IOM, UNHCR and NGO Forum jointly assess needs in the Donbas

27 November 2017

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) – the UN Migration Agency, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and NGO Forum arranged a joint visit to the government controlled area of the Donetsk Region. The Ambassadors of Norway and Denmark, Deputy Heads of Mission of the Embassies of Sweden and Lithuania, as well as representatives of the Embassy of Poland joined to assess the needs of conflict-affected people, and monitor the impact of humanitarian and recovery interventions of the respective members of the Humanitarian Country Team.

H.E. Mr. Ole T. Horpestad, Ambassador of Norway to Ukraine, talking to an elderly lady at a medical tent at Mayorsk checkpoint 

The delegation visited Kramatorsk, Sloviansk, Sviatohirsk, Mayorsk, Bakhmut, Toretsk and Druzhkivka to meet with local activists and NGOs, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and residents of the ‘grey zone’ between the two sides. The latter group crossed the contact line to share their stories, the pain and fear but also their hopes and experiences of resilience, with the diplomats and representatives of the international organizations. Among the IDPs and locals who met the delegation were beneficiaries of IOM’s livelihood and cash assistance projects, funded by the European Union, the British Embassy in Kyiv, and the U.S. Department of State Bureau on Population, Refugees, and Migration. The diplomats also met with the members of initiative groups participating in IOM’s social cohesion project, at libraries which have been renovated or are currently in the process of refurbishment with funding from the Government of Japan.   

Delegation visits the washing and cleaning powder factory of IOM grantee Dmytro

IOM grantee Evhen shows pottery he produces to H.E. Mr. Ruben Madsen, Ambassador of Denmark to Ukraine

Despite the proximity to the conflict zone and the enormous challenges they are facing, people continue to think about the future. IOM grantee, Dmytro, an IDP who produces washing and cleaning powder, dreams about the equipment that would allow him to sell his products not in small carton boxes, but in 3-5 kg packages. A local resident of Sloviansk and the owner of an IOM-supported pottery factory, Evhen, wants to enter the EU market and says he needs help with establishing business contacts. Lyudmyla, a beneficiary of the IOM cash assistance project, is a returnee to Toretsk, a town which is now almost cut off from the main road system. Lyudmyla and her husband have five children, their youngest is 1.5 years old, and her main concern is to be able to cover medicine, clothing, and educational expenses for the children. The future for this woman is to see her children grow up healthy and receiving a proper education, hopefully in an environment that is not affected by the conflict one day.     

Meeting with a group of returnees and residents of the "grey zone" in Toretsk

“Entering its fourth year, the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine is protracted, complex and largely forgotten by international media and the international community,” said Dr. Thomas Lothar Weiss, Chief Mission at IOM Ukraine. “High prices for food, rent and utilities, medicines and winter clothing remain a challenge for the most vulnerable IDPs, particularly elderly people and children. According to the latest IOM Ukraine monitoring report, close to 40% of IDPs have only enough income for food. The integration of IDPs in host communities also remains challenging.” Dr. Weiss added that IOM is grateful to all donors who have been supporting the humanitarian response. “More support is critically needed now as IOM and its partners from the Humanitarian Country Team remain committed to providing humanitarian and recovery assistance, including through livelihoods, to millions of Ukrainians,” said IOM Ukraine’s Chief of Mission.