19.06.2014 | Yevhen Zakharov

Help for Forcibly Displaced People


As a result of the occupation of the Crimea, from March to May more than 10 thousand Crimeans came to mainland Ukraine, and the number of such forcibly displaced persons is increasing. Last week (from 8-15 June) tens of thousands of people from Donbas came to Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson ad other regional centres of the East of the country, after fleeing their homes in zones of military action in fear of their lives.

This category of people is referred to in international law as ‘internally displaced persons’ [IDP’. The problems with providing IDP with accommodation; social, medical and other assistances are being resolved at the present time by civic organizations and informal groups of members of the public, as well as by city and local self-government authorities.  There are varying levels of coordination for this assistance, however experience so far makes it possible to formulate IDP main needs.  These are in the first instance accommodation; food; clothing; medicine and medical care; help finding work. All of this work is being carried out on a voluntary basis. Sometimes there is a need for direct financial assistance however since it is not always possible to establish the real need for this, volunteers try to avoid such situations and offer help in material, not pecuniary form. The following are some of the groups of volunteers and information about the results of their work.

The first systematic help to IDP began in Lviv where more than three thousand Crimeans, mainly Crimean Tatars, were received.  This was carried out by the artistic association ‘Dzyga’.

In Kyiv a number of groups and organizations active during EuroMaidan united as a “Volunteer Sotnya’* to help IDP [Vostok [East] SOS; No 17 Hospital; the Maidan Rehabilitation Centre; Ruslana and the Ruslana Lyzhychko Fund; the Coordination Centre for Displaced Persons; the Escadron of Good; etc).  Here the work was coordinated of all groups of volunteers involved in organized evacuation of people from Donbas (from 10 to 800 IDP in each case).  They were then provided accommodation together in hostels; former pioneer camps; pensionnats, etc.  A coordinator for each such place is appointed with the person responsible for resolving all problems arising. A storage facility has been opened for receiving humanitarian aid (clothes; medicine; everyday technology, food that can be kept for a long time; organized medical and psychological assistance; entertainment for children.  

Just over the last week around 300 thousand UAH has been collected.  The group has a closed facebook page, and a help line  – 091 352 94 52.

In Kharkiv there is a an informal association of volunteer groups which coordinates all activities with the regional state administration. This includes the Telesense Centre; a computer technology college; several programmer teams; the Kharkiv Human Rights Group and other groups. A site has been opened, for communication and for resolving the problems of IDP – provision of accommodation; food; clothing; helping to find work; medical and legal aid; etc. A particular feature of Kharkiv is that 20 thousand school leavers from Donbas schools are coming here to take the external exams – ZNO – due in a week. People are put up mainly outside Kharkiv itself in former pioneer camps, pensionnats etc.

In Dnipropetrovsk IDP assistance is coordinated by the National Defence Headquarters created by the local EuroMaidan. The headquarters is in constant contact with the regional state administration. Here there are almost no places where people can be place in groups and volunteers work directly with each family of IDP who approaches them for help. The help line number is  067 698 65 64.

There are analogous associations in other cities (Odessa; Kherson; Kirovorhad and others) with their work on the whole like that described above.

The components of help to IDP everywhere are active participation by volunteers; registration of new arrivals; the creation of a storage point where local residents bring humanitarian aid (food which can be kept out of a fridge; clothes; general needs such as toothbrushes; soap, items of personal hygiene etc.; medicine; everyday technology; etc.); collecting money and calculating expenditure; public accountability for spending.

There is an urgent need for a law on IDP to be passed since it is hardly possible to resolve the problems of IDP which will only increase through volunteer efforts alone. Even if the anti-terrorist operation is successfully ending, and the IDP from Donbas can return home before the cold weather begins, the flow of people from the Crimea will only increase. A draft law, drawn up by KHP, and discussed by the public twice – in the office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, and in the UNHCR Kyiv office, was used by MPs Serhiy Sobolyev; Valery Patskan and Volodymyr Aryev and tabled in parliament on June 17.

*  [hundred – units who took part in Maidan; hence the term “Nebesna Sotnya’ or Heavenly Hundred for the well over 100 people who were killed, most gunned down on Feb 20 by police snipers – translator]. 

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