“UNHCR’s protection cash assistance helped my granddaughter access education with dignity!”

Since 2014, UNHCR has offered individual cash solutions for the protection needs of internally displaced and other conflict affected persons in Ukraine.

Valentyna, 68, and her granddaughter Angelina, 9, are originally from a small town located in eastern Ukraine near the ‘contact line’. However, they lived in fear as they heard bombs and shooting almost every night. As the sun would set, they would hide in a safe place, wondering whether their house would be hit next by shelling. Unfortunately, this is the fate of many villagers living near the ‘contact line’ in east Ukraine, where homes of innocent civilians are damaged or destroyed daily by shelling as the conflict rages on. That is why both Valentyna and her granddaughter decided to leave their home town in 2015, moving further away from the ‘contact line’ in search of safety and peace.

Since their arrival in their new home, they managed to make a living thanks to gardening and selling vegetables. However, their monthly earnings are barely enough to make ends meet and to afford the high rent of the house they now moved into, which stands in very poor condition. That is how Valentyna was identified by UNHCR’s NGO partner, Proliska, and referred to receive individual protection assistance, in the form of cash.

As part of its wider protection response, UNHCR provides individual protection assistance in cash or in kind to the most vulnerable among the displaced and other conflict affected persons in east Ukraine. The “Individual Protection Assistance” (IPA) programme, as it is known, provides a one-time cash or in kind assistance to persons with specific protection needs to prevent their exposure to further risks. Potential beneficiaries are identified either by UNHCR or NGO partners as they visit conflict affected villages along the ‘contact line’ as part of their regular protection monitoring missions to the field.

“I could not send my granddaughter to school as I could not afford winter clothes and school materials for her. We could hardly afford the most basic things with the little money we had, – says Valentyna. – Thanks to the protection cash assistance I received from UNHCR I could buy winter clothes and stationary for Angelina. Now she is able to attend school and continue her education.”

Since 2014, the UNHCR’s Individual Protection Assistance program (IPA) has provided support to over 4,400 internally displaced and conflict-affected people, such as Valentyna.

UNHCR’s individual protection assistance has also been supporting durable solutions for formerly displaced persons who have decided to return to their homes, such as Tatiana, 55, who had fled her home near the ‘contact line’ in 2015. In 2017, seeing that she could not afford the rent of the house in the location where she fled to, she decided to return to her home village. However, upon her return she found her house vandalized and looted. Most of her valuable possessions had been taken away. To add to her challenges, Tatiana encountered great bureaucratic difficulties in accessing her pension. Thanks to the support of UNHCR’s NGO partner Proliska, Tatiana received food stamps as well as legal support to reinstate her pension payments. Tatiana was also identified to receive protection cash support seeing that she had nowhere to store food as well as her rapidly declining health.

“Thanks to the protection cash support I received from UNHCR, I was able to travel to the nearby urban center to access healthcare as well as purchase a new refrigerator to store my food”, Says Tatiana.

Other forms of individual protection assistance provided by UNHCR and its NGO partners include in kind purchases, such as: special equipment for people experiencing a disability, cushions for wheelchairs, blood-glucose monitoring equipment, furniture, winter clothes, stationary for students, and radiators, among others. The items are selected by the beneficiary.

In 2018 alone, nearly 2,700 people received individual protection assistance. A majority of which reside near ‘contact line’ and are affected daily by the conflict.

According to Umar Yakhyaev, Senior Protection Officer based in east Ukraine, “the conflict that has forced millions of people to flee their homes. Many of those displaced and conflict affected face the difficult choice to either buy food or medicines, pay for warm clothes or for utilities, afford increasing rental payment or send their children to school. Thanks to UNHCR’s individual protection assistance, vulnerable individuals can find a solution to their most acute needs. This greatly empowers them and their sense of self-dignity.”

In order to apply for the individual protection assistance, please call hotline number: 0-800-307-711.

For more information on UNHCR Ukraine’s Individual Protection Assistance, please read our IPA Thematic Update.

This article was edited thanks to the support of an online volunteer UNV Emily Theodore. Find volunteering opportunities at https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en