In the seventh year of the war in Ukraine, about one and a half million internally displaced persons (IDPs) left the occupied territories. Last year only, 1,376,517 people were officially registered as IDPs. There is currently no downward trend in the number of IDPs. The reason is that yesterday’s supporters of fake ‘republics’, had being despaired of their prospects and assessed the realities of life with exorbitant prices, food shortages, unemployment, etc, started to leave unsafe areas in search of a better life.
All these years, Ukraine has made various legislative decisions to protect IDPs. However, the state policy on internal migrants’ protection cannot be called a systematic and effective one. In that sense, the IDPs integration in Ukraine faces a number of problems that are currently not fully resolved. Viktor Filatov, an analyst from ‘Sich’ Human Rights Group, explains why this happened.
First, today there is no unity on the state policy for migrants’ protection. Each new government makes its own adjustments, but many norms of the IDPs’ integration strategy remain declarative ones and are far from reality. In addition, the current strategy expires in 2020, so it’s time to adopt a new document.
Second, the necessary bylaws have not been yet adopted under the existing strategy. For example, the Strategy of Integration of Internally Displaced Persons states the problem with the realization of the right to education.
Despite this, Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine does not have a relevant bylaw, i.e. a specific action plan. The situation is the same with pension arrears. The procedure required by the Cabinet of Ministers was not adopted, and more than 200,000 pensioners have not received legally guaranteed payments.
Third, there is no legislative framework to settle housing issues of IDPs. And this is one of the most painful problems. There is no comprehensive concept today, and many IDPs cannot benefit from government programmes.
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Compensation models for destroyed or damaged housing are extremely imperfect, as they do not apply to IDPs whose property remains in uncontrolled areas. Also they don’t provide even minimum guarantees of the property right restoration, considering the amount of compensation is limited to UAH 300,000.
The process of compensations payment faces lots of obstacles, as there is no single register of destroyed property, and the courts to which refugees apply for justice say in response that there is no compensation framework.
Compensation for destroyed housing: promises and reality
Fourth, government driven funding is insufficient in most cases, and it is often reduced even for the few existing programmes. So, under such conditions the problem only deepens.
Financing of housing programmes was removed from the State Budget
Fifth, lawmakers do not bother to study or analyze whether IDP protection legislation is effective and whether the lives of internal migrants would have been improved by the government driven programmes. For example, the Strategy of Integration of Internally Displaced Persons until 2020 contains a list of expected results, but there are no criteria for their measurement and analysis.
The government does not see the end result of its internal migration policy, and the only solution the state can offer is to respond to certain social challenges. In other words, the government puts out fire, again and again. Moreover, any positive experience of foreign countries that faced problems of mass resettlement is not taken into account, because according to international experience the key result of effective legislation is to return people to the temporarily occupied territories and prevent future conflicts. So these are the basic principles of transitional justice.
Coming to the conclusion, today there is no strategic goal, and therefore the legislation focuses exclusively on certain issues that are not the cause of resettlement, but only its consequences.
Will social housing be more accessible to migrants?
‘The data we receive in our regular surveys, as well as the results of our work, show how it is important to provide urgent and ongoing funding for humanitarian and rehabilitation projects aimed at reducing suffering and providing long-term solutions for the people in need in Ukraine,’ sais head of the International Organization for Migration in Ukraine Anh Nguyen.
We hope with the adoption of a new strategy for the internally displaced persons’ protection the authorities would take into account their previous miscalculations and the government policy on IDPs issues would become more effective.