Roundtable on IDP Issues in Siverodonetsk
March 2 – Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy (POID) organized a roundtable at Crisis Media Center in Siverodonetsk (Luhansk Oblast) called “How IDPs are integrating in the Luhansk Oblast.” The event was for journalists, public officials, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and civil society organizations.
Statistics show Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts bear the highest displacement burden from the east. Neither the authorities nor local communities are ready for such challenges. Roundtable participants discussed how new community members feel in Luhansk Oblast – whether there is a dialogue among the local population, authorities, and media, how actively IDPs participate in the life of their host communities, and other related issues.
“Our organization was registered in 2016, and we chose the title ‘active community’ because we already associate ourselves with the community in which we live,” said Oksana Ochkurova, head of the NGO Center for Joint Development Active Community. “We provide not only social and legal assistance to IDPs but are also engaged in community initiatives and interactions of IDPs with the host communities. Our activities are aimed at regional development. Our interaction with the authorities is ambiguous. For the last three years, we have seen that district authorities keep ignoring many of the problems in the fourth year of the war.”
Yuliana Gasanbekova, who is from Lysychansk and is an advisor to the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Social Policy of Ukraine in the Luhansk region, informed the participants that 270,000 IDPs were registered in the region, which is the second largest number of registered IDPs in Ukraine. “Social protection has always been about protecting. But now the social protection authorities only control IDPs. Their desire to shift everything onto the shoulders of the territorial communities is evident,” Gasanbekova said.
Among the other event speakers were Vira Popsuy, Siverodonetsk city council; Tetyana Petrenko, Luhansk state housing department for youth; Albina Kosheleva, Luhansk state administration; and Tetyana Verbetska, of “Telenedelya” (Teleweek). The roundtable was held with support from the Strengthening Communication with Conflict-Affected Communities (SCCC) project, funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by Internews.
More on POID’s website in Ukrainian.