Ways forward on practical solutions for internally displaced people, despite challenges with funding a national IDP Strategy
Little progress has been made at national level on the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) since last OCHA report on the latest IDP survey by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The issue of integration of IDPs remains one of the key challenges, along with their constrained access to employment, housing, healthcare and social benefits. Lack of resources, but also limited capacities, especially at local levels, continue to prove a challenge for the Government of Ukraine to implement an action plan, in support of a national Strategy on integration of IDPs.
In late June 2019, OCHA invited a global IDP expert, Professor Walter Kälin to Ukraine, to organize a series of workshops, together with the leading Government entity on the issue of IDPs – the Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs (MTOT). These workshops, organized for more than 50 representatives from local and national authorities of Dnipropetrovska, Kharkivska and Zaporizka oblasts, allowed participants increase their knowledge and capacities to support the IDPs with the challenges they face at local levels. Finding practical solutions to the acute challenges which IDPs face - housing, access to basic services, and pensions – were at the center of discussion.
This is already the second round of such workshops and demonstrates the readiness of the international community to continue working with the Government of Ukraine at all levels, to address the challenges which IDPs face. The first round of similar workshops took place in Kyiv, Kramatorsk (Donetska oblast, GCA) and Sievierodonetsk (Luhanska oblast, GCA) in late 2018.
While efforts continue to increase the capacities at regional and local levels on integration of IDPs, funding continues to be a key challenge. The most recent development is the Government’s setback from 50/50 to 70/30 housing programmes due to the lack of funds in the regional budget. That is, for an IDP family to receive state funding support for housing, they must to pay 70 per cent of the total rent. Before, this proportion was 50/50.
In terms of access to services, the situation is further exacerbated due to the issue with registration, the so-called “propyska,” that creates an obstacle for IDPs to accessing the basic services like healthcare, or pensions, in a place other than the one they are “registered” to reside officially. Despite the legal support provided, including thanks to humanitarian actors, little progress is anticipated until the right to services and social payments is delinked from the “IDP status”.
In terms of practical ways forward, the workshops participants agreed that restoration of IDPs’ right to vote in the local elections can potentially motivate the local governments to consider more closely the IDP-related problems and invest in appropriate solutions. Above all, the workshop participants agreed that IDPs are the citizens of Ukraine with the same rights, but also responsibilities, and that there are indeed ways at local, regional and national levels, to achieve durable solutions, both for families displaced, but also for host communities.