They are transiting the Ukraine and other countries that surround the European Union in hopes of getting across borders into countries like Germany where they stand a better chance of being granted asylum.
Since 6 January, 58 Somalis, all from the Mogadishu region (13 women, including 7 minors, and 45 men, including 17 minors) who are detained in Zhuravychi detention centre near Lutsk are on hunger strike. On 29/1, they were subsequently attacked by riot police who forcefully took them to the dining room to take pictures of the refugees eating.
The hunger striking refugees demand that:
1) Somali asylum seekers are granted asylum status in Ukraine.
2) They are released from detention.
3) Asylum seekers are provided with documents so they cannot be arrested.
4) There is an end to the police harassment of asylum seekers.
5) No asylum seeker is to face re-arrest after a period of detention.
The detention centre where the Somali and other refugees are kept was set up in 2008 with funds from the EU, € 7.2 million from the ‘Capacity Building in Migration Management’ programme (CBMM), and under IOM management. Another ten EU-funded detention centres are planned.
Ukraine not safe for refugees:
It has been widely and internationally agreed by UNHCR, IOM, ICMPD and others that Ukraine does not live up to its obligations under international law and is thus not a safe country for refugees.
Somalis transit Ukraine attempting to get to the EU where their chances of being granted asylum improve:
For several years, Somalis have been using Ukraine as a transit route from Somalia via Russia to the EU, not in large numbers but a few hundred each year. Once in the EU, they try and continue they journeys to the western countries. There, they usually apply for asylum knowing that it is only there that they stand a chance of being recognised. For instance, in Germany, in 2010, 2,466 Somalis had applied for asylum, around 5 percent of the total. The recognition rate for Somalis was 41.4 percent, three times more than the national average…
In Ukraine people with “exotic” appearances are detained—guess those Ukrainians didn’t hear that ethnic profiling is politically incorrect:
In 2010 and 2011, Ukrainian authorities are reported to rounding up migrants, in Kyiv they ‘harass merchants at Troyeshchyna market; racism, corruption seen’ notably of ‘non-Slavik appearance’ (Kyiv Post, 5/11/2010) and in Kharkiv they ‘carry out raids at the markets and railway stations of the city. People with exotic appearance are checked their documents and established whether they stay in Ukraine legally.’