Ukraine - With winter swiftly approaching, IOM will extend its support to 4,000 more displaced people among the most vulnerable in Ukraine.
The activities are currently funded by Switzerland, the US and Norway and discussions with other partners – EU, Germany, Sweden – are underway.
By the end of September, there were already 300,000 displaced people from Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, according to the Ukrainian State Emergency Service. IOM is targeting the most vulnerable among them in 13 regions of Ukraine hosting over 65 per cent of the displaced population.
So far, IOM has helped as many as 2,000 displaced – the majority being women and children (80 per cent) – with the distribution of relief such as hygiene items, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, school supplies and uniforms in six regions of Ukraine (Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi and Ivano-Frankivsk). Furthermore, IOM has been providing them medicine and psycho-social support through local NGOs meeting regularly with internally displaced persons (IDPs) to learn what is needed and provides assistance.
“Sometimes just talking to somebody who listens and cares makes a big difference for IDPs,” said Manfred Profazi, IOM Chief of Mission in Ukraine. “These people have gone through traumatic experiences. Hurried relocation, new environment and uncertain future also cause anxiety and distress among many displaced persons.”
Given the high risk of IDPs falling in the hands of traffickers, IOM’s also has awareness information campaigns about the risks of modern-day slavery. “In times of crisis, vulnerable people are more eager to accept risky job offers, and as a result may suffer from labour, sexual and other forms of exploitation,” says Profazi. “Fraudulent offers to assist in the receipt of refugee status are already advertised in the regions were IDPs have been relocated.”
IOM long-term counter-trafficking partners, local NGOs assisting displaced people, are providing counselling and advice on the risks and the rules of safe travel. IOM has also put up a migrant advice hotline and produced a special leaflet on counter-trafficking for distribution to the IDPs.
IOM expects be able to support more displaced people in seven more regions of Ukraine (Donetsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Ternopil, Lviv and Kyiv) at a very crucial moment, as winter is approaching with temperature sometimes falling below -20 C.
Approximately 20 per cent of IDPs are believed to be staying in collective centres, which in many cases are old Soviet summer camps, sanatoria and dormitories with cracked wooden windows, leaking roofs and no heating, definitely not fit for the cold weather.
IOM will reach 4,000 more IDPs across the 13 regions of Ukraine with the funds recently made available and will deliver blankets, warm clothing, and heating equipment to help people get through the winter. IOM will also conduct assessments among the displaced population to identify other needs.
“There is a need for long-term solutions,” said Profazi. “The numbers of displaced persons have been growing according to official data, which proves that the majority of people are not willing or just cannot return home. Their possible integration remains vague. The volunteers’ and local communities’ capacity to help has been stretched. The issue of employment is far from being solved for IDPs, as the economic crisis in Ukraine creates many challenges both for the local population and for displaced persons.”
Nevertheless, IOM stands ready to support the Government, local communities and displaced persons should they require assistance and to continue to reach out to the donor community to provide long-term solutions and integration options for IDPs in Ukraine.
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