Displaced and disregarded


    The placard reads Housing; work

Ukraine’s legislators have failed to pass a bill regulating the situation for internally displaced persons [IDP] despite the large number of people forced to flee their homes in the Crimea or Donbas, and the urgent need for action with winter approaching.  Civic activists staged a picket outside parliament on Oct 14, but to no avail.  Not one MP even came out to speak to them.

Andriy Shchekun, co-head of the Coordination Council of IDP Civic Organizations, was scathing of the MPs who showed how removed they have become from basic human values. He told Radio Svoboda’s Crimean Service that it’s impossible to trust such MPs and stresses the need to draw the correct conclusions during the coming parliamentary elections.  He says that parliamentarians’ indifference and inaction are motivating displaced people to unite and fight for their rights.

Well over half a year has passed since people first began leaving their homes, and with winter near, parliament is still dragging its heels. A draft law has now been produced but the government is still in no hurry to pass it and speaker Oleksandr Turchynov ignored an open appeal from human rights organizations to personally ensure that the draft bill was put to the vote on Oct 14.

On June 19 parliament finally adopted a law, but not the one that had been discussed with civic groups.  The text of that bill was only tabled on the day of voting and basically addressed none of the very real problems which confront people forced to leave their homes.

On July 20 President Petro Poroshenko announced that he was vetoing the law, saying that it did not establish procedure for state assistance to displaced persons and failed to ensure coordinated and responsible work from state authorities, bodies of local self-government and their cooperation with the community in this area.  The law was criticised as largely declarative. 

This was a promising move, as was the tabling in parliament on Aug 28 of a draft Law on Ensuring  the Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons,  No. 4490a-1.  This was drawn up in cooperation with groups actively helping IDP.

Almost two months on, parliament has still done nothing and the country will be going to the elections, and quite conceivably hitting cold weather, without a law in place.  

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