Kyiv, September 25, 2014. The Ukrainian government must do more to take responsibility for the welfare of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ukraine. The government must create more effective systems to meet the needs and human rights of people displaced from Crimea and combat zones of eastern Ukraine. This was said at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv by Dr. Chaloka Beyani, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.
For the purpose of his investigation, Beyani met with government officials and visited Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk regions. “The Ukrainian government must take primary responsibility” for the well-being of IDPs, he said. The financial resources of many displaced people are quickly becoming exhausted, and the upcoming winter poses real threats to the safety and human rights of these people. The Ukrainian authorities must ensure that IDPs have access to employment opportunities, shelter, and expected benefits such as pensions. Particularly vulnerable groups—the elderly, disabled, pregnant women, and the young—require special attention and care. IDPs must be able to participate in Ukrainian political life, including the upcoming parliamentary elections.
“While official figures put the number of IDPs at over 300,000, unofficial estimates suggest that the number of those displaced within Ukraine could be three times higher,” Beyani stated. The figure of 300,000 fails to account for those IDPs who are not officially registered, many of whom are hosted by family members, local families, or communities. “Civil society, churches, and volunteers and making heroic efforts across the country,” he stated. Despite these grassroots efforts, discrimination against IDPs continues to be a problem in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government must improve coordination between state bodies, and build effective programs to improve and ensure assistance to those in need. The Ukrainian parliament must ensure the passage of a law on IDPs to ensure that these needs are met. Ukraine must move towards a program that returns electricity, services, and housing to the conflict zone. IDPs must be able to return to their homes, or there must be a plan in place to guarantee their permanent relocation to other regions. “Ukraine must learn from the lessons of similar situations in the region,” stated Beyani. The past experiences of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and other places can help Ukrainian authorities create effective policies.