the EU allowed the COE to set up the Asylum/Migration HELP e-Desks shortly after the war started. The e-Desks provide practical information for all lawyers and legal professionals handling issues related to Ukrainian refugees.

The HELP e-Desks are gradually being fed with national legal resources and information as it becomes available in each country, particularly after the EU TPD reactivation. Moreover, the HELP e-Desks contain helpful links and practical tips for assisting legal professionals with refugees and displaced persons. Finally, the HELP e-Desks include online self-learning courses on topics such as Asylum and Human Rights, Refugee and Migrant Children, International Displacement, and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, based on which legal professionals can undergo fast and high-quality training. HELP e-Desks have already been set up in 16 countries (Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Moldova, Romania, Spain, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine). So far, the HELP e-Desks have connected and engaged more than 1000 legal professionals. The total number of users of the HELP e-learning platform grows each year. By September 2022 there were more than 110 000 users of the platform.

The HELP platform is advantageous because it provides information in different languages tailored for legal professionals from various jurisdictions. Apart from Asylum/migration courses, the platform also offers legal practitioners a wide range of courses on different topics, including topics linked to the Rule of Law such as ethics for judges, prosecutors and lawyers, freedom of expression, procedural safeguards in criminal proceedings access to justice for women, corruption prevention and many others.

During the tour de table, which followed Ms. PASTRANA’s presentation, Noemi ALARCON, Chair of Migration Committee, Council of Bar and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE), and HELP e-Desk manager in respect of Spain, spoke about the support given by the CCBE to the HELP e-Desks project. She also underlined the importance of the HELP e-Desks for legal professionals, as they put in one place essential information on different international and national asylum and migration regulations as well as EU and COE standards. She mentioned that the HELP platform is versatile in allowing legal professionals to apply the knowledge obtained through the courses to different situations, i.e. not only to give legal assistance or advice to Ukrainian refugees but to a broader range of persons fleeing their countries.

Viacheslav LIUBASHENKO - a Ukrainian attorney, and HELP e-Desk manager in respect of Ukraine, provided an overview of some of the challenges Ukrainians face every day due to Russian aggression. He noted that since the beginning of the war, Ukraine had faced a significant influx of internally displaced people from the Eastern and Southern parts of the country, where the hostilities mainly occur. Ukrainian IDPs face the problem of the absence of their ID documents, birth, and death certificates. In some cases, the documents in possession of Ukrainian IDPs are not recognised by the authorities [e.g. if such documents are issued by the so-called “authorities” on the temporarily occupied territories]. Housing, employment and education are among the top concerns for Ukrainian IDPs and refugees for the time being as “they need to construct new realities in the places of arrival”.  

Jacek BIAŁAS - a Polish Attorney and co-manager on the asylum/migration HELP e-Desk in Poland, outlined the importance of provision of information on protection of Ukrainian refugees to Polish legal practitioners who work with them. He mentioned several uncertainties in applying laws on the part of Polish authorities since the beginning of the war. He noted that before the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Poland had never experienced such an influx of refugees. Thus, many Polish lawyers were unprepared to face such a complex and a large number of cases related to the legal protection of the people fleeing the war. That is why he believes that the HELP e-Desk is a good initiative which provides additional information and training for the lawyers working with Ukrainian refugees.

Michaela CHLADEKOVA - a HELP e-Desk manager in respect of the Slovak Republic noted that Slovakia also was not prepared to have such a massive influx of refugees. More than 700 000 Ukrainians crossed the border, and around 90 000 of them received temporary protection status in this country. She outlined several practical difficulties caused by the uncertainty in applying and interpreting new laws and regulations on refugees by lawyers and state authorities in Slovakia. Therefore, proper training of legal practitioners who provide legal aid to Ukrainians was crucial.

Dilyana GITEVA - HELP e-Desk manager in respect of Bulgaria, informed the participants of the most recent challenges the refugees face in Bulgaria. Among others, the language barriers and lack of interpretation and translation provided to refugees, difficulties in access to education and lack of day-care facilities, which in turn affect the Ukrainian mothers' possibility to engage in professional activity in Bulgaria.

In her presentation Cecilia VERKLEIJ - Deputy Head of the Asylum Unit in the Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs at the European Commission outlined the main challenges and difficulties faced by the Member States and Ukrainian refugees in implementing the EU Temporary Protection Directive (TPD), which was activated on 4.3.2022, as otherwise the Asylum procedure/systems of the Member States would have been unable to cope with millions of refugees fleeing the Ukrainian war. It was implemented by the “26 EUMS”, Denmark, not being bound by the Directive, also took similar measures, as did countries such as Norway, Switzerland and even from the Western Balkans to align to the TPD. The European Commission completed a first analysis of the implementation of the TPD and came to the conclusion that there is a satisfactory level of implementation. However, some challenges still have to be addressed. Among them, are accommodation and winterisation. She underlined that the European Commission works with MS hosting Ukrainian refugees to find solutions. She also encouraged Ukrainian refugees to register in the EU country where they are staying to allow them to receive all benefits associated with the temporary protection status and the right to travel abroad and return to the hosting countries. She made a clear distinction between those refugees who wish to voluntarily return to Ukraine permanently/or for a longer period and those who want to travel to Ukraine for a short period (f.i. to attend funerals, collect papers or to take care of remaining family members), which should not affect their temporary protection status. According to Ms VERKLEIJ, refugees leaving the host country for a period of up to 60 days should be considered to have travelled back to Ukraine for a short period, allowing them to return to the hosting countries, provided they have valid documents confirming their temporary protection status.

Ms VERKLEIJ also informed that the Commission is trying to avoid situations when persons are registered in more than one Member State, which could lead to unjustifiably receiving benefits from more than one country. For this reason, a special platform was established that allows the authorities to identify double or multiple registrations and prevent such situations from happening.

She finally noted that in March 2022, the European Commission issued Operational guidelines on implementing the Temporary Protection Directive and the Council implementing Decision, including important chapters on Unaccompanied Minors (Chapter 5) and Trafficking in Human Beings (Chapter 6) noting that the majority of people fleeing Ukraine are women and children who need to be protected against violence and abuse. While shelter and education seem ensured to a large extent, finding jobs remain a challenge for Ukrainian refugees. Asked about the ‘temporary aspect of the TPD’, she acknowledged the difficulties of predicting the future. She noted the questions on taxation of refugees staying more than 180 days in a EUMS to be raised with DG TAXUD (of the European Commission).

Isabela ATANASIU - Policy Officer at the Legal Office at the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs at the European Commission, focused her presentation on a wide range of issues related to the protection of Ukrainian children fleeing the war. The Commission's Operational guidelines stressed the importance of ensuring that the fundamental guarantees and safeguards for unaccompanied children and separated minors are respected. She further referred to the Frequently Asked Questions on Registration, Reception and Care for the Unaccompanied and Separated Children fleeing from war in Ukraine published in the Temporary protection website section of the European Commission. In her presentation, she provided detailed examples of the measures suggested by the above operational guidelines and other regulations to protect this category of refugees. She highlighted a challenge as guardianship (documents) issued by Ukrainian authorities are not always automatically recognised by some EUMS authorities - though they should be, if issued by the competent Ukrainian authorities, and in application of the relevant provisions of the 1996 Hague Convention. She also mentioned the low number of unaccompanied children stricto sensu (as many of the children are accompanied by knowns adults or family members), though as parents/mothers (occasionally) travel back to Ukraine, children are left behind with other family members or friends in the receiving EUMS.

She also mentioned that another group of vulnerable refugees is children arriving from institutions based on bilateral agreements between the Member States and Ukraine. Ms ATANASIU informed that best practices regarding guardianship for unaccompanied and separated children coming into the EU from Ukraine were collected through the European Guardianship Network and published online. Finally, she provided an overview of the Commission's efforts to facilitate access to local schools for the children arriving from Ukraine, their proper reception and adaptation of the curriculum to their needs. On the specific needs of 16–17-year-old children, while under Ukrainian law they can travel alone and without the parents’ authorisation after the age of 16, once they reach EUMS, they need to be necessarily under ‘guardianship’, although more flexible solutions can be envisaged for their reception and care, taking into account that persons at this age have a higher degree of autonomy.

Gemma WOODS - Senior Legal Officer at the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Europe, mentioned that in June 2022, the UNHCR published the analysis on the EU Temporary Protection Directive in Practice. This paper demonstrates several good examples of innovative tools and measures deployed by the EU countries, including enhanced registration, access to information on procedures, expedited issuance of documentation, systemic approaches with multiple service providers operating in a sequential manner ("under one roof"), increased use of technology and digitalisation of systems including to lodge applications; as well as ensuring stronger linkages between status and rights.

She also mentioned that the UNHCR encouraged states to take an inclusive approach to apply temporary protection to Ukrainian nationals. In this regard, she said that some countries had expanded the application of temporary protection to Ukrainian citizens in line with UNHCR’s recommendations.

Ms WOODS also stated that it had been a positive experience seeing how the countries successfully implemented the Directive giving the refugees access to the rights guaranteed thereto. Still, some administrative, practical, and legal barriers have been affecting access to people's rights. As an example of such barriers, Ms WOODS mentioned the language barrier, and refugees' inability to provide some documents leading to their inability to benefit from access to education and employment. Finally, Ms WOOD stressed that the refugees are a valuable asset for the communities and that there have been good examples of mutually beneficial integration of Ukrainians, e.g. employment of Ukrainian healthcare workers or teaching assistants to the national healthcare or education systems.

Jadwiga MACZYNSKA - Head of the Information Analysis Sector at the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), provided an overview of several online resources set up by the EUAA as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The EUAA created a separate resource on its website dedicated to the TPD. She presented a series of different statistical reports and situational updates related to the TPD application that the EUAA collected. These reports are publicly available on the EUAA website. The EUAA also developed an interactive resource that maps policymaking and asylum authorities in the countries concerned. Moreover, the EUAA website provides a data visualisation resource that presents information on implementing temporary protection in more than 30 countries.

Nora RZADKOWSKI - Help e-Desk manager in respect of Germany, explained that at the beginning of the massive refugee influx Germany was not fully prepared, and it took some time to arrange the procedures for registering refugees and adopting some new laws. She also noted that refugees under the TPD enjoy more rights than those under the ordinary asylum procedure. For instance, new social rights for refugees were allocated, equalling their level to those provided to unemployed Germans. At the same time, Ms RZADKOWSKI noted that such a distinction between the rights of people enjoying temporary protection and ordinary refugees has led to discussions within Germany [about possible inequality of rights of refugees].

Ágnes BRUSZT - a Help e-Desk manager in respect of Hungary, speaking about the challenges coming from the TPD implementation in Hungary pointed out a systematic problem that the refugees from Ukraine do not receive enough information about the rights and benefits they are entitled to. There are also instances when instead of granting the temporary protection status, the authorities issue temporary residence documents, which allow the refugees to stay in Hungary for a short period, between 1 and 3 months. Another issue is the situation of third-country nationals who are fleeing Ukraine because of the war. This category of people is not entitled to protection under the TPD in Hungary, and there are practical obstacles to receiving protection under the ordinary asylum procedure. Among current problems, Ms BRUSZT also mentioned the lack of information provided to the applicants on the status of their applications for temporary protection, and the challenges of access to education in practice.

Alessio SANGIORGI - an Italian attorney and HELP e-Desk manager in respect of Italy, mentioned that his country experiences quite a considerable number of Ukrainian refugees, possibly because there had already been some 230 000 Ukrainians settled in the country before the war. Mr SANGIORGI mentioned that domestic courts have already developed their case law on recognition of the guardianship documents of Ukrainian refugees, having strongly encouraged the authorities to apply the Hague Convention [on Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents]. According to Mr SANGIORGI, a large number of lawyers are willing to assist Ukrainian refugees; therefore, there is a need to provide legal training for these professionals.

Noemi ALARCON - Chair of Migration Committee at the Council of Bar and Law Societies in Europe and HELP e-Desk manager in respect of Spain, said that the authorities worked quite efficiently in handling the applications of Ukrainian refugees. One of the changes in Spain is access to temporary protection for those who arrived in Spain from third countries. In practice, Spain denied temporary protection status to this category of refugees. She also stressed that the lack of recognition of qualifications creates obstacles to access to the profession and thus prevents the smooth integration of Ukrainian refugees into society.

Marie TRAQUINI - HELP e-Desk manager in respect of France, informed the participants that more than 93 000 Ukrainian refugees had received temporary protection status in France. Most Ukrainian refugees stay in the Île-de-France region and the southern region of France. She noted that there were no significant difficulties in receiving Ukrainian refugees. However, some problematic issues have been identified by legal practitioners. First, she mentioned that relevant legislation and practice of its application exclude certain categories of people from temporary protection. Notably, Ukrainian nationals who stayed in France before 24 February 2022 and foreign nationals who were working, studying or in the process of applying for asylum in Ukraine when the war started (they are the most concerned) have difficulties obtaining protection status. What is more, in some instances, the prefectures issue the decision obliging these people to leave the territory of France, which puts them in a complicated and even dangerous situation. She also noted the uncertainty regarding whether Ukrainians enjoying temporary protection in France can travel to Ukraine or within the EU.

Lenka VOJIROVA - a Help e-Desk manager in respect of the Czech Republic drew the participants' attention to the fact that the Czech authorities declare inadmissible applications for temporary protection on the grounds of temporary protection already granted in another Member State. She also held that there is a difficulty for temporary protection holders in the Czech Republic to apply for another residence permit. Equally, there are obstacles to obtaining temporary protection status for those who resided in the country before 24 February 2022. Finally, she mentioned that Russian or Belarusian citizens who had permanent residence in Ukraine are frequently denied temporary protection status in the Czech Republic. The report of the Czech Bar Association with experiences of Czech lawyers is available here.

Yulia CHERVATYUK - an advocacy expert at Ukrainian NGO Right to Protection, spoke about the documents of different categories of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Concerning the papers of ordinary citizens of Ukraine, she informed that certain steps were taken by Ukrainian and EU authorities towards recognition of the digital documents that are available for Ukrainians in the Diia application on their smartphones. She also spoke about the papers of a vulnerable group of people - refugees or persons granted complementary protection in Ukraine, stateless and undocumented persons. She held that some EU countries do not recognise refugee documents and deny temporary protection status to this category of people or provide such protection for a short period. Similar difficulties face stateless persons and undocumented persons fleeing Ukraine. This forces this category of refugees to return to Ukraine, which is not always safe.

Olga VORONTSOVA-MYKHAILOVA - Protection Officer at the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Europe, together with Statistics and Data analysis officer at the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Europe, Irma SIRUTYTE, provided an overview on the implementation of the protection profiling and monitoring exercise conducted by the UNHCR and its partners in Belarus, Bulgaria, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia between May and mid-August 2022. As a result of the interview of 23 053 Ukrainian refugees, the Protection Profiling and Monitoring factsheet was published in August 2022.

The speakers noted that 99% of respondents are citizens of Ukraine. Most are women (86%), holding higher levels of education (49%) with university or higher degrees and 27% with vocational training and diverse professional experiences.

They also noted that most respondents (80%) are separated from some of their immediate family members. Women and children represent 89% of all family members who left Ukraine together, and 12% of family members are older. Among those who travelled accompanied, 5% travelled with unrelated children.

Most respondents stay in hosted or rented accommodation (66%), while 30% remain in collective sites, planned sites and reception or transit centres. 12% of respondents have relatives in their host country. Respondents' top three urgent needs are cash, employment and accommodation.

The large majority (63%) report plans to stay in their current host country in the nearest future, with safety, family ties and employment as the main reasons. Only 13% report plans to return to Ukraine in the nearest future, but 64% are uncertain as to when exactly they would do so. The main reason behind the intention to return is the perception that the situation has improved, followed by economic reasons and the desire to return home and reunite with family members. 11% report plans to move to another host country, and 13% are uncertain about their plans.

Małgorzata JAŹWIŃSKA - a member of the Warsaw Bar association and co-manager of the HELP e-Desk for Poland, spoke about access to legal information and assistance to refugees in Poland. She noted that legal information for refugees in Poland could be provided at free centres for legal aid at the local level. However, these centres provide only legal information, not representation. Moreover, interpretation and translation are not offered at such centres, making access to legal information for refugees less effective. She also explained how the system of legal representation in asylum proceedings functions, noting again that lack of interpretation and translation are the main flaws preventing practical and effective access to legal representation of refugees.

Lorena Isla RODRIGUEZ - Senior Protection Officer at the UNHCR Representation in Poland, mentioned that the UNHCR office in Poland significantly grew from 7 staff to over 100 since the start of the war in February 2022. The UNHCR offices provide different kinds of support to Ukrainian refugees and closely work with the government to support their efforts to promote social inclusion and non-discriminatory approaches to asylum and protection.

Ms RODRIGUEZ also spoke about several organisations that provide legal aid to refugees, among them: Legal Aid Centre the Halian Niec, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Okręgowa Izba Radców Prawnych w Warszawie, Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej, Safe Passage, European Lawyers in Lesvos.

Ms RODRIGUEZ also provided an overview of Polish legislation on temporary protection, including rules on deactivation and reactivation of temporary protection status in Poland, difficulties, and particularities in laws for those refugees who want to leave Poland for a short or long period.  

Magdalena BARTOSIEWICZ - Coordinator of the Legal Aid Coordination Centre at the National Bar of Attorneys-at-Law (LACC), held that LACC was established in December 2021 to coordinate pro bono legal assistance to victims of the Polish-Belarusian border crisis. However, since  February 2022, the LACC has begun providing pro bono legal assistance to refugees from Ukraine. Legal aid was provided both online and offline. Cooperation with Ukrainian lawyers was also started as there was a need for knowledge of Ukrainian and Russian languages. Currently, 14 Ukrainian lawyers are working for the LACC. Each month between 1200-1500 consultations is provided to the refugees.

In September 2022, LACC opened a new professional website in four languages: Ukraine, Russian, Polish and English, containing information for Ukrainian refugees. To facilitate communication, the website includes a chatbot. LACC attorneys represent individuals before the authorities and national courts in most complex legal cases. Ms BARTOSIEWICZ assured the participants that the LACC would be there as long as its help was needed.

At the event's closing session, Delphine LENEUTRE - Legal Associate at the UNHCR Representation to the European Institutions in Strasbourg, stated that the response to Ukraine's refugee situation had highlighted Europe's capacity for an innovative, protection-based and pragmatic approach to asylum. She also outlined Poland's generosity in hosting the largest population of refugees from Ukraine in Europe and solidarity with the People of Ukraine. Ms LENEUTRE warmly thanked the high-profile experts and participants who contributed to the overall success of the Seminar. The discussion in the room and online made it possible to share experiences and good practices. It will help lawyers to better assist refugees in a timely, fair, and efficient manner.

She stated that now is the time for more consolidation and equal access to rights for all persons who need international protection and long-term protection solutions as the conflict prolongs. The discussions have highlighted that access to rights is particularly difficult for undocumented refugees and stateless persons. She cited Filippo GRANDI, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who at the very beginning of the crisis highlighted that “any acts of discrimination or racism must be condemned, and all people must be protected”. To conclude, Ms LENEUTRE made two suggestions, first that the joint UNHCR and COE HELP course on the protection of refugee and migrant children, which is already available and accessible in polish, is included in one of the next launching events and secondly, in view of the high interest in today’s event, that the protection of IDPs could become subject of a next e-Desk seminar.

Finally, and in conclusion, Olga KOSTENKO - Project coordinator at the Justice and Human Rights Training Division of the Council of Europe, thanked the participants and legal professionals for their fruitful interventions. She outlined the importance of the role of the Warsaw Bar Association, which warmly hosted the Seminar. The input of experts from the European Commission and the UNHCR was highly appreciated by participants. Finally, she thanked the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on Migration and Refugees, Leyla KAYACIK, for supporting this event and advocating the issue of protection of Ukrainian refugees in all her latest activities.

The presentations of the speakers are available on the following link.

The recordings of the Seminar are below:

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