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How a displaced human rights activist provides legal support to IDPs in Lviv oblast

Publication date: March 20, 2024

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Maryna Kuprykova, a human rights activist from Kramatorsk, Donetsk oblast, was forced to evacuate to Lviv. There, she began providing legal assistance to internally displaced persons. In 2023, her initiatives were supported by the Legal Development Network (LDN) as part of a program to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to respond to the challenges of war. Read more about the results of the activities in the story below.

Changing trends in legal inquiries

At the beginning of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, lawyer Maryna Kuprykova moved from Donetsk to Lviv, where she actively provides legal assistance to other internally displaced persons. Photo from her personal archive

“Our activities now mainly involve providing legal advice to internally displaced persons and war victims,” says lawyer Maryna Kuprykova,We provide 30 legal consultations a month. In addition, we organize monthly events for internally displaced persons and war victims on legislative changes, social services for vulnerable groups, documentation of war crimes and social guarantees for military families.”

From March to May 2023, human rights defenders in Lviv oblast provided 305 legal consultations. The most frequently addressed issues are related to social security legislation, civil law (property and inheritance) and compensation for destroyed property, impaired health or loss of the breadwinner.

Maryna Kuprykova notes that the issue of paying utility bills for abandoned homes is quite common. In cases where utility bills continue to be charged, it will help to provide proof of evacuation along with an application for recalculation of utility bills. As a rule, such actions result in the termination of charges.

Another frequent request is the issue of obtaining the status of a child who suffered as a result of hostilities and armed conflicts. An internally displaced person who now lives in Novoyavorivsk, Lviv Oblast, turned to the lawyer for help in obtaining such a status. The case was moved forward after receiving the necessary package of documents about the family’s place of residence and sending them to the Service for Children. After reviewing them, the city council decided to grant the status of child victims of hostilities. Similar appeals had been made before, but over the past year their number has increased significantly and they have become systematic.

Recently, the number of inquiries regarding the procedure for applying for accommodation allowance for internally displaced persons has increased, as last year there were significant changes in the procedure for payments to this category of persons. We also receive a lot of requests from family members of military personnel regarding social and pension benefits and situations related to the loss of a breadwinner and receiving a one-time financial assistance in connection with the death of a person,” explains Maryna Kuprykova.

Accessibility of legal aid

“Every month I visit the places of temporary residence, conduct individual consultations and leave contacts so that people can address their ‘hot’ issues later, because emergency counseling is also available by phone or email,” says Maryna Kuprykova.

When the lawyer receives inquiries about specific aspects of the law, she organizes thematic meetings for IDP groups in communities in cooperation with representatives of local IDP councils.

A recent event in the Zolochiv community to discuss the procedure for payments to IDPs brought together about 15 participants. Most of them expressed their intention to return to the temporarily occupied territories, where they have surviving housing and do not have to pay rent. They are also considering returning to cities near the combat zones (Druzhkivka, Lyman, Kramatorsk, Selydove). Their income exceeds UAH 9444 and does not allow them to receive assistance, but this is not enough to rent housing and meet their basic needs.

Lawyer Maryna Kuprykova tells the IDPs of the Lviv community about social guarantees. Photo from personal archive

Internally displaced persons are provided with comprehensive support as they are in difficult life situations. Sometimes IDPs face situations when they are not paid the money they are due and cannot solve this on their own. In such cases, the lawyer sends requests to the social security authorities and provides further support until the funds are received.

In one of the humanitarian hubs for IDPs from Donetsk oblast, Maryna Kuprykova met with representatives of organizations providing assistance to IDPs. The participants discussed the problems and prospects for the integration of IDPs into communities, as well as recent changes in legislation. Photo from the personal archive

Lawyer Maryna Kuprykova continues her activities, receiving support from the network as part of the Eastern Human Rights Center, which joined the LDN in March 2024. Her future plans include development of psychological assistance and search for new approaches to reach a wider audience.

The material was created with the support of the international charitable platform GlobalGiving, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The content of the publication is the sole responsibility of the public union “Legal Development Network”.

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