IOM Ukraine Showcases Its Support for People with Disabilities

Internally Displaced Persons

Kyiv – IOM Ukraine has been supporting the Weekend of Unlimited Opportunities, an initiative of the United Nations and local activists, which draws attention to the rights of over 2.6 million people with disabilities residing in the country. About 240,000 of the most vulnerable among them face daily challenges in basic tasks like getting out of their flats, accessing public transport, visiting a shop, a bank branch or even a social institution which does not have a ramp.

From 30 November until yesterday (03/12), dozens of cinemas, museums, bookshops and restaurants in Ukraine either provided free access to the visitors – including people with disabilities and families with children – or offered master-classes and excursions for people with hearing or sight issues.

While UN Migration currently provides winterization assistance to the most vulnerable people with disabilities residing in the conflict-affected east of the country, IOM Ukraine has focused on the issue of inclusion for quite some time.

“As of today, almost 800 people with disabilities among internally displaced or members of IDP host communities received IOM grants for micro-entrepreneurship, self-employment and vocational training,” said IOM Ukraine’s Chief of Mission, Dr. Thomas Lothar Weiss. “IOM also promotes inclusion within its social cohesion projects: 26 libraries, culture centres and other social institutions we have renovated in the communities hosting IDPs are usable by people with disabilities. Since 2015, over 5,500 persons with disabilities joined social cohesion events organized in IDP host communities with our support,” added Dr. Weiss.

The latest IOM survey about internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine – which will be published later this month – examined, as well, issues faced by people with disabilities (about eight per cent of those surveyed). Another nine per cent reported having a chronic disease which affects the quality of their life. Over half of the surveyed displaced persons of working age with disabilities stated they cannot find jobs.

In many cases, self-employment becomes the only option. Dmytro Berezhnyi worked at a mine in Luhansk Region for most of his life. In 2011, he suffered an occupational injury and due to the resulting disability was not allowed to return to work there. He learned how to build stoves, and this skill proved to be very useful when the conflict in eastern Ukraine started in 2014.

He and his family relocated to Mykolaiv Region in the south of Ukraine where he continued working as a stove-maker and joined a local NGO, volunteering as a consultant for IDPs and veterans with disabilities. Last year Dmytro took part in IOM’s economic empowerment programme and received equipment which allowed him to start a new business constructing ramps for people with disabilities. “As I was supported by IOM, now I want to help my new community become a progressive and friendly space for all,” he said.

For more information please contact Varvara Zhluktenko at IOM Ukraine, Tel: +38067 447 97 92, Email:

  • IOM supports disability-inclusive development of Ukrainian communities. Pictured: participants of a conference organized in June 2018. Photo: IOM 

  • IOM supports disability-inclusive development of Ukrainian communities. Pictured: participants of a conference organized in June 2018. Photo: IOM