The armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and temporary occupation of some of its territories have resulted in destruction of a large number of residential property of the citizens of Ukraine and violation of other fundamental human rights, such as life and health, honour and decency, inviolability and safety etc.
Owing to the ongoing armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the internal displacement of the considerable share of internally displaced persons has lasted for years and already become protracted. However, most of the actions taken by the government are response measures, which is to some extent inconsistent with the current situation. At the same time, the priority in the policy for defending the rights of the internally displaced persons in the nearest future must be mid-term solutions aimed at provision of housing, employment, social protection of internally displaced persons, access to education, health care and documents, which identify and prove citizenship of Ukraine participation in decision-making at the local level and use of local democracy tools, introduction of which will considerably facilitate integration of the internally displaced persons in the receiving territorial communities.
This Strategy is aimed at improvement of the national policy for defending the rights of the internally displaced persons and at the government taking all the adequate and accessible actions to resolve the issues associated with the negative consequences of internal displacement as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
The Strategy is an element of the mid-term governmental policy aimed at creating the conditions where the internally displaced persons will need no special aid and protection in connection with their displacement and will be fully able to exercise their constitutional rights without any discrimination based on the internal displacement.
The Strategy takes into consideration the laws (Law of Ukraine “On Defending the Rights and Freedoms of the Internally Displaced Persons”; Law of Ukraine “On the Fundamentals of the Domestic and Foreign Policy”; Order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated 24 March 2021 No. 276 “On Approving the Governmental Priority Action Plan for 2021” (Official Gazette of Ukraine, 2021, № 31, p. 1801) and the international law, first and foremost, the international standards on internal displacement, in particular, the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, applicable recommendations and resolutions of the Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe regarding rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons as well as fundamental documents on human rights, in particular, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Decree of the Praesidium of the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR dated 19 October 1973 No. 2148-VIII, and so on. The Strategy is based on the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons established by the Resolution of the UN General Assembly.
The Strategy is also directed at achieving the sustainable development goal prescribed by Decree of the President of Ukraine dated 30.09.2019 No. 722/2019 “On the Sustainable Development Goals of Ukraine until 2030”: promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Main Issues of the Integration of Internally Displaced Persons and Implementation of Long-Term Solutions for Internal Displacement
As of 30 June 2021, according to the Unified Information Database of Internally Displaced Persons (hereinafter the “Unified Database”), 1,461,992 internally displaced persons from the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and City of Sevastopol had been registered. However, the data in the Unified Database are inconsistent with the information on actual number of people who have been displaced and actually reside in the territories controlled by Ukraine. The main reason for such inconsistency is that the persons who are registered in the temporarily occupied territories have access to most social allowances, administrative services or other legal rights only after they are registered as internally displaced persons. Thus, the persons who reside in the temporarily occupied territories or had left those territories before the start of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine have to obtain certificates of registration as internally displaced persons regardless of actual internal displacement as prescribed by the laws of Ukraine, clauses and standards of the international law. On the other hand, some of the internally displaced persons who do not have a pressing need for social aid, but need other forms of support are not registered as internally displaced persons as they are not aware of their rights. However, information on the actual number of the internally displaced persons is the precondition for implementation of the Strategy.
According to the first report of the National System for Monitoring the Situation of the Internally Displaced Persons (March 2016), the main part of the internally displaced persons surveyed did not own residential property (76%) and lived in the rented accommodation or at their relatives’, receiving families’ home. As for their financial standing, more than 90 percent of the internally displaced persons noted that their aggregate income only covered food, necessary clothes, footwear and vital needs. Only 30.6 percent of the internally displaced persons worked full or part time.
In comparison with the first period when the monitoring was effected, the number of the internally displaced persons renting accommodation is 60 percent % while the employment level among the internally displaced persons is 46 percent (June 2020). The main conditions for successful integration mentioned by the internally displaced persons were housing (89 percent), regular income (80 percent) and employment (48 percent).
However, the internally displaced persons have become more vulnerable due to the considerable spread of the acute respiratory disease COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Social protection of the internally displaced persons, including payment of pensions, depends on the certificate of registration as an internally displaced person, even if payments are not associated with internal displacement.
At present, there are still some key issues regarding integration of the internally displaced persons and introduction of mid-term solutions for internal displacement, including in the absence of the unified system for state evaluation of their integration level, which requires the integral system approach to implementation of the national policy in this area based on the coordinated actions of all the responsible governmental authorities.