Which cities do the most for the integration of IDPs in Ukraine?

Mykola Mirnyj

Experts discussed some aspects of the integration of internally displaced people in Ukrainian cities.

WHAT FOR? 

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), around 50% of internally displaced people (IDPs) feel fully integrated in their host communities. Olexandra Slobodyan, an analyst from CEDOS, believes that the integration of IDPs remains an urgent issue. According to the think tank’s study, new arrivals would need about five to ten years to fully integrate in their new environment.

Researchers analyzed whether the situation of IDPs in time approximates the situation of the local population in terms of proficiency in language, wages, the likelihood of finding a job, reliance on social benefits, frequency of communication with neighbors, participation in elections, and availability of owned or rented housing. CEDOS assessed the ability of local authorities and social infrastructure to help IDPs adapt and integrate them into local communities. CEDOS analysts of investigated the accessibility of housing, jobs, education, healthcare, and culture.

The study of CEDOS coincides with the expected outcome of the implementation of the strategy for the integration of internally displaced people and the implementation of long-term decisions on internal displacement until 2020. The Ministry of the Temporary Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced People, which is responsible for IDPs since April 2016, fosters the integration and re-integration of IDPs according to the national human rights strategy.

Experts from CEDOS investigated 20 cities in 5 regions and classified them by distance from military operations. The main focus of the research was a number of cities that together received 75% of all IDPs. Also, these large cities were able to respond quickly to challenges related to migration, which simplifies the analysis of integration and adaptation of IDPs. The study focused on the cities of Vugledar, Novogrodivka, Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Izium, Pershotravensk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Poltava, Ochakiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Bucha, Irpin, Kiyv, Odessa, Uzhgorod, Lviv, Khmelnitsky and Ivano-Frankivsk.

WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?

Pilot research has shown that immigrants are increasingly integrated in their new place of residence. They are able to find jobs, rent homes, get access to education and healthcare, although to a lesser extent than locals. On the other hand, they usually do not participate in decision-making process in their new communities, thus, they cannot fully realize their fundamental rights. They have to overcome administrative hurdles. They are more likely to be left to their own devices or to the care of humanitarian organizations than the state.

"In Germany, for instance, vulnerable groups of the population become part of the decision making process, especially if there are no official structures responsible for migrants on the municipal level; the logic is that such decisions should take into account the interests of migrants," This is how Alexandra Slobodyan explains integration of migrants in Germany.

At the same time, CEDOS indicates that the ability of cities to integrate IDPs depends on the distance from the war zone. The cities that are closer to the war, pay more attention to IDPs. In addition, cities with a large population received the largest numbers. Experts explain this by the fact that cities such as Kiev, Lviv, and Uzhgorod simply have more resources that help integrate IDPs.

CEDOS’ study shows that IDPs and locals have different access to the housing market in Ukraine.

"Only 12% of IDPs said that they live in their own homes," – reports Alexandra Slobodyan.

In addition, city administrations do not plan migration. There is only a small number of cities that have integration plans.

"With this study we wanted to show, in particular, which aspects of integration are weak and what should be paid attention to. Migrants are integrated not at the regional level but at the municipal level. Ukraine has regional programs for integrating IDPs but they copy national ones. This bears witness to the government’s failure to take into account local issues that may influence the integration of IDPs," – says CEDOS expert Andriy Solodko.

The researchers also paid attention to hate speech towards IDPs. They noticed that IDPs from Eastern Ukraine are more discriminated against than those from Crimea.

"Most likely this is due to the general opinion that IDPs from the Crimea flee from persecution, while part of Ukrainian society views migrants from Eastern Ukraine with suspicion. They are often assumed to be collaborators with Russia and de facto authorities on the territory beyond Ukraine's control. This indicates that it is easier to integrate for Crimeans," – says Andriy Solodko.

Mykola Mirniy, a journalist at the Human Rights Information Center

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