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WHO WE AREThe International Organization for Migration (IOM) is part of the United Nations System as the leading inter-governmental organization promoting since 1951 humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all, with 175 member states and a presence in over 100 countries. IOM has had a presence in Moldova since 2001.
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The story of Anastasia* and the support she received from IOM in the Republic of Moldova to obtain her daughter’s identity documents, lost while fleeing the war in Ukraine.
(*Anastasia has requested that her identity and related sensitive information be protected)
Chisinau. Anastasia, 31, from Ukraine, used to work as a medical assistant in a private clinic where she had also given birth to her first child at the end of January 2022, just a few weeks before the beginning of the war.
“When the Russian invasion began on February 24, I was in an emotional blockage for a few days. I hoped that everything would end soon, and life would return to normal. However, I realized that the situation was worsening, and I had to make one of the toughest decisions: to leave our home, our country, and the peaceful and beautiful life we had.”
She intended to head to the western region of Ukraine, which she thought was safer, but the Russian army had blocked all evacuation routes from where they were staying. Then, together with her daughter, they were forced to cross the regions occupied by the Russian army, and with the help of humanitarian organizations they reached the Republic of Moldova in autumn.
It was only within the borders of Moldova that Anastasia realized to her dismay that her daughter's identity documents issued by the Ukrainian authorities were lost during their escape.
“From that moment, the most stressful and difficult period of my life began.”
She tried to return to Ukraine to obtain her daughter's identity documents, but the border police did not allow them to leave the country, and the Moldovan child protection authorities were alerted about their case.
Anastasia felt that she had no way out. There was no longer any evidence of the identity of her daughter. She could not obtain any documents in Ukraine because the city where she gave birth was under the occupation of the Russian army, and no Ukrainian public service was operating in the region anymore.
In Chisinau, where they were based, Anastasia did not know anyone, had no money, no shelter, and she started collecting information on various humanitarian organizations to ask for immediate help.
“I called the International Organization for Migration. From its Facebook page I gathered information about their Airbnb program, which provides 30 days of housing support to Ukrainian refugees. From the beginning, the organization’s representatives were very receptive, and I received assistance. Thanks to this programme, I had the opportunity to calmly reflect on what to do next, in a safe shelter.”
It was December 2022. In this period, Anastasia found a lawyer in Ukraine who approached the court on her behalf regarding the loss of her daughter’s documents. Yet, there was no evidence to confirm her version and the first instance court in Ukraine rejected her request to recognize the mother-daughter kinship verification. The last option was to go to the Court of Appeal, although the chances were slim.
The problem of lack of documents seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle: they could not go to Ukraine to explain the situation directly, and they could not obtain any document from her city, which was under Russian occupation.
“In July 2023, still no one understood how to handle our ordeal and this legal issue, and we were advised once again to ask for assistance from the International Organization for Migration in Moldova.”
Lawyers and social workers from the IOM Moldova’s Protection Team organized a meeting with the child protection authority and discussed together the risks associated with the situation and possibilities for intervention. In compliance with all legal procedures in the country, IOM assisted Anastasia with legal advice and coordination with the child protection authority.
Bearing in mind the best interest of the child, who was at risk of a stateless status, IOM examined the Moldovan legislation and ultimately assessed that the only available solution was DNA testing to determine the relationship of kinship between Anastasia and her daughter.
On the 29th of September 2023, the DNA test results arrived after 14 days and fully confirmed the mother-daughter relationship.
“I think it was one of the happiest days of my life.”
The results of the DNA test were immediately sent to Ukraine, where a court hearing was scheduled. A few days later, the long-awaited news finally arrived: the Court of Appeal accepted the documents and used them as a basis to accept the request, to confirm the mother-daughter kinship, and to issue new child's identity documents.
“Thanks to IOM Moldova, we were able to guarantee my daughter safety, security and the opportunity to enjoy all her rights, and we found the peace and security we needed."