Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Statement on Ukraine

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) at its plenary meeting of 10 March has set out the need for a sustained focus on the human rights and equality impacts of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The Commission is proud as Ireland’s national human rights institution and national equality body to see the solidarity of our national response, including the thousands of households registered for hosting war refugees from Ukraine, generous personal giving, and the State’s proactive welcome and support to incoming refugees.

The Commission is clear of the need for continued focus across a number of key areas.

The State must do all possible within our key EU and UN Security Council Memberships, and our upcoming Council of Europe Presidency (May-November 2022) to facilitate the unhampered exodus from Ukraine of those forced to leave. There must be a particular focus on disabled people, people currently housed in Institutions in Ukraine, and those who because of ethnicity or race are facing additional blockages to fleeing the fighting.

The Commission notes that the positive State response to those fleeing the war must also be grounded in, and reflect the need to improve and streamline the practice and processes for all refugees seeking international protection and family reunification in Ireland, whether from Europe, Africa, the Middle-East or elsewhere globally.

As Ireland’s Independent National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, the Commission is clear that the experience from recent war-induced refugee crises is a pattern that criminal gangs take advantage of the most vulnerable. Therefore, we must take a steps to avoid an added crisis of human trafficking and human rights abuses, including for example:

  • Provision of clear information on Human Trafficking in Ukrainian (and other relevant languages) with easy contact points.
  • Raising awareness of the employment rights of refugees on temporary permits, allied with additional inspections to protect against labour exploitation.
  • Provision of immediate housing with attention to the gender-specific, age-specific and trauma response needs of refugees.
  • Protection against bogus and exploitative assistance offers to refugees in Ireland, including access to a reporting mechanism for such approaches.

Sinéad Gibney Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The unprovoked attack on Ukraine by the Russian military has devastated people’s lives, destroyed families, and left the people fleeing for their lives open to exploitation and abuses.

“The response to the Ukraine war from Ireland’s communities, civil society organisations and our Government has been overwhelmingly positive. Ireland is in a key geopolitical position within the UN, EU and Council of Europe to ensure that human rights and equality are placed at the heart of our global response over the hard months and years ahead.

“This is moment for Ireland to stand up for our common humanity with the people of Ukraine, but also to consider the people already seeking International Protection with us, and to plan for those who will, sadly due to war and persecution follow with bags and children in hand to our shores.”


For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:

The Irish Refugee Council is maintaining an updated information service for people coming to Ireland from Ukraine –

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality, and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.