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Ukraine: urgent action needed to protect internally displaced persons

Letter to the Prime Minister
headline Strasbourg 17/07/2014
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“I am deeply concerned about the situation of internally displaced people in Ukraine. Many of the IDPs, who include women, children, and persons with disabilities, are traumatised by the hostilities and need special care. The government must urgently develop a coordinated response at the central level, first of all, by establishing a centralised registration system and designating a state entity tasked with coordination of the humanitarian response,” said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, publishing a letter sent to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mr Arseniy Yatsenyuk on 27 June 2014.

The Commissioner observed alarming rates of internal displacement, which have been growing daily, during his visit to Ukraine from 16 to 19 June 2014. He met with a number of persons displaced from Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and raised their problems with the central authorities in Kyiv and regional and local officials in Odesa. The Commissioner noted that the response to the humanitarian needs, including housing and food, had been made possible by a generous solidarity of numerous individuals and non-governmental organisations, but lacked effective policy at the central level.

“Such voluntary assistance can only be a short-term solution and is not sustainable. There is an acute need to develop a governmental strategy to provide durable solutions with regard to accommodation and opportunities for livelihood for those displaced persons who may not be in a position to return to their original place of residence in the months to come,” said the Commissioner. Addressing gaps in the legislative norms regulating the situation of IDPs and ensuring their protection in line with European and international standards must be an essential part of this strategy.

The Commissioner recently discussed the above-mentioned issues with Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman, who indicated that the government is determined to address the concerns raised in the Commissioner’s letter. On his part, the Commissioner intends to continue to raise awareness among various international organisations and donors to provide Ukraine with assistance to address the needs of IDPs.