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ACT Alliance Alert, IDP situation in Ukraine requires urgent response

Source: ACT Alliance - Switzerland - Tue, 1 Jul 2014 14:43 GMT
Author: Elisabeth Gouel
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IDP situation in Ukraine requires urgent response

1.    Brief description of the emergency and impact
As a result of the Crimean crisis and the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine thousands of people left their homes in Ukraine. According to latest reports (UNHCR, 27 June 2014) forced displacement is rising in Ukraine with an estimated 54,400 people internally displaced. Over the past week, the number of internally displaced increased by more than 16,400. The rise in numbers of the past week coincides with a recent deterioration of the situation in Eastern Ukraine. Worsening law and order, fear of abductions, human rights violations and the disruption of state services have been reported. Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) received controversial information about the number of IDPs from different regions. In Sviatohirsk city for example the official number of IDPs are 2,800, but according to information received from local organizations the unofficial number of IDPs are 12,800.

2.    Why is an ACT response needed?
Most IDPs from the Eastern region have reported leaving with limited belongings, and are in need of shelter, food and nonfood items such as clothing. In the Eastern region primary health care services have been jeopardized, with shortages reported in emergency medical services, essential medications and medical supplies. Water and energy supplies are heavily distorted in Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and neighboring areas. Funds to support IDPs are limited thus the assistance is mainly performed by local NGOs in cooperation with churches and local entrepreneurs. Reserves of these NGOs are, however, running out. Housing is also problematic, in many cases IDPs are accommodated in emergency shelters, even large families are placed in one room in sanatoriums or in youth hostels. Payment of rents and overhead costs is unsolved, similarly to employment. According to NGOs involved in assistance to displaced persons, a humanitarian crisis might emerge with the onset of autumn colds if no steps are taken.

3.    National and international response
In the beginning of June a Coordination Center was established by the state of Ukraine at the military base of the National Disaster Management Authority; it is intended to coordinate reception and accommodation of IDPs.  Several ministries and NGOs take part in the Center’s work. At the government meeting on 11 June 2014, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the IDP problem has become permanent and ordered the creation of an electronic database to register them. On June 19, the Ukrainian government adopted a new law concerning the legal status of IDPs. However, the level of assistance has not yet been determined by the government and effective implementation of the law has not started, either. IDPs are provided with temporary shelter and assistance from local authorities, NGOs and with donations of private citizens. UNHCR has begun to distribute humanitarian assistance to displaced people in the East, and has delivered assistance in support of efforts by the local authorities to the town of Sviatohorsk, where the largest concentration of internally displaced people is found. UNHCR is also launching a self-reliance program for vulnerable internally displaced people in western and central Ukraine.

4.    ACT Alliance response
Responding to the emergency situation in Ukraine, Hungarian Interchurch Aid -HIA (working in Ukraine since 1998) was among the first agencies that provided medical and psychosocial assistance to the affected population and later provided food and NFI assistance to IDPs in Ivano Frankivsk and Lviv with the support of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In Ivano Frankivsk the IDP coordination center has been established on the basis of an earlier HIA capacity building process for Western Ukrainian stakeholders. The coordination mechanism includes the establishment of a coordination committee with state and non-state actors, regular meetings, establishment of IDP reception centers, registration of and contracting with the arriving IDPs.
Experiences of former support to IDPs confirmed that further assistance for IDPs is an urgent need. ACT member Hungarian Interchurch Aid is planning to carry out relief activities in Western and Eastern Ukraine to support IDPs.

5.    Planned activities
Hungarian Interchurch Aid plans to issue an appeal supporting the basic needs of IDPs staying in Western and Eastern Ukraine (Ivano Frankivsk, Lviv, Odessa, Herson, Sviatohorsk, Transcarpathia.) The planned activities should be coordinated and discussed with their colleagues and partners on the field. Generally HIA plans to support IDPs, especially families with one or more children (food, hygienic kits, kitchen equipment, household textile, diapers, baby formula, and baby care items) in the form of direct distribution in different locations.

6.    Constraints
Instable security situation, cooperation difficulties with state authorities, late response from state organs, obstructed movement of humanitarian shipments within the country.

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Contact information
Klára Keveházi, kevehazi@hia.hu, +3612084932
Gábor Bálint, balint.gabor@hia.hu, +3612084932

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance (jbi@actalliance.org)

For further information please contact:
ACT Regional Programme Officer, Alexandra Segura (phone +41 22 791 6334 or mobile phone +41 79 376 5060)
Or
ACT Director, Pauliina Parhiala (phone + 41 22 7916069 or mobile phone + 41 79 963 5333)

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