On 18 June 2014 UNHCR has signed the agreement with Lviv Regional State Administration, which envisions provision of financial assistance to the most vulnerable internally displaced persons, accommodated in the Lviv region.
Ukraine is facing the problem of internally displaced persons (IDPs) for the first time since its independence. As for June 16, UNHCR estimates there are some 34,000 IDPs in Ukraine. Majority of them is women, children and elderly persons. UNHCR has conducted assessment of the needs of internally displaced persons in 16 regions, which demonstrates a growing demand for support.
Many IDPs received assistance from civil society organizations, which have been quite generous in bringing food, clothing, and other items to IDPs, and even offering them short-term housing. However, this outpouring of generosity is not sustainable and cannot provide durable solutions. Though, IDPs leave their homes with some amounts of money, their reserves exhaust after few months of displacement. Some persons still have no access to their savings on bank accounts; often they cannot sell real or personal property they left behind because of risks in traveling home or legal obstacles.
Local authorities in many regions, particularly in Lviv oblast, have already implemented efficient mechanisms to support the most vulnerable IDPs. For example, with the help of local authorities and civil society IDPs have started accessing social benefits (pensions, child benefits, disability benefits). Some regions are trying to attract financial resources for further help to IDPs; such assistance is very limited due to budgetary constraints and differs from region to region. While commenting on the situation in the region, Lviv Governor, Iryna Seh, said: ?We are doing our best to meet all daily social needs of these people. All of them are temporarily accommodated in sanatoriums, pansions and private houses. Following requests of their parents, some 210 children were enrolled in schools, 21 children can now attend preschool institutions, 346 out of 380 students continue their higher education in Lviv universities?.
As highlighted by UNHCR Regional Representative for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine Oldrich Andrysek, ?the cash assistance program is introduced specifically in Lviv region due to the high level of awareness of local authorities of the problems of IDPs and readiness to respond to their needs?. The project of financial assistance for IDPs is planned to be implemented in other regions of Ukraine in the future.
The UNHCR supports countries in performing their duty of protecting internally displaced persons. That is why the UNHCR and Lviv Oblast State Administration unite their efforts in assisting the most vulnerable IDPs (low-income, families with many children, families that include persons with special needs, single parents; families that have no permanent income and reside in province towns and rural areas; families that include one or more persons going through a serious illness; students who do not get stipends). 650 most vulnerable IDPs will get a one-time payment from the UNHCR in Lviv oblast within the project?s framework.
At the same time Oldrich Andrysek stressed that Western Ukraine, specifically Lviv region is very welcoming and tolerant towards all nations and nationalities: ?Not only Ukrainians are accepted here, but also Crimean Tatars, Russians, Jews. People provide internally displaced persons with food supplies and offer their own houses for free. If the money donated by people and NGOs was calculated, I think the expenses would be much more significant. Therefore I thank to all involved, particularly to the Head of Oblast State Administration Iryna Seh who was providing all possible assistance from the first days, therefore the work in the oblast is very well-organized?, - stated Mr. Andrysek.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the UN refugee agency, was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. Today the UNHCR is one of the main humanitarian agencies in the world. Around 8,600 staff members of the organization work in more than 125 countries and help 34 million people. This number includes not only refugees, but also asylum-seekers, refugees who return to their home voluntary, internally displaced persons and stateless persons.
More information on statistics of internal displacement, peculiarities of the law and international standards on protecting internally displaced persons can be found at www.unhcr.org.ua/idps