On 11 March, the Protection Cluster released the first estimation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine since the military offensive started on 24th February. Estimates were based on a provisional methodology developed in consultation with OCHA, IOM, UNHCR and REACH. In the absence of credible sources of IDP data at that moment, and while the Government’s centralized registration system was not being applied, the Cluster stepped in to ensure that the preliminary estimated scale of internal displacement in Ukraine was brought to the attention of the international community.
In the meantime, the Protection Cluster continued to work closely with IOM, REACH, UNHCR and OCHA to review available sources of data and discuss collectively new methodological approaches. As mentioned in the previous note, the initial methodology for estimation of IDPs contained limitations. Credible data sources from the Eastern and Northern regions, for instance, where active hostilities continued to forcibly displace thousands of people within the same regions, were not available to the Cluster in the previous week.
Between 9 March and 16 March, IOM conducted a representative survey of the general population in Ukraine to gather initial insights into internal displacement and mobility flows, while the Displacement Tracking Matrix is being set up and yet to be completed given the complexities of the current operational context. The results of the survey were presented to the Protection Cluster, UNHCR, REACH and OCHA, and after a collective review of the methodology and findings, the group agreed that the figures provided by IOM are a good representation of the scale of internal displacement in Ukraine – calculated to stand at 6.48 million internally displaced persons in Ukraine as of March 16th.
One of the main reasons for a significant increase from the previous estimation is the fact that IOM’s survey had access to survey respondents from geographical areas (Eastern and Northern regions close to areas under active hostilities) which turned out to host large numbers of IDPs displaced within cities or the same Oblasts. In the previous week, few reliable data sources from the latter regions were available for the Cluster, so the previous methodology considered mostly data sources reported in the Western and Central areas of the country. IOM’s assessment therefore provides a more comprehensive overview of the displacement situation.
Under the auspices of the Cluster, IOM, REACH, UNHCR and OCHA agreed to continue working together and jointly reviewing IDP figures as new data sources become available, to ensure the humanitarian community receives credible and harmonized population figures for IDPs in Ukraine.
Finally, it is important to note that IDP figures are only one side of the humanitarian impact of the military offensive against Ukraine. Over 12 million people are estimated to be stranded in affected areas or unable to leave due to heightened security risks, destruction of bridges and roads, as well as lack of resources or information on where to find safety and accommodation. Humanitarian corridors with satisfactory security guarantees for the safe evacuation of civilians have still not been secured by both parties, and continue to be the most pressing and urgent need inside Ukraine.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.