UNHCR says internal displacement affects some 10,000 people in Ukraine

News Stories, 20 May 2014

© UNHCR/N.Dovha
A woman, one of more than 50,000 internally displaced people in Ukraine, folds clothes at a sanatorium in Ukraine that has been welcoming people.

GENEVA, May 20 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Tuesday said the tension in Ukraine had displaced an estimated 10,000 civilians and added that the number of people affected was continuing to rise.

"A needs assessment has recently been completed and we are working closely with local authorities, other UN agencies and NGO partners to help those who are most affected. So far this includes providing legal assistance, integration grants for 150 families, cash assistance for 2,000 people, and improved shelters for 50 families," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

He said the displacement in Ukraine started before the March referendum in Crimea, and has been rising gradually since. Registration numbers are being compiled on the basis of data UNHCR is receiving from local authorities.

Among the affected population are people who have been displaced twice first from Crimea, and then again from the eastern part of the country. Most of those displaced are ethnic Crimean Tatars, although local authorities have also reported a recent increase in registrations of ethnic Ukrainians, Russians and mixed families.

At least a third of the displaced are children. Most IDP (internally displaced people) families are moving to central (45 per cent) and western Ukraine (26 per cent), though some are also located in the southern and eastern regions. The number of Ukrainian asylum-seekers in other countries has remained low.

"Among accounts we're hearing from displaced people is that they have left either because of direct threats or out of fear of insecurity or persecution. Some report having received personal threats over the phone, via social media, or finding threatening messages left on their property," Edwards said.

"People cite fear of persecution because of ethnicity or religious beliefs or, in the case of journalists, human rights activists and among intellectuals, due to their activities or professions. Others say they could no longer keep their businesses open," he added.

The main challenges facing displaced people are access to social services, long-term shelter, transferring residence registration so that they can access their economic and social rights access to documentation, and access to livelihoods. Help for IDPs is primarily being organized through regional governments, community-based organizations and through voluntary contributions by citizens.

People are being accommodated in shelters provided by local authorities, or staying in privately owned spaces, such us sanatoriums or hotels. Others are being hosted in private homes.

"However the capacity of host communities to support people is fast becoming exhausted," Edwards said, adding: "The pressing needs include for more permanent shelter, more employment opportunities, and support for community-based and local organizations in developing long-term solutions for people who have become internally displaced."

The spokesman said UNHCR welcomed a newly adopted law on the rights of displaced people from Crimea. The law includes safeguards relating to freedom of movement of Ukrainian citizens between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. It also allows for identity cards to be restored and covers voting rights. Further work will be needed to ensure that displaced people enjoy full equality and the same rights and freedoms under international and domestic law as other citizens of Ukraine.

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Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Displaced by Fresh Fighting in North Kivu

Waves of fighting in eastern Democratic of the Republic since late April have displaced tens of thousands of people. Many have become internally displaced within the province, while others have fled to south-west Uganda's Kisoro district or to Rwanda via the Goma-Gisenyi crossing.

The stop-start clashes between government forces and renegade soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda began in the province's Masisi and Walikale territories, but subsequently shifted to Rutshuru territory, which borders Uganda.

Between May 10-20, one of UNHCR's local NGO partners registered more than 40,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in Jomba and Bwesa sectors.

The IDPs are living in difficult conditions, staying in school buildings and churches or with host families. They lack food and shelter and have limited access to health facilities. Some of the displaced have reported cases of extortion, forced labour, beatings and recruitment of minors to fight.

UNHCR and other major aid organizations plan to distribute food, medicine and other aid. More than 300,000 people have been forcibly displaced in North and South Kivu since the start of the year, according to UN figures.

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Internally Displaced in Chad

In scenes of devastation similar to the carnage across the border in Darfur, some 20 villages in eastern Chad have been attacked, looted, burned and emptied by roving armed groups since 4 November. Hundreds of people have been killed, many more wounded and at least 15,000 displaced from their homes.

Some 7,000 people have gathered near Goz Beida town, seeking shelter under trees or wherever they can find it. As soon as security permits, UNHCR will distribute relief items. The UN refugee agency has already provided newly arrived IDPs at Habila camp with plastic sheeting, mats, blankets and medicine. The agency is scouting for a temporary site for the new arrivals and in the meantime will increase the number of water points in Habila camp.

The deteriorating security situation in the region and the effect it might have on UNHCR's operation to help the refugees and displaced people, is of extreme concern. There are 90,000 displaced people in Chad, as well as 218,000 refugees from Darfur in 12 camps in eastern Chad.

Posted on 30 November 2006

Internally Displaced in Chad

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