Foreign prisoners of the Volyn deportation center suffer from cold, power outages and communication breakdowns

The Global Detention Project reported disturbing news about the Volyn Temporary Stay Center for Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons in Zhuravychi (Ukraine). Despite the war, the Volyn detention center continues to function. Now 44 non-citizens of Ukraine are held there – 42 men and 2 women.

Due to shelling by Russia in recent weeks, much of Ukraine has experienced power outages. The center’s inmates also report power outages, cold rooms due to interruptions in heating, problems with cellular communications, and a sparse supply of hot water. Under these conditions, the winter cold seriously threatens the well-being and safety of prisoners.

In spring, the GDP announced the release from the center of some foreign citizens who continued to be held in custody in the first months of the war. Then it was mainly students and labor migrants from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Sudan, who were detained for violating migration laws. Most of them asked to be sent to their countries of citizenship as soon as possible. Today, the population of the residence center has changed: it contains ethnic Tatars, Dagestanis, Russians, Azerbaijanis, Armenians and Uzbeks, asylum seekers in Ukraine due to their persecution for political or religious beliefs. If they are “evacuated”/returned to their homeland, they will face persecution. However, the Ukrainian authorities are likely to view these citizens with suspicion, suggesting that they are associated with the aggressor country.

The continued detention of migrants and asylum seekers in Ukraine violates international legal standards that require the release of persons held in administrative detention amid ongoing hostilities. Additional Protocol 1, Article 58C of the Geneva Conventions (1949) requires all parties to a conflict to take the necessary measures to protect civilians under their control from the effects of war.

In a war that is causing destruction and suffering throughout Ukraine, it is imperative that the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who find themselves in the conflict zone are not left without attention. Ukraine should consider the immediate release of all foreign nationals detained for immigration reasons due to the ongoing hostilities. The GDP also calls on international and regional organizations to help ensure the safety of those held in the deportation center in accordance with their powers.