Over 7,000 conflict-affected people turn to UNDP-supported citizen's advisory bureaus

Apr 12, 2017

Photo credit: Anastasia Vlasova

Iryna Komyakova, 41, stands outside the Department of Labour and Social Protection in Kramatorsk, where she has just finished submitting paperwork so her 17-year old son Andriy can receive a scholarship as an IDP. She spent about two hours waiting in line on that day - not long compared to her previous visits. Remaining in the office are about 20 other people, who are either standing in lines, filling in applications, or arguing with officials.

“Most of these people are IDPs. We have 60,000 IDPs registered in Kramatorsk. I’m an IDP myself. I came here from Horlivka in December 2014. I worked there as an engineer at a boiler house.

We came here at random just because I had gone to college in Kramatorsk, so I know this city a bit.

“Here I had to train for another job. Until December, I worked at a UNDP-supported citizen’s advisory bureau. We were advising local people on how to do paperwork and which state agencies they should address to receive help.

“I often had to apply to the social security department to extend my right to IDP benefits. Then I advised others about how to do this. A lot of IDPs who come here often don’t know which government institutions they need to apply to. That’s why we opened a consulting bureau for them.

“It became a bit easier to apply for aid in summer, when the social security department introduced tickets with a specific time indicated on them to manage the lines. Before that, it was just a disaster. People were crowding and trying to elbow into the line.”

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has directly and adversely affected over 3.8 million people, 70 percent of whom are women, the elderly, or children. Many of those have fled the conflict zone, and are now internally displaced in Ukraine, including in the government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which host the highest numbers of IDPs and are facing the biggest challenges to meet their needs. Public institutions, services, labour markets, and communities have struggled to cope with this massive movement of people amid already weak infrastructure and a major economic downturn.

In March 2016, UNDP set up four сitizens advisory bureaus (CAB) to support the government in providing administrative, psychological and legal aid to the vulnerable population in the atermath of the conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (Novopskov and Rubizhne in Luhansk region, and Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in Donetsk region). A total of 7,804 appeals for aid (69 percent IDPs, 55 percent women) were addressed within ten months. The initiative is funded by Sweden and Switzerland.

On April 5, 2017 UNDP signed an extension agreement with four CSOs that will continue providing support to the conflict-affected population of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts until December 2017. A new mobile model will be introduced so that CABs can extend their reach outside their office locations. Now they will cover 28 cities, towns and villages with a combined population of 690,070 people.

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