Soon after de facto annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation in February-March 2018, the Donbas was plunged into a brutal – albeit undeclared or ‘hybrid’ – war that pitted Russia and its proxy military forces against Ukraine. In total, between 14 April 2014 and 15 November 2017, the UN recorded 35,081 war-related casualties, including 10,303 people killed and 24,778 injured. Today, there are 1 491 528 internally displaced people or 1 217 071 families, most of them from war-torn territories (Ministry for Social Policy 23 March 2018). Over 80% of the IDPs have found temporary residence in just ve Ukrainian regions: the government-controlled districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (42% and 13% respectively), the neighbouring Kharkiv and Zaporizhia oblasts (10.9% and 7.4% respectively), and Kyiv (8%). Of the remaining Donbas inhabitants, two to three million currently reside in non-government controlled areas, with another 600,000 being caught in the so-called ‘grey zone’, living within 5km either side of the 457km frontline.
The humanitarian crisis has prompted a widespread response from civil society: IDPs and social activists have organised numerous NGOs across the whole country, providing social support, legal advice and ongoing help to IDPs. The international community’s role is also crucial, as they continue to provide support for IDPs. However, there is a lack of adequate funding; in 2017, over 80% of requests for funds for humanitarian needs in Ukraine were unmet (van Metre, Steiner, Haring 2017). Since the Ministry for Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs was established in 2016, its role in facilitating regional and central government support has become increasingly important.
This policy brief focuses on the most urgent issues raised by internally displaced people during meetings and interviews: housing, property, healthcare, registration and pensions. The analysis begins by looking at the role of the international community and, the economic impacts of the conflict before accessing issues around housing, health care, pensions and property rights. On the basis of our research, we provide recommendations for international organisations, civil society and the authorities to prevent the marginalisation and social exclusion of internally displaced people.