Half of internally displaced persons still do not know how to get state benefits they are entitled to – research results


Research conducted by an international NGO explores the role of media in reaching to the internally displaced, their relations with host communities and human rights situation.

Kyiv, October 25, 2016. KIIS, an international NGO that empowers local media, conducted a research, they interviewed 1,5 thousand residents of host communities and one thousand internally displaced persons (IDPs). The research was designed to discover what type of information they are lacking, what the best way to present it is, how to supply quality information and journalistic content. It also looked at how media can influence the social feeling of IDPs as well as their relations with host communities. This research data was presented by Valentyna Kuzyk, Internews humanitarian programs manager. “Many daunting issues of the IDPs can be addressed through the media. They are able to disprove stereotypes and overcome discrimination, provide information that is lacking etc.,” she said.

Internally displaced are critically lacking information

According to Maryna Shpiker, head of research at the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, unawareness of internally displaced on basic problems remains a serious problem. “Only half of them know where they can get financial assistance. Only 28 per cent are aware of where they can get legal aid,” she explained. Internally displaced persons are mostly lacking practical information on what the state is doing or has to be doing for them, how the legislation is changing etc. Success stories of other IDPs are of least interest to them. Among the things that they dislike in the way media work is the small number of useful information, unbalanced and stereotype-based coverage of IDP problematics.

Relations between IDPs and host communities

In general 61 per cent of IDPs said they are not experiencing biased attitude from the host community. Over half of them have personal relations with locals and feel they may turn for help. At the same time one fourth of them do not have such relations. “They are worse integrated and cannot rely on their new communities,” noted Shpiker.

Local residents of the host communities generally declare either good or neutral attitude, only five per cent have negative attitude. “Good attitude is more frequent in eastern Ukraine. Most restrained one is in Kyiv,” Shkiper said. According to her, positive outcomes of IDPs’ presence that host community residents mention the most is increase in number of high-quality specialists and of work force in general, overall increase of dynamics etc. At the same time negative attitude is also mostly tied to the queues appearing due to excessive number of people, competition for working places as well as deterioration of crime situation.

Violation of IDP rights

Each third internally displaced stated that his/her rights had been violated. Most wide spread areas include getting social benefits, renting accommodation, employment and voting at elections. According to Olena Vynogradova, legal analyst at all-Ukrainian charity foundation “Right to Defense”, amendments to the legislation have not been introduced to include IDPs as well as host community members into the list of free secondary legal aid recipients. Free legal aid is now possible to get only through charity organizations.

IDPs are most concerned with violations of their social rights, including them in the registry, protection of their property rights. “The problem is suspended payment of social benefits as well as suggested discriminative mechanisms to restart them. Back in June the government started checking the places of their actual residence, its results are mandatory to get pensions and social benefits. The checks are still on. They are scheduled until January 2017,” explained Vynohradova.

Another problem is getting targeted assistance to pay accommodation or utility bills. “These benefits are cancelled for IDPs that have property registered in the government-controlled area. It often cannot be used, for example, it is a ruined house in the countryside or a six-meter part of inherited property. They cannot live there based on objective reasons. They have to rent accommodation, but they do not get assistance,” the legal analyst noted. Moreover following the verification of the social benefits internally displaced with such “accommodation” will have to return dozens of thousands of hryvnia of the aid they have received.