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A year without home. The problems IDPs from the Crimea and Donbas face. Part 2

A year without home. The problems IDPs from the Crimea and Donbas face. Part 2

Thousands of people had to leave their homes and move to peaceful regions of Ukraine after the Crimea had been occupied and the war in the Donbas had broken out.

According to the UN information, last April there were more than 1.2 million IDPs in Ukraine. The majority of them (about 800 thousand) decided not to go far away from home and moved to that part of the Donbas which is not occupied, to the Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya regions.

These pople often call themselves refugees as they had to seek refuge from hostilities. Every person had their motive and their story.

Ukraine has never faced such a problem so the way it had to work with IDPs has been an all-time experiment and an efficient mechanism which would help solve their problems has not been created yet. A lot of work is done by volunteers and, of course, there are still a lot of problems to be solved.

Oksana Mikheeva and Victoria Sereda studied IPDs' stories and conducted a research for Ukrainian Peacekeeping School.

“The Ukrainska Pravda” tried to outline the main tendencies which kade Ukrinians seek a new home.

Please follow the link to read the 1st  part of the story

Beginning life anew

The state provides IDPs with financial aid, for example, families get 2.4 thousand UAH a month. This is a small some but it urged many people to register as IDPs. At the beginning people were wary of this idea as they did not know for sure where the information collected in the lists of IDPs would be used. However, problems with getting medical aid, sending a child to school and then the perspective of getting monetary aid made pople change their opinion.

"If you want to conult a doctor for free or get humanitarian aid at a distribution centre you need registration”, says Tetyana Tymoshenko, “Volunteer Hundred” director. She occupies with medical aid, prosthetics and rehabilitation issues.

Even if IPDs have money it can be very difficult for them to find accomodation.

Both a real estate agent and a landlord/landlady will ask for financial guarantees and will insist on proving that the potential tenant is “decent”. This means gathering a lot of information and documents.
"When we wanted to rent a flat we had to face the fact that IDPs were not the best potential tenants.
We were  told: “You will not pay” or “You will destory my flat as you have two children”. This is not only the landlords’ and landladies’ position, estate agents are hostile as well”, say Tetyana Minyailo.

Now Tatyana, her husband and their two children live in a studio which was found for them by Mariupol volunteers.

Lviv residents are, by the way, as reluctant to let their flats to IDPs as, for example, Mariupol ones.
Stanislav Fedorchuk shared the same experience:"When we first arrived in Lviv we stayed at “Kateryna” hotel and I immediately started looking for a flat to rent but no one wanted IDPs to rent their flats. It took us 3.5 months to find something. Estate agents either asked for huge sums of money or told us hat nobody was going to let IDPs in."

This IDPs' treatment can be accounted for not only by the fact that there are a lot of stereotypes connected with them, but also by the fact that landlords and ladies are afraid not to get their money.
"We often deal with with the situation when in the flat advertisement it is said that the owners do not want to rent their property to IPDs. Such statemets are not usually justified, they are done under the influence of propaganda which is aimed at dehumanization of the enemy, including the Donbas residents", says Oleksandra Dvoretska.

Besides difficulties with money and accomodation, IPDs note the problem of new surrounding. They confirm that they have heard about conflicts and unpleasant situations while communicating with the locals, though the majority have not witnessed such cases personally.

The IDPs are silent as they are afraid to show that they are different. They understand that people who live in the localities thay have moved to may have opposite opinions.

Work for “Donetsk residents”

"You are a temporary person, you will leave in a couple of months and that is why I don't see any sense in hiring you", – this is exactly what one of internally displaced persons heard in Brovary (the Kyiv region).

“Donetsk” origin can hamper not only accomodation but also employment prospects.

IDPs are often treated as “temporary workers”who can decide to return home as soon as the war in the east is over.

Oksana Sukhorukova, volunteer of “Svoy” (“Familiar people”) charity fund says: "In fact, a lot of people are ready to go back any minute, they do not know how long they are going to stay here. They can go home any moment. However, there are a lot of vacancies for non-qualified labour”.

Kateryna Yurkova is an exception, however: “I am a freelancer so it 'doesnt matter for me where to work and it took my brother only a week to find a job. He was an estate agent at home and here he works at a call centre. The majority of his new colleagues are IDPs from the Donbas.”

She moved from Kramatorsk to Kharkiv with her son and brother at the beginning of June 2014, as soon as hoslities started in the town.

Some employers use the situation IDPs are in and offer them to work inofficially and thus, for less money. “I agreed to teach workers at different enterprises. I work and get money for two months and go to the next enterprise. I come there and they tell me: “Are you from Donetsk? Your salary is 5 thousand UAH but as you re from Donetsk we'll pay you 250.” There are no other variants so I have to agree”, tell us an IDP who worked as a system analyst and head of a department for 10 years. 

Solomia Vysotska told us about difficulties which IPDs face in Lviv as well: “After moving to Lviv I feel that the city is much smaller and poorer than Donetsk, private tutors are less demanded and their payment is much worse.”

Speciality of workers themselves, as many of them used to work in minig or metallurgical industries in the Donbas, makes finding a job more difficult. Some people say that there salary is barely enough to pay the rent.

Families'situation is easier: they can pay the rent with one salary and buy food with the other. Singly IDPs sometimes form groups to solve their problems together.

"IPDs are mostly offered hard and badly-paid jobs. Miners, who used to get 7-8 thousand UAHs are offered 1200-1400 UAH in Kharkiv. This money is not enough even to pay the rent for a room in a hall of residence", says Yevhen Kaplin.

Oksana Rubay, director of Lviv City Centre of Social Services for Families, Children and Youth, syas that there are a lot of initiatives to help IDPs: "There is a job fair which was created by an NGO. For each IDP we are trying to find a work according to the person’s profession and we write letters of reference. We do not treat all the people in the same way, we are trying to find approach to everyone.

In Lviv, there is no need to create a separate department which would deal with IDPs only. If a definite family needs help, we find those who can do it."

Still, according to Oksana Rubay's words, it is necessary to create a transit centre which would host up to 50 people till they can find accomodation.

...When asked “How are you?” the majority of IDPs usually answer: “I'm fine, thank you”, however, a lot of them still have nervous breakdowns when they remeber shellings and militants who seized their cities and towns.

They do not have unonimous vision of the events in the East and sometimes there is an ideological split inside a family, though the majotiry calls themselves Ukrainians.

Despite the fact that it has been nearly a year since the Crimean “referendum” took place and hoslitities in the east of Ukraine began, a lot of IDPs still do not know how to live.

They do not reject the idea of returning home but the majority right now have no place to return to.

Oleksiy Kovalenko for UT.

New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of five articles which were written about the situation in the Donbas by Donbas journalists and translated into English. Honest vision of people who work in the field is unbiased and fresh which is crucial in the world which is full of desinformation and propaganda. We try to share this vision in out daily mailout.  You can subscribe here.

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