Kyiv, February 17, 2016. First ever parliamentary hearings seek to resolve the problems of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and citizens of Ukraine that live on temporarily occupied areas or on territories not in control by the Ukrainian government. The hearings are to become the first opportunity to conduct an open and comprehensive dialogue between the representatives of civil society and the MPs. “Parliamentary hearings are needed to explain to the MPs all aspects of the problem that our citizens are facing as well as to draw attention of government and of the international community,” emphasized Natalia Veselova, MP, secretary of the Parliamentary Committee on social policy, employment and pensions speaking at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Recommendations drafted by civil society in cooperation with the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee will be presented at the hearings. The hearings will focus on problems of IDPs and of the persons, who live on temporarily occupied territories and uncontrolled territories, said Viktoria Savchuk, advocacy expert at Crimea SOS. “It is a consolidated document with recommendations […] that reflects the changes that our legislation needs,” noted Natalia Novykova, representative of the Resource Center for assistance to IDPs.
First “bloc” of recommendations from civil society refers to the housing problem. “Both provision of new housing facilities and renewal of the facilities damaged as a result of combat actions in the east are in focus. Secondly it is about state support to employment of IDPs that includes both provision of working places based on professional qualifications of IDPs as well as programs that foster self-employment and develop small and middle-scale entrepreneurship,” said Olena Vynogradova, legal analyst at the national charity fund “Pravo na zahyst” (eng. – Right to Defense). She noted that the recommendations also touch upon financing of the internal state program for integration and reintegration of IDPs, financing of the national human rights strategy with focus on IDPs and residents of the temporarily occupied territories. Consolidated state information strategy envisaging rights of these social strata needs to be worked out. Tetyana Durneva, expert on IDP related issues at the Institute for Social and Economic Studies said the ideas on recommendations were accepted from all willing citizens of Ukraine, they include ideas ranging from “utopian and idealistic to practical and realistic ones.” “These are clear-cut steps that could have been made a year ago already. People see how the problem can be resolved, but political will is needed,” she noted. “I think if all these recommendations are implemented it will decrease social tensions among the people affected by the conflict,” noted Vynogradova.
Experts name the following current main problems of IDPs: housing and renewal of accommodation damaged by combat actions; procedure of crossing of the contact line, insufficient support to vulnerable strata of society as well as discrepancies among various legal acts that hamper IDPs in getting due social benefits. Veselova also reminded that there are about 10 legal acts registered in the Parliament pertaining to IDPs and to those affected by combat actions. However they are either not being submitted for voting or do not get enough support. Another equally serious problem, she said, is that the state has not worked out a clear strategy as to the IDP policy and policy for residents of the temporary occupied territories until now – two years after the conflict started. Cabinet of Ministers has approved a comprehensive state program for integration, reintegration and adaptation of IDPs for 2016-2017 however money for its implementation has not been provided. “One of the key problems why this work is not being conducted is that no responsible central state agency has been designated. It can be either the vice prime minister or a ministry empowered to deal with these issues,” Veselova said.