skip to Main Content

New Grantee: Legal Development Network, Ukraine

Meet our newest grantee: the Legal Development Network (LDN), a coalition of Ukrainian organizations that promote people-centered justice through aid, education, and strategic advocacy.

“The Legal Development Network is providing humanitarian aid and legal assistance in the most difficult context imaginable,” says Atieno Odhiambo, director of the Legal Empowerment Fund, a program of the Fund for Global Human Rights. “This emergency grant will help them continue their life-saving work and protect human rights in Ukraine.”

Since the Russian military invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the country has endured heavy shelling of civilian areas, widespread fighting, the proliferation of weapons, and increased restrictions including curfews, martial law, and a state of national emergency. Across Ukraine, civilians have been targeted and cities have been destroyed. Nearly 3.5 million refugees have already fled the country. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes.

As conditions continue to deteriorate, both the work and the safety of grassroots activists is critical.

LDN is preparing to address the legal needs of Ukrainians as the humanitarian crisis deepens. As displaced people seek relief, resettlement, and restitution, lawyers from LDN will be ready at transit centers, offices, and online to provide free humanitarian and legal counseling on issues including relocation, temporary housing, migration, the destruction of buildings or personal property, disappearances, and other issues related to the invasion and imposition of martial law. An online map helps Ukrainians find local members of LDN’s network.

“We did not believe that the invasion would reach such a terrible scale,” says Yevgen Poltenko, executive director of LDN. “Ukrainian society has inevitably changed, becoming more cohesive, stronger, and more efficient. But along with these promising changes, the war poses a number of profound risks for society that need to be addressed.”

LDN is made up of 21 organizations operating in 16 regions of Ukraine. Since the invasion began, they have prioritized ensuring the safety of their members. At this time, all members are accounted for and in contact with LDN’s leadership. With support from the Fund, LDN will be able to begin relocating colleagues and their families who are in immediate danger.

As the Russian military moves toward Kyiv, LDN has partnered with local companies to create a logistics and coordination center in the capital city. With a volunteer team of more than 300 people, they’ve been able to order, process, and deliver crucial humanitarian aid—including medicine and food—to shelters, orphanages, and hospitals.

Photo courtesy of LDN.

Looking ahead, LDN is already anticipating where their services will be needed next. Compensation for destroyed property, registration of wartime births and deaths, and the receipt of state benefits will all require legal counseling.

They’re also thinking about how this war will reshape Ukrainian society. LDN’s efforts will be essential to maintaining long-term commitment to the rule of law, mitigating intolerance in the aftermath of the conflict, and addressing the mental health needs of Ukrainians, especially children, refugees, and the families of combatants.

The Fund is proud to support the incredible work of LDN as they defend human rights from violence and oppression.

×Close search