A sociologist from Donbas reflects on problems that people who had to flee their homes due to the war face.
IDPs are accused of betraying their motherland, and in other regions of Ukraine they are called separatists who failed to stop the war.
Oksana Mykheeva, who had to move from Donetsk to Lviv after the beginning of the war explains why the majority of internally displaced persons will never return to the Donbas.
There is another surprising thing: the country wants to see poor and begging internally displaced people. As soon as a person’s material status starts to improve, he or she gets into the “rich” category and rich people do not need any help from the state. If you put more than thirteen thousand hryvnyas on your bank account, you stop getting welfare allowance from the state. This money will not last for long, and a person is a rational creature. If you lose the same money no matter whether you work or do not work — what will you choose?”
Probably, this is the general plan: not to facilitate the process of internally displaced persons' adaptation to new life so that they would return home. Part 1
“What strategy should the state have if to speak about definite actions? You have mentioned Georgia, though our problem is much bigger?”
“At the very beginning, when people who knew what they were able to do were leaving occupied territories there was an idea to found a city-colony. Everyone would be able to find some work in that city. Another problem is that this initiantive for entrepreneurship is very limited in our state. A lot of internally displaced persons could be entrepreneurs but it is very difficult to do this in our country. All Ukrainians, not only IDPs, need fevourable conditions for starting their own business.
The paradigm of aid is unpleasant for a person. There is a big group of internally displaced persons who need just favourable environment to be able to develop and realize themselves”.
“If to speak about problems, how have they changed in the last two years? ”
“This is very individual. As for accommodation, for example, the main problem is the fact that we do not have a transparent and functional real estate market for rent. It is a part of shadow economy thus, a person can be asked to leave the flat they rent any time. First of all, this market should be brought out into the open as now neither lendlords or landladies, nor tenants are protected which means that both sides lose.
Then, we should take the dynamics of a person’s attitude to what happened unto account. In many cases, first, the person is happy that he or she is safe and has managed to find work and accommodation. If half a year the routine starts and people begin to compare their life now and then.
At the same time, they realize that they have passed the point of no return. There are a lot of problems connected with these points of adaptation to the environment”.
“There is a clear tendency which you spoke about in your research published more than a year ago. You said that there was a striking difference between internaly displaced persons from the Donbas and the Crimea, to be presise, there was a difference in the way local residents treated them. Does this tendency still exist?”
“The way the problems of the Crimea and the Donbas were shown by mass media at the very beginning is importnat. People who come from the Crimea were victims of the Russian aggression and those who come from the east of Ukraine were shown as separatists, people who were guilty of the beginning of the war. This is why the society started perceiving IDPs from the Crimea as victims and IDPs from the Donbas as guilty ones.
The Crimean Tartars united extremely quickly. At the time when our research was conducted, they said that there was not any opportunity for them to return home, Now, all of them say that they will come back home by all means.
The situation with IDPs from the east of Ukraine is absolutely different. First of all, they are treated differently. Secondly, the status of the Crimea is obvious, but the Donbas status is vague. This is the reason why people are waiting for an opportunity to return home and if a person is going to leave this place to come back to their native city or town, he or she is not interested in integrating into the local environment.
Besides, we should not forget another thing. People who had to leave the Crimea were mostly pro-Ukrainian ones as this was why they were forced to leave. As for the Donbas, people did not only leave the place voluntarily, they had to evacuate their families due to the war. So, there were people with different views and ideology. This is the reason why internally displaced persons from the Donbas are not eager to communicate with each other as their views can differ greatly. In my opinion, this does not let IDPs from the east of Ukraine unite to solve their problems”.
“When I communicate with IDPs from the Crimea, all of them tell me that they are here for some time only and they will return home one day. IDPs from the Donbas, on the contrary, often say that they are not going to come back. What is the ground for such positions?”
“This can be accounted for by the fact that the Crimean Tartars are united and they have leaders who form and voice their opinions. There are no such leaders among the IDPs from the east of Ukraine, no one has managed to unite the whole group yet. Besides, going through an armed conflict is more traumatic for a person that just being ousted. If the status of the Donbas had been clearly defined, internally displaced persons would see their position in a more clear way.
The majority of internally displaced persons from the Donbas really say that they are not going to return. In my opinion, this is not due to their unwillingness, but due to the fact that they understand that it will not be possible in the near future. Even those who are going to return, realize that their life will not be easy there and they will find themselves in the society which will hardly share their values”.
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