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The displaced – Wider and longer term thinking required

June 14, 2014

Not that long ago, the UNHCR stated there were approximately 10,000 Ukrainians displaced from Crimea.  A similar number can surely be expected from The Donbas in eastern Ukraine by now.  That such figure have surely risen since then would seem a reasonable presumption in the absence of any reliable figures.

Nonetheless, from a number of about 6 million people that live within these two to regions it seems manageable.

However, as yesterday’s entry inferred, the issue in eastern Ukraine seems unlikely to be solved in the short term, and Crimea will certainly be a protracted matter.

Yesterday, perhaps belatedly, or perhaps as the numbers are rising, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk instigated the creation of a longer term monitoring and assistance programme for the displaced.  It has fallen to Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Vitaly Yarema and Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services Vladimir Groisman to address the issues created by long term displacement.  Fortunately for once, those delegated are both capable individuals.

The immediate issues identified by Mr Yatseniuk were that of housing and work for those displaced.

Fair enough and quite right.

But that does not go far enough.  Wider and longer term thinking is required.

There needs to be a way whereby displaced pensioners can access their pension payments anywhere in the country, instead of the post offices nearest the their registered addresses.  What of students?  They should be returning to schools and universities in September.  Educational placements will need to be thought through for these displaced Ukrainians to continue their studies as seamlessly as possible.  What of hospital patients or prisoners?

The list is naturally long when some thought is applied – but sticking to the basics of accommodation, employment, education and care for the elderly seem a sensible place to start.

Looking further ahead there are such issues as war damaged accommodation and public goods to deal with too.

Nonetheless, Mr Yatseniuk is right to tackle the displacement issue as one that will be both growing in number and that will at least be medium term issue for people and the authorities.

As the causes behind the displacement do not seem likely to be solved in the immediate term, it follows the effects need be viewed through a medium or long term lens.   Mr Yatseniuk is right to tackle the displacement issue as one that will be both growing in number and that will at least be medium term issue for the displaced people and the authorities – however wider thinking is required.

For those local readers from Odessa willing to offer some assistance to this cause, see below:

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