COVID-19: another ordeal for Ukraine’s displaced

22 September 2020

Ukrainian internally displaced persons struggle to overcome the sudden systemic shocks of COVID-19 pandemic. Spending their modest savings and limiting expenses for food are among the coping strategies, revealed a survey presented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine.

As many as 70 per cent of female-headed displaced households with children stated in the IOM survey that they have enough money only for food or that the lower income compelled them to save on meals. This is also the harsh reality for 60 per cent of surveyed displaced households consisting only of persons aged 60 and over, as well as for 60 per cent of respondents from families with people with disabilities.

The average monthly income per internally displaced person (IDP) was UAH 3,350 (USD 125) as of June, 26 per cent lower than the minimum subsistence level calculated by the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine. As a result, the number of respondents who stated that they had to spend their limited savings increased by one third, from 29 per cent in September 2019 to 40 per cent in June 2020.

Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents confirmed they were placed on unpaid or partially paid leave throughout the quarantine period. This trend particularly affected women.

While a half of the respondents confirmed relying on government support to IDPs, and 38 per cent indicated pensions as their key source of income, over one third (35%) of IDPs said they had problems with receiving social payments in April–June 2020. The most frequently reported challenge, especially among the respondents aged 60 and over, was the fear to leave home because of the risk to get infected.

After the six years of protracted displacement, 60 per cent of IDPs live in rented spaces, and almost a third (27%) of them confirmed being at risk of eviction as they lacked funds to pay for accommodation.

“Despite all the challenges, the share of IDPs planning to return to their place of origin once the conflict is over decreased from 28 per cent in December 2018 to 19 per cent in June 2020,” said Marco Chimenton, Emergency and Stabilization Programme Coordinator at IOM Ukraine. “Ukrainian displaced and local communities, affected by the double burden of protracted conflict and COVID-19 pandemic, need additional support to recover from shocks and build a safe and prosperous future,” he added.

IOM has been conducting regular surveys on the situation of IDPs in Ukraine since 2016. Over 6,000 respondents were interviewed in the two latest rounds, conducted in FebruaryMarch and in AprilJune 2020. The surveys, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), provide regular overviews of the socioeconomic conditions of displaced communities in Ukraine, as well as an evidence base for the development of humanitarian, socioeconomic recovery and development programmes.

Please review the full-text reports of the latest, 16th and 17th rounds of National Monitoring System on the situation of internally displaced persons.