Ukraine - Representatives from Ukrainian NGOs, state bodies, migrant communities, diplomatic missions and human rights organizations have gathered in Kyiv to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Diversity Initiative (DI), a voluntary network combating racism and xenophobia in Ukraine, co-chaired by IOM and UNHCR.
The meeting, funded by the Embassies of Germany and South Africa in Ukraine, examined the achievements of five years of monitoring and reporting on hate crimes, advocacy with the government and promoting cultural diversity throughout Ukraine.
Delegates also discussed how to move the Network forward in order to address the current challenges: hate speech in media, lack of official reporting on hate crimes, prejudice against Africans and Muslims, and Roma integration.
“What often begins as a softer expression of dislike and intolerance can develop into institutionalized discrimination, hatred, verbal and physical abuse, hate crimes, which constitute a serious threat to the overall protection environment and hamper integration of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants into the host society,” noted UNHCR Deputy Regional Representative for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine Vanno Noupech.
“Migrants constitute a particularly vulnerable group often blamed for political, social and economic ills that are not of their making,” said IOM Ukraine Chief of Mission Manfred Profazi.
“There are currently more Ukrainians living and working abroad than foreigners in Ukraine. Reciprocal good treatment in the spirit of fellowship and understanding is key to making sure that all migrants live without fear of violence and enjoy access to the international human rights for which they are entitled, whether it is a Ukrainian construction worker in Portugal or an African student in Ukraine,” he added.
The Head of the Consular and Legal Department of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Ukraine Kurt Stoeckl-Stillfried noted that xenophobia is a common danger for many societies today. “It takes root where there is a lack of knowledge, where there is prejudice, where people don’t interact,” he said.
DI was co-founded by IOM, UNHCR, Amnesty International and other concerned civil society organizations in 2007 in response to an increase in the number of suspected racially motivated attacks in Ukraine.
It strives to uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and visible minorities in Ukraine. It currently includes over 65 organizations from the international, civil, corporate, and government sectors, as well as diplomatic missions and interested individuals. In 2011 the USA-based NGO Human Rights First named DI as one of three international best practices for combating hate crime.
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