Displaced People in Ukraine Put Down Roots, Integrate in Local Communities, Says IOM Survey


Kyiv – Natalia is not from Mariupol and would not be living in this industrial city in southern Ukraine were it not for the conflict that displaced her and her family from their home village of Shyrokyne in February 2015.  

But she treats the city as if it were her own, organizing fellow-displaced people as well as locals to clean up a messy public space next to a food kiosk she has opened with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 

“People stopped dumping here when they saw what we had done. My neighbours and clients support my initiatives and business development, and it helps me move further. I see that the positive emotions I give to the local community come back to me,” she says.  

Even though Shyrokyne is only a short drive from Mariupol, the road to stability has been long and hard.  

“We were hiding in our basement, when our house was destroyed by shelling. We had only two and a half minutes to escape while they were reloading. Thank God our car was not damaged. We drove, and shells were falling behind us,” recalls Natalia.  

After several months of further hardship, including an attempt to find a job abroad which ended with exploitation, Natalia managed to overcome depression and now runs two snack kiosks. She feels part of the local community and plays her part to integrate and give back. 

A new survey under IOM’s EU-funded National Monitoring System, shows that despite economic challenges, internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine tend to stay in their current places of residence and build relationships with host communities, just like Natalia has done. The survey results were jointly presented in Kyiv yesterday (13/12) by IOM, the Ministry of Temporary Occupied Territories and the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.  

In several rounds of the survey, up to 80 per cent of displaced people affirmed that they have fully or partially integrated into local communities. Over a half (54 per cent) of the IDPs surveyed by IOM in the latest round stated that they trust local people in their current place of residence.  

Close to two-thirds (62 per cent) of the IDPs interviewed by IOM reported that they have been staying in their current place of residence for over three years. More than one-third (38 per cent) would not return to their places of origin even if the conflict ends. In some regions, such as Kyiv, Chernihiv, Volyn and Chernivtsi, this figure is 60 per cent or higher. The share of displaced persons who stated their intention to return home after the conflict ends decreased from 32 per cent in September 2017 to 24 per cent in September 2018.  

“While UN Migration continues regularly updating and analysing comprehensive data from the National Monitoring System Report, we also provide direct assistance to displaced and conflict-affected people in Ukraine,” said IOM Ukraine’s Chief of Mission, Dr. Thomas Lothar Weiss. “Since 2014, with the support of our donors, we were able to assist close to 300,000 people through our humanitarian, economic empowerment and social cohesion programmes, and we are committed to continuing our work as the needs of conflict-affected people in Ukraine remain high,” he added.  

IOM has been conducting surveys on the situation of IDPs in Ukraine on a regular basis since March 2016. In the latest, 11th round, conducted in September 2018, a total of 2,405 respondents were interviewed face-to-face, and 4,025 by telephone. 

Report available here http://www.iom.org.ua/sites/default/files/nms_round_11_eng_press.pdf 

For more information please contact Varvara Zhluktenko at IOM Ukraine, Tel: +38 067 447 97 92, Email: vzhluktenko@iom.int  

  • Natalia, a Ukrainian displaced woman, at her food kiosk established with a grant from IOM. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed