September 7, 2014
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Letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

6 September 2014

Ambassador Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Excellency:

The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations (WFUWO), which represents 29 women’s organizations in 18 countries of the Ukrainian global diaspora, is in receipt of the preview text of your opening statement to the upcoming 27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council that will convene on Monday, September 8, 2014.

While we appreciate your expressed concern and the watchfulness of your office over the situation in Ukraine, we are also dismayed at the lack of clarity in your statement as to the source of the aggression perpetrated upon Ukraine’s territorial integrity and state sovereignty.

Regrettably, the conflict in the war zones of eastern Ukraine does necessitate actions called for by international humanitarian law.

Also, regrettably, your statement does not clearly state that the stealth invasion and annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation violated fundamental international laws, and that it is the further invasion and continuous escalation by the Russian Federation of armed conflict on Ukraine’s territory that deepens the existing impasse and threatens world peace.

The WFUWO continues to be concerned about the human rights abuses discussed in the most recent UNOHCHR report on Ukraine dated August 17 2014. These include: the increasing casualties of combat; the violence, lack of services, and economic difficulties faced by non-combatants; the inefficient evacuation to safety from the war zone of institutionalized, children, the elderly and disabled; the intense discrimination of Ukrainian nationals, Crimean Tatar and other minorities. These problems stem from the illegal activities of the armed groups supported, manned and supplied with military equipment by the Russian Federation.

According to the UNOHCHR report on Ukraine dated August 17 2014, the evacuation of institutionalized children started too late and was not properly coordinated, and armed groups prevented the evacuation of children from the conflict zone to safe areas in Ukraine. As a result, Ukrainian orphans and other institutionalized children were removed from Ukraine and sent to Russia, a grave violation of several UN conventions and treaties. After a public outcry, to which our women’s federation also contributed, a number of these children were returned to Ukraine due to the joint efforts of the Ukrainian and Russian Federation Ombudsmen and others.

As a federation of organized Ukrainian women, we are horrified by the kidnapping into the Russian Federation of Ukrainian air force pilot Lt. Nadiya Savchenko and by the news that Russian authorities are planning to confine her to the infamous Serbsky Institute in Moscow to have her undergo “forensic psychiatric evaluation.” The Serbsky Institute in Moscow has a notorious reputation for human rights abuses; during confinement there, Soviet dissidents were treated with psychotropic drugs and were subjected to profound psychological abuse. We fear for Lt. Savchenko’s health and safety, and have grave doubts that her human and legal rights will be respected.

As a federation of organized Ukrainian women, we express our solidarity with the members of the many chapters of the Committee of Mothers of Soldiers of Russia, whose children forcibly are sent to risk life and limb in the illegal struggle for Ukraine’s eastern territories. Faced with evidence of secret deployment and silenced press coverage of military funerals, the protest of the Soldiers’ Mothers has only earned them repression and official denigration having been labeled “foreign agents” by their own Russian Federation government.

As a federation of organized Ukrainian women, we also remind the world that our compatriots, the Crimean Tatar community, which is proud of its status as Ukraine’s indigenous people, and which is desirous of its Ukrainian, not Russian, citizenship, has suffered enough. The 1940 genocide and forced deportation of Crimean Tatars of 1944 is being replayed in current time. We remind the world that Ukraine has legal stewardship of Crimea by international law.

We regard with trepidation the new front at Mariupol opened up recently by renewed Russian invasion. The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, the Honorable Yuriy Sergeyev, has stated that the current tactics and strategy employed by the Russian Federation are similar to those used in conflicts in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Osettia, and Moldova’s Transdniester breakaway region. These actions are not taken to protect the rights of the residents of the regions; rather they are aggressive moves instigated by the Russian Federation to destroy the territorial integrity of neighboring nations and arrogant disregard for international norms and established state sovereignty.

The fundamental principles of responsible and respectful adherence to international norms are being violated by the Russian Federation in pursuit of its own geopolitical and economic interests. The actions of the Russian Federation must not be allowed to continue with impunity.

We ask you to make a strong statement of condemnation of the Russian Federation for its unprovoked, violent and unilateral invasion of a sovereign nation—for actions that are costing human lives and directly threatening world peace.

We congratulate your Excellency on your appointment as the new United Nations Commissioner of Human Rights and look forward to the official OHCHR report concerning the situation in Ukraine at the conclusion of the deliberations of the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

We wish you a most productive session.

With all respect,

Irene Orysia Sushko
World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations

September 4, 2014
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WFUWO Named to Prestigious Top 25 Women of Influence™ Ranking

Irene (Orysia) Sushko Joins Ranks of Canada’s Most Influential Female Executives

The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations (WFUWO) is proud to announce its President, Irene (Orysia) Sushko, C.M. has been named as one of this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence™ by Women of Influence, Inc., North America’s leading organization dedicated to the advancement of women. This prestigious ranking celebrates and showcases the accomplishments of Canadian senior executives who have achieved the highest levels of professional success and have made a significant difference in their field. Irene was one of only five women applauded for their contribution and influence in the NGO category.

“The level of influence, stature and accomplishments of this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence is without question, outstanding and unparalleled,” said Carolyn Lawrence, President and CEO of Women of Influence. “Although this year’s women have varied backgrounds, professions, personalities and skills, they all share the same passion, ambition and drive to make meaningful and transformational contributions to the Canadian economy, their communities, their workplaces, and to the next generation. They are women of influence in every sense of the word.”

Irene (Orysia) Sushko, C.M. will be profiled alongside fellow recipients in the winter issue of Women of Influence magazine. But that’s not all – from September 2nd to September 15th, fans and supporters are encouraged to show their support and vote for Irene as the woman they would like to see featured on the cover of this marquee issue. This flagship edition will be available November 21, 2014.

“Thank you for this profound honour”, beamed Irene. “To stand alongside such powerhouse women as one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence for 2014, is a truly humbling privilege. May Canadian women continue to blaze trails in every field of business, government and community, in this nation and across the globe, and may we continue to celebrate these achievements with recognitions such as the Top 25 Women of Influence. Celebrating, supporting and encouraging one another in our varied endeavours is critical to broadening the scope of opportunities available to all Canadian women.”

Irene’s achievements will also be celebrated on December 4, 2014, at the Deloitte Women of Influence Luncheon at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s 25th Premier and the first woman to serve in this role, will be headlining this event. Ranked among this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence™, her talk will focus in part on how she made history as the first female Premier in Ontario politics and how she is handling the pressures of the public eye.

For a full list of this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence™, visit www.womenofinfluence.ca.

About the Top 25 Women of Influence™

Now in its fourth year, the Top 25 Women of Influence™ recognizes a select group of executives who have are influential in business, health, non-government organizations, professional services and the public sector. Recipients are selected based on both accomplishment and the magnitude of their influence over the past year, including number of employees, awards, board memberships, funds raised, business deals initiated and/or led, and published work. Having made a significant difference in their fields, these women serve as important role models for future female leaders across Canada. For more information, visit: www.womenofinfluence.ca/events/top-25.

About Women of Influence

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Women of Influence Inc. is North America’s leading organization dedicated to the advancement of women. It offers solutions to women through corporate consulting on Gender Intelligence, professional coaching, events, and media. It produces and hosts the renowned Deloitte Women of Influence Luncheon Series, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards and the Top 25 Women of Influence, in addition to the publishing the Women of Influence quarterly magazine. Women of Influence has a community and reach of 120,000 in nine cities across North American including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, New York City, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit: www.womenofinfluence.ca.

August 13, 2014
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Справа Дітей Сиріт


12 серпня, 2014р.

Представнику Уповноваженого Верховної Ради
з прав людини, недискрімінації те гендерної рівности
Аксані Філіпішиній

Шановна пані Аксано!

Щиро дякуємо Вам за вичерпну відповідь на наш лист 17го липня 2014 в якому висловлюємо стурбованість усіх складових членів Світової Федерації Українських Жіночих Організацій щодо дотримання прав дітей які перебувають у державних установах Донецької та Луганської областей.

Наші українські жіночі організації в діаспорі традиційно підтримують українських сиріт, сиротинці та інтернати, і глибоко цікавляться захистом прав на життя і здоров’я таких дітей України.

Ми вдячні за Ваші старання і за працю Уповноваженого Верховної Ради України з прав людини Валерії Луткавської у цій важні справі. Надіємося позитивних вислідів у дальших заходах для безпечного виїзду дітей із зони воєнних дій в безпечнішу територію України.

З повагою,

Орися Сушко
Голова СФУЖО

Марта Кічоровська Кебало
Головний Представник СФУЖО при ООН/ЕКОСОР

July 29, 2014
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WFUWO and the Blue Heart Campaign

Encourages Ukrainian Communities Worldwide to Support the July 30 Inaugural Launch as The United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons Award Given to Canadian Author and Journalist Victor Malarek in Recognition of his Anti-Trafficking Efforts


The Blue Heart has become the international emblem of the fight against human trafficking. The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations is proud to have been a partner in the Blue Heart campaign since the initiative’s inception in 2008.

In an effort to increase the awareness around the issue of human trafficking, the United Nations has chosen July 30, 2014, as first World Day against Trafficking in Persons, promoting the message of the Blue Heart campaign internationally, aimed at stopping the plight of the millions of women, men and children victims, as well as at encouraging people to take action to prevent this crime. (More information available at www.endht.org).

Immediately after the launching of the Blue Heart campaign on 5 March 2008 by The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa  at the Women’s World Awards in Vienna, the WFUWO’s Anti-Trafficking Committee, then chaired by our current president, Orysia Sushko, worked with the UNODC to promote the Blue Heart campaign in the Ukrainophone diaspora, as well as in Ukraine. The WFUWO’s committee translated the Blue Heart materials into Ukrainian, materials only available at that time in the official languages of the UN. The WFUWO sponsored several workshops and campaign launches in Ukraine, including in the city of Lviv (2009; 2012) and in the Ukrainian communities of North America.

In promoting the Blue Heart campaign, the WFUWO joined forces with Canada’s pro-active MP Joy Smith, working closely with the Canadian government on the Anti-Trafficking effort, and with the award-winning author of the non-fiction publications “The Natashas” and “The Johns” Victor Malarek and Rachel Durchstag, CEO of Chicago Alliance against Sexual Exploitation.

In Toronto, on July 18, 2014, Orysia Sushko (center), President of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations presented author and journalist Victor Malarek (right) with his second award from the Joy Smith Foundation. Canadian MP Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (left), was also present at the event, a fundraiser for the Petro Jacyk Educational Foundation.

In Toronto, on July 18, 2014, Orysia Sushko (center), President of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations presented author and journalist Victor Malarek (right) with his second award from the Joy Smith Foundation. Canadian MP Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (left), was also present at the event, a fundraiser for the Petro Jacyk Educational Foundation.

On July 18, 2014, on behalf of MP Joy Smith, WFUWO President Orysia Sushko had the honour and pleasure of presenting Victor Malarek with an award from the Joy Smith Foundation, recognizing his outstanding contribution to raising the awareness of the heinous crime of human trafficking. MP Joy Smith committed herself to the fight against human trafficking, working to raise awareness and rescue victims.  In order to assist her in this effort, she established the Joy Smith Foundation to raise awareness and provide tangible support to organizations dedicated to ending human trafficking. Malarek is completing a book that will feature the intersection the issues of trafficking and orphans.  WFUWO is pleased to provide financial support for this publication, scheduled to be released this fall.

Human trafficking is a global problem and one of the world’s most shameful crimes, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world and robbing people of dignity. Traffickers deceive women, men and children from all corners of the world and force them into exploitative situations every day. While the best-known form of human trafficking is for the purpose of sexual exploitation, many victims are trafficked and exploited for labor.

In Ukraine, the problem remains particularly acute. Despite significant efforts on the part of the Ukrainian government to eliminate human trafficking, Ukraine does not yet fully correspond to even minimum world standards in this field, according to a 2013 report produced by the research institute CARIM-East and financed by the European Union. The report further states “the problem of human-trafficking is very pressing for Ukraine. Despite certain successes achieved by the government, the risk of falling into the hands of human traffickers remains the most dangerous risk associated with outward labor migration.”

July 25, 2014
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Надія Савченко

Світова Федерація Українських Жіночих Організацій висловлює глибоке обурення діями терористів – викраденням та переміщенням на територію Російської Федерації українського військового льотчика Надії Савченко, та незаконного її утримання у слідчому ізоляторі.

СФУЖО засуджує незаконне ув’язнення Надії Савченко на території Російської Федерації та закликає до негайного її звільнення, а також звільнення всіх заручників, яких тримають в Україні та Росії.

July 25, 2014
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Nadia Sawchenko

The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations expresses deep concern over the terrorists’ actions in Ukraine, specifically the kidnapping of a Ukrainian Air Force officer Nadia Sawchenko and her unlawful transfer to a Russian prison.

WFUWO condemns this unlawful action and calls for her immediate release, along with others who are being unlawfully held in Russian prisons.

July 25, 2014
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Лист в справі дітей-сиріт

Складові організації Світової Федерації Українських Жіночих Організацій дізналися про те, що українські діти-сироти в Донецькій області знаходяться під реальною загрозою силового вивезення з України до Росії незаконними окупантами. Відповідно до Четвертої Женевської конвенції, Статті 49, окупантам забороняється здійснювати примусове індивідуальне переселення осіб, що перебувають під захистом. Крім того, Стаття 78 Додаткового протоколу I до Женевської конвенції передбачає, що “Жодна сторона, що перебуває в конфлікті, не вживає заходів щодо евакуації дітей, крім як своїх власних громадян в іноземну державу”.

Викрадення дітей є грубим порушенням не лише Женевської конвенції, але й інших конвенцій і резолюцій ООН. За даними публікації ООН “Шість грубих порушень прав дітей в ході збройних конфліктів: правові основи”, “викрадення дитини порушує права дитини і сім’ї, як це визнано в Конвенції про права дитини, Міжнародному пакті про громадянські і політичні права і Загальній декларації прав людини”.

Масштабність навислого порушення посилюється наслідками, які часто слідують за викраденням дитини в зоні конфлікту, у тому числі й торгівля людьми і поневолення. Діти, а зокрема діти-сироти, потребують спеціального захисту, тому що вони особливо вразливі. Під час швидко зростаючого збройного конфлікту в Східній Україні діти стоять перед дуже серйозною небезпекою експлуатації з боку торговців людьми, як тільки вони будуть вилучені з дитячих будинків під приводом їхнього захисту. Без контролю з боку неупередженого агентства, як наприклад, Канцелярії Спеціального представника Генерального секретаря ООН з проблем дітей та збройних конфліктів, діти перебувають перед високим ризиком знущання і експлуатації.

Ми обурені погрозами окупантів Донецької області, а зокрема загрозою викрадення і насильницької депортації українських сиріт, що за співучасті в цьому Росії, було б рівносильно військовому злочину.

Ми закликаємо Уряд України у майбутньому запобігти насильницькому вивезенню дітей, вимагати негайного повернення викрадених дітей та надати безпечний притулок для дітей, які в даний час проживають у зруйнованих війною Східних областях України. Крім того, ми закликаємо органи ООН, Дитячий фонд ООН, Комітет ООН з прав дитини, Управління ООН в справах наркотиків і злочинності, Верховного комісара ООН з прав людини, Спеціального представника Генерального секретаря ООН з питань дітей і збройних конфліктів – втрутитися від імені дітей-сиріт України.

З повагою,

Орися Сушко
Голова СФУЖО

July 22, 2014
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Security of Orphans in Ukraine’s War Zone

The member organizations of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations have received news that Ukrainian orphans in the Donetsk region are under imminent threat of being forcibly removed from Ukraine to Russia by illegal occupiers. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49, an occupier may not forcibly deport protected persons. Further, Article 78 of additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention prescribes that “no party to a conflict shall arrange for evacuation of children, other than its own nationals, to a foreign country.”

The abduction of children is a grave violation not only of the Geneva Convention but also other UN conventions and treaties. According to the UN publication, The Six Grave Violations against Children During Armed Conflict: The Legal Foundation, “the abduction of a child violates the rights of the child and family, as recognized by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the ICCPR and the UDHR.”

The magnitude of the impending violation is compounded by the consequences that often follow a child’s abduction in a conflict zone, including trafficking and enslavement. Children, and particularly orphans, need special protection because they are especially vulnerable. During the rapidly escalating armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, the children are in extreme danger of being exploited by traffickers once they are removed from their orphanages under the pretext of protecting them. Without oversight by an impartial agency such as the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, the children are at high risk of abuse and exploitation.

We are outraged at the threats of the occupiers of the Donetsk region, namely, the imminent abduction and forcible deportation of Ukrainian orphans, and at Russia’s complicity in an action, that if carried out, would be tantamount to a war crime. We call on the Ukrainian government to demand the immediate return of any abducted children, to prevent the forcible deportation of any children in the future, and to assure a safe haven for the children currently living in the war-ravaged eastern regions of Ukraine. Further, we call on the UN organs—UNICEF, the UN Committee on Children’s Rights, UNODC, the OHCHR, the UN Under-Secretary-General on Children as Combatants and Victims in Conflict — to intervene on behalf of the orphans of Ukraine.

Irene Orysia Sushko
World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations

July 20, 2014
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Малайзії 17

17 липня 2014р. світ сколихнула звістка про збиття терористами пасажирського літака над територією України. Світова Федерація Українських Жіночих Організацій висловлює щирі та глибокі співчуття рідним і близьким пасажирів та членів екіпажу пасажирського літака авіакомпанії “Malaysia Airlines”, що стали жертвами аварії в Донецькій області.

В цій страшній аварії загинуло 298 осіб, серед котрих 80 дітей. Вони були громадянами різних країн – територіально далеко розташованих від України. Але ця трагедія вкотре продемонструвала цілому світові – що ми усі повинні жити в мирі, та те, що немає чужої війни і що ми усі взаємно залежні та пов’язані.

Знищення цивільного літака є жахливим злочином. Це лише один із багатьох злочинів, які вчинили проросійські терористи за останні місяці на території України.

СФУЖО закликає міжнародне співтовариство вжити термінових заходів з розслідування та притягнення винних до відповідальності.

July 20, 2014
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On Malaysia Flight 17

On July 17, 2014 the entire world was shocked at the tragic downing of a passenger plane over the territory of Ukraine.

The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations expresses its sincere and deepest condolences to the families and friends of the passengers and crew of a “Malaysia Airlines” aircraft. May the victims of the airplane disaster in the Donetsk region rest in peace.

This horrific crime took the lives of 298 people, 80 of them were children. They were citizens of various countries – geographically located far from Ukraine. But this tragedy has once again shown the world, that we should all live in peace and that we are all mutually dependent and connected.

Destruction of a civil aircraft is an appalling crime. This is just one of the many crimes that have been committed by the pro-russian terrorists in recent months on the territory of Ukraine.

WFUWO urges the international community to take immediate action to investigate and bring those responsible to justice.