UNDP identified solutions for internally displaced people in Ukraine

09 Jul 2014

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Around 80,000 people have had to leave their homes in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea since May as the conflict in Ukraine has unfolded. For many of them the risk of falling into poverty and social exclusion is increasing rapidly. “This year Ukraine for the first time has faced the problem of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and UNDP stands ready to assist the Government of Ukraine to resolve it,” said Inita Pauloviča, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Ukraine. As a first step aimed at developing an effective response strategy, a round-table on immediate and mid-term responses for IDPs was organized by UNDP in Ukraine, the Institute of the Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and the Analytical Center “New Social and Economic Policy”. Ensuring the safety and security of the IDPs, protection of their human rights, and resolving other immediate issues that they face were in the focus of the discussion.

According to the UN data, there are considerable gaps in the state strategy to protect IDPs. The national authorities did not issue formal instructions on how to register and assist displaced persons, leading to an array of conflicting practices across the country. Regional authorities are still waiting for instructions from the national level on funding allocations for IDPs from the Eastern regions. There is also a critical need to revise the Law "On legal status of displaced persons”, which should provide a clear and complete definition of a displaced person, criteria for granting the status of IDP, and the timeframes of the status of IDP.

"Strengthening the cooperation of all parts of Ukrainian society for the development of an effective system of support for internally displaced people should be a top priority. Decision-making in this area should be based on scientific research and Ukrainian science is ready to work in this area," noted Ella Libanova, Director of the Institute of the Demography and Social Studies.

“It is essential to have a complex social assessment measuring the behaviors, plans and needs of IDPs in Ukraine,” underlined Olga Balakireva from the Institute of Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. “We have to define the priorities for rehabilitating IDPs. Successful reintegration of internally displaced families would require identifying existing problems, determining scale and direction of the desired displacement, and exploring local labor market demand.”

Difficulties in gathering and verifying information and a lack of unified actions in some way hamper the efforts to tackle the main challenges faced by displaced persons. “It is important to unite efforts to collect information on the people`s needs,” emphasized Inita Paulovica. Among the most critical challenges the participants of the round table pointed out are the need for long-term shelters and jobs, as well as adequate access to social services, including the health care and education.

 At present, the basic needs of internally displaced people are covered by volunteers and civil society activists. Yet, charitable response capacity is limited and without a systemic national solution-oriented coordination mechanism, it is unlikely to be sustainable for a long period of time, especially if their numbers continue to grow.

Iryna Akimova, Director of the Analytical Center “New Social and Economic Policy”, has pointed to the need to establish a mechanism for the state to cover the costs of temporary accommodation for IDPs: “There is a need to develop financial mechanisms for the institutions that accommodate displaced persons and these settlements should be conducted on an ongoing basis,” she noted.

The experts have agreed that several things need to be done as a first priority to help resolve this issue. First of all, there is a need to develop the "social package of displaced persons" and identify sources and payment mechanisms (coming from the reserve fund budget, local budgets, international donors, etc.) It is also necessary to amend the State Budget for 2014, stipulating planning expenditure (transfers) on the basis of registered displaced persons. Experts believe that creating new jobs and providing incentives for entrepreneurs, as well as developing the state program that will ensure social rights of internally displaced persons, also need to be recognized as a priority in this area.