Stateless and at risk population and their needs for assistance

This sociological survey was conducted by GfK Ukraine within the framework of the Project “Identification and Assistance to the Stateless and At-Risk Population in Kyiv and Kharkiv regions”, funded by UNHCR in Ukraine and implemented by the NGO “Right to Protection”.

The main aim of this Project was to identify the stateless and at risk of statelessness population in two pilot areas: Kyiv city and the region and Kharkiv city and the region.

Project’s implementation was the first serious effort to:

  • understand the extent of the statelessness problem in the Kyiv, Kharkiv and surrounding regions;
  • identify protection and social needs, characteristics/demographics of the stateless and at-risk population in respective locations.

In addition, the possible ways of informing the stateless persons about legal assistance possibilities were researched.

The following vulnerable groups were surveyed:

  1. Persons older than 50 years (some part of elders in Ukraine still have USSR passports and for different reasons didn’t manage to receive Ukrainian passports)
  2. Roma people
  3. Homeless individuals
  4. Prisoners in penitentiary institutions
  5. IDPs (internally displaced persons)
  6. Stateless asylum seekers and refugees
Stateless Roma home

GfK Ukraine gathered the statistics on the number and distribution of each target group and built representative samples accordingly. 400 face-to-face interviews were conducted with the representatives of each group in March 2017 (2,000 in total, 100 stateless asylum seekers and refugees were surveyed additionally).

Majority of stateless persons do not legally exist

The number of stateless persons in each group is estimated using a network scale-up method adapted for the survey objectives. The estimation of the number of stateless persons in the two target regions (there are 24 regions in Ukraine in total) constitutes 19,000, while according to official statistics there are only about 1, 400 of such persons. Thus, the survey shows that majority of stateless persons do not legally exist and face considerable difficulties in realizing their basic rights.

An essential part of this report is the life stories of stateless people collected during the study. They clearly demonstrate the life tragedy of individuals who live among us like “legal ghosts”.

The survey confirmed assumptions that the stateless population in pilot regions is considerable, and the number of irregular stateless individuals vastly exceeds the ones appropriately documented as stateless by the Ukrainian government. In future, the survey methodology can be used for the estimation of the number of stateless persons at country level.


Based on the information gathered, a number of recommendations for government and non-government organizations were offered. Their implementation allows correcting the difficult situation of stateless persons in Ukraine.

The study confirmed the urgency of the problem of statelessness, allowed to get focused on specific actual aims and contributed to specific projects launching. The estimation of the number of stateless persons and evaluation of their needs allowed designing the projects on provision of legal aid to stateless persons.

Thus, in 2017-2018, UNHCR funded free legal aid for stateless and at-risk persons within the projects implemented by NGO “Right to Protection” and 2 other Ukrainian NGOs (NEEKA and “Desyate Kvitnya”) in 4 regions of Ukraine.

About the Authors:

Tamila Konoplytska, Senior Researcher at GFK Ukraine

Inna Volosevych, Head of Social and Political Research Department at GFK Ukraine