Homelessness and the IDP crisis in Ukraine

The situation with homelessness in Ukraine is deteriorating. With the looming humanitarian situation, caused by an ongoing conflict in the country’s East, more than two million Ukrainians have become displaced over a two-year period. They have fled their homes and jobs – with more than 1.4 million are displaced just within Ukraine. Another 1.1 million fled the country. The displaced, however, are among 5 million people who are affected by the conflict. This conflict left them homeless, dependent on the government support system and charity-based organizations for basic needs. These people are unable exercise their rights. Many were subjected to heavy rocket fire and artillery shelling, leaving them to suffer wounds and psychological distress. They cannot return – since the infrastructure in the Donbass region is badly damaged – nor move forward, since the situation in the East is worsening due to poverty and lack of resources.

Displaced people are one of the most vulnerable groups and their needs are serious. The economic situation in Ukraine is troubling. Pensions are scarce and are not sufficient to cover many expenses. Many forced migrants are unemployed and have no savings. Their families are forced to survive on aid, distributed by charity-based organizations, since there are major shortages of food and hygiene products. Additionally, lack of access to adequate housing further puts the IDPs at risk of becoming homeless.

With winter approaching, those sleeping on the streets are struggling to survive. Many require medical attention to be treated for frostbite and hyperthermia. Once treated, however, homeless patients are discharged. The government resources are being severely stretched and unable to help the number of those in need.

There are some 100 social agencies providing services for homeless people; 30 of these services are non-government funded.

The question, however, is whether it’s possible or not to accommodate so many new inhabitants? NGOs and charitable organizations are known to have launched different projects like street work, day centres, training and community workshops. Workers at such centres provide people with hot food, tea, clothing and information about places where they can receive additional help.

Despite the current efforts, there are many among the 1.4 million IDPs still in need of assistance, roaming the streets of Ukraine’s cities in search of shelter and food.

Also, there is no reliable data on homelessness (including hidden homelessness) in Ukraine – but it is evident that the numbers are staggering based on the growing demand for services, especially in the biggest cities.

It is important to remind the public about the seriousness of Ukraine’s current homelessness problem – which contributes to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and challenges faced by the IDPs. Experts also advise that by spreading awareness on the crisis, we can take the opportunity to break the boundaries that exist between homeless and IDPs in general – as it will help with the response to this situation.

To meet the increasing needs in the upcoming winter and to address the problem of a worsening conflict, we are asking you to share this article and spread awareness on the issue.

If you want to know more about the various challenges faced by the IDPs, continue to follow our page and attend our upcoming conference devoted to finding long-term solutions to the current humanitarian crisis.

Photo credit: Laurent Lavì Lazzeresky

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