Employment and housing are main problems of IDPs – organizers of 3rd Nationwide IDP Forum

Kyiv, February 17, 2016. Employment as well as housing and land issues are most daunting problems of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine, said Anatoliy Zasoba, Head of Board at “Crimean Diaspora” NGO speaking at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center on the results of the 3rd Nationwide IDP Forum that took place on February 15-16, 2016. He said it was important to start a broad dialogue, include the IDPs into discussinng most topical issues. Zasoba noted that parliamentary hearings on IDP-related issues are taking place on February 17. “Our task was to provide an opportunity to IDPs to name what issues are most topical for them today […]. IDPs themselves defined the two key problems that were in focus of the two-day nationwide forum. They are housing and employment,” emphasized head of the board at “Crimean Diaspora” NGO.

Svitlana Samarchenko, part of the forum’s organizing committee and member of employment section noted that IDPs are often not hired because of their legal status, it is a problem for many. “We would like to see the issues covered at the parliamentary hearings and that the decisions made are beneficial for IDPs. So that we do not feel ourselves as internally displaced persons,” she said. Among other problems that Samarchenko voiced – lack of awareness by IDPs on training opportunities for entrepreneurs as well as on business incubators that would foster exchange of experience with successful IDP entrepreneurs. They also say that a web site that would gather all issues pertinent to employment of IDPs would be useful, premises where IDPs could meet up would be beneficial, a database of IDPs who are looking for a job as well as introduction of tax holiday and social benefits for youngsters and women with children would help. “We would like to see laws adopted that would allow controlling the way the employer abides to the laws on IDPs. We would also like that functions of the state employment center are transferred at least temporarily to volunteer and civil society organizations,” said Samarchenko.

Oleksandr Starikov, part of the organizing committee and member of the “land and housing” section said that IDPs are concerned with the issues of permanent housing, ways to pay for it, implement their rights to land ownership and with fate of their property on the temporarily occupied areas. “Not all IDPs are striving to go to the center, to Kyiv […]. They are not attracted by a metropolis after everything they went through. Their attitude has changed. Construction of town-houses was considered. Majority of them are used to living in apartments, that’s why we were considering construction of apartment houses as well,” said Starikov. He emphasized that after the forum IDPs suggested to set up two stirring committees. One is to oversee distribution of land. “Stirring committee is a must, online map of the state cadaster is not suitable. A system similar to ProZorro that deals with procurement needs to be introduced,” he noted. IDPs suggest creating another stirring committee to oversee budget and grant money that is being disbursed for the needs of internally displaced. “No one knows better than an IDP what directions are the priority, the most important and the most painful for the displaced persons,” suggested Starikov.

Representatives of the organizing committee of the 3rd Nationwide IDP Forum noted that all conclusions will be included into a resolution. Oksana Vikaruk, co-organizer of the forum said that over 500 persons took part in the forum over two days. They represent 127 organizations from 20 regions of Ukraine.