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Ukrainian govt not providing assistance to displaced persons - Human Rights Watch

July 22, 2014, 6:05 UTC+3 BERLIN

The organization sent a letter to the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko

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BERLIN, July 22, /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian authorities have not provided protection and assistance to tens of thousands of Ukrainians who were forced to flee the homes in zones of conflict, Human Rights Watch says in a letter to Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko.

“We fully recognize that the government has had to cope with multiple, profound crises in a short period of time [...] but as the number of people forced from their homes continues to grow, so also does the urgency of finding sustainable solutions for them,” the letter says.

It indicates that in early July a researcher working for the group visited eight temporary living facilities for displaced persons in Kiev, Vinnitsa, Lvov, and Kharkov regions, where it interviewed displaced people.

The researcher also met with “staff of numerous civil society groups and intergovernmental organizations, volunteers that provide assistance to displaced people, and representatives of local authorities tasked with providing assistance to displaced people.”

“All displaced people said they received little to no help from the government when they were fleeing from armed conflict areas or when they have sought to secure housing, food, clothing, and other essential items, as well as access to social services,” the letter says. “Most also said that they did not receive any information about agencies or governmental bodies they could turn to for help.”

“People who fled fighting in the east but remained in the region reported problems accessing medical help due to shortages in emergency medical services, medication, and supplies there,” Human Rights Watch says.

“Although since March the government did issue decrees designed to put in place mechanisms to respond to the needs of displaced persons, our research suggests that these have not yet led to operational changes on the ground,” the letter goes on.

“Our research also suggests that regional authorities tasked with providing assistance to displaced people do little more than shift the burden to volunteer groups and civil society organizations,” it says.

“Volunteer groups that have been providing assistance are struggling to cope.”

In this connection, Human Rights Watch recommends to establish “a functioning centralized registration system for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and ensure that the central state body established to coordinate efforts to provide housing and social assistance to IDPs in different regions is functional”.

The letter also contains a recommendation the parliament “to adopt legislation that protects IDPs from discrimination based on their status and provides simplified procedures for obtaining new residency registration that is a prerequisite to receiving urgently needed social payments, such as pensions, and disability, child, and unemployment benefits”.

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