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Human rights defenders will promote effective integration of ATO participants at the community level

The new project that will be implemented by several partner NGOs aims to enable ATO combatants and their families to learn how to defend their rights independently and address psychological problems. The project will also contribute to the effective integration of servicemen at the community level.

According to official data of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, 205,864 servicemen and employees of the Armed Forces of Ukraine received the status of a participant in combat operations since the beginning of the war on the Donbas (as of June 10, 2017).

However, official statistics do not include those faced with problems in the process of gaining the status of a veteran of the war (including a participant in hostilities) and still do not have a certificate.

Today a situation has arisen in which ATO participants and their family members need comprehensive legal and psychological aid. The Internet and the media contain a lot of information about the benefits of ATO participants, advice on their psychological and social rehabilitation, but the information is not structured, there are doubts about its reliability. Returning from the ATO zone, the demobilized servicemen often appear in actual "isolation" from society.

There are hardly ATO participants in each community, who cannot solve their own problems independently, they cannot establish cooperation with local self-government bodies and state authorities. It is impossible to solve all the problems of ATO participants at the state level, because veterans have specific needs at the community level.

Therefore, it is urgent to form an informed and responsible attitude at ATO participants towards participation in the community in order to resolve their own legal and psychological problems, as well as problems of other members of the community at the system level.

The NGO "Podilsky Legal League" (Khmelnytsky) acted as the leader of the initiative "Legal empowerment and social and psychological integration of ATO participants and their family members at the level of territorial communities".

In the Kharkiv oblast, the activities of the project will be implemented by Chuhuiv Human Rights Protection Group. In addition, the partner organizations involved in the project are: Kamyanets-Podilsky Lawyers Association, Information Resource Center “Legal Space”, Community Growth Center, Legal Unity and the Chernihiv Public Committee for the Protection of Human Rights. The initiative was supported by the International Renaissance Foundation.

Activities within the project will be carried out in two directions: provision of free legal aid and legal education.

In the direction of providing legal aid, the following measures are planned:

1) Organization of field receptions in places of compact placement of ATO participants;

2) Identification of priority problems of ATO participants and their families at the community level and their group resolution;

3) Systematization of information about target programs in communities; sending requests for the availability and performance of targeted programs; evaluation and analysis of program effectiveness, development of recommendations for their improvement.

In the direction of legal education, the following measures are planned:

1) Establishing cooperation with local self-government bodies, state authorities, organizations of war veterans, volunteers;

2) Conducting one-day field trips on the basis of territorial communities in different regions of Ukraine (Khmelnytsky, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Volyn oblasts);

3) Organization of a school for public activists among ATO participants on the ground;

4) Development of road maps for ATO participants with the involvement of the most active of them in the process of developing a road map and disseminating them among the target audience.

It is expected that as a result of the project, ATO participants and their families will be able to learn how to defend their rights independently, solve psychological problems, and the project will promote the effective integration of servicemen at the community level.

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