Many officials acknowledge the issues with integrating the internally displaced Ukrainians and supporting them, as well as poor track of citizens who relocated to the government-controlled territories.
Internally displaced persons or IDPs do not have their representatives in the authorities. There is no system policy to defend their interests. This was stated by member of the parliament (MP) from Petro Poroshenko Bloc Mustafa Nayem at a briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “384,000 people came to the so-called” referendum “in the occupied territories. There are 1.7 million internally displaced Ukrainians. Anyhow, they communicate with those who remained on the other side of the contact line. This is a huge potential of people who can promote the idea of Ukrainian statehood. If these people do not get proper attitude and financing, they will communicate this signal,” stressed the MP.
Along with IDPs, Mustafa Nayem considers children to be agents of influence. He emphasized the importance of educational programs and camps that would unite children of IDPs with their peers from other regions of Ukraine. “When they see people who are polite to them and help them, when they communicate with children from Western Ukraine and understand what is happening there, and those children, in turn, realize that the country is at war – this is real integration,” believes Nayem.
There are no IDPs in the state statistics of the country
Due to the large number of displaced persons, their host communities’ budgets have a bigger profitable part and exceeded local budgets. “But IDPs are not taken into account. The Ministry of Finance takes money in the form of reverse transfers from the areas with the biggest number of IDPs to the state budget. This means that the tax, paid by people with a job, gives both a plus and a huge minus,” explained Maksym Yefimov, MP of Ukraine. Another problem, in his opinion, is medical subsidy. “IDPs are not included in the regional quantitative indices and medical subvention for these people is not calculated. The Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories should pay attention to it and encharge the State Statistics Committee with a task to consider IDPs while developing data for all state agencies. They do not currently exist in the state statistics of the country,” noted Maksym Yefimov.
Social benefits to IDPs
Grygoriy Nemyrya, MP from “Batkivschyna” faction, emphasized that in 2017, the government will allocate for the targeted payments UAH 100 million less than in 2016. “Ukraine has neither state policy, nor strategy for IDP. Opinions of the Ministry of Social Policy and the Ministry of temporarily occupied territories differ: the former consider IDPs as a burden and part of the problem, the latter think that they are part of the problem solution. The governmental decisions support discriminatory policy,” noted the MP. Sergiy Taruta, MP from the 58th majoritarian district (Mariupol), believes that the Parliament has no platform that would institutionally study the problem of Donbas. “But we are strong when we are together. So, we have to accumulate our energy to help IDPs and newly established ministry,” he noted.
Vitaliy Muschynin, Deputy Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, explained that, indeed, the budget – 2017 provides for only one type of assistance to IDPs in the amount of 3 billion 300 thousand UAH. “Only one in ten families appeals for help. Are there so many displaced persons? Do they need this assistance?” asked the deputy minister. He also informed that the automated register of IDPs has been launched, which should become a powerful analytical system.
Georgiy Tuka, Deputy Minister on temporarily occupied territories and IDPs of Ukraine, noted that it is important to have information not only about the number of IDPs, but also about the distribution by gender, age, profession, residence and their vision of the future. However, the problem is on the verge of escalating into chronic. “If the situation does not change within the upcoming two-three years, the vast majority of IDPs will assimilate to their new small motherland and will not return to Donbas. According to recent polls, about 80 percent of the respondents give negative answers to the question whether they want to return,” informed Mr. Tuka.
New threat to IDPs
Tetyana Durneva, executive director of Public holding “Group of Influence”, consultant on IDPs issues, Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), informed that IDPs faced another problem after the public tender for telephone verification of IDPs was won by the debt recovery company. The Ministry of Finance informs the private company about personal data of IDPs: passport, identification code, place of residence, marital status, etc. Besides, the winners of the tender can also involve a third party. “It is impossible to control where personal data of citizens of Ukraine are. People have fled from the war, and now somebody can break into their houses and live there without them knowing. Not to mention the fact that such verification is meaningless because it is impossible to ascertain information by telephones,” Tetyana Durneva explained.