17 February 2016 – Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Neal Walker attended the Parliamentary Hearings of Verkhovna Rada Committee for Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations dedicated to the situation of the internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ukraine.

Speech of the Humanitarian Coordinator:

“Internally displaced people – or IDP’s, are citizens forced to flee their home due to armed conflict. They saw tanks, missiles, fighting across gardens and through towns. It is not only the destruction of lives, roofs and windows: Eastern Ukraine is littered with tens of thousands of unexploded ordnance ranging from rockets through to mines, hand grenades and mortars.

Official statistics indicate there are 1.7 million IDP’s in Ukraine, almost 4% of the country’s population. I’ve met many IDP’s in my extensive travels in the eastern regions of Ukraine and I have been consistently impressed with their can-do attitude, their resilience. More than 60% are women. Over half registered are old people. I have seen the pensioners, cold and queued up to cross the contact line. All IDP’s are, by definition, Ukrainian citizens and they need our collective help and assistance.

I would like to focus on two issues.

First, the State must lead humanitarian action. This is explicitly recognized in international law and in principle.

A lot has been done, you’ve heard several other speakers reference the detail. But, there is still more to be done. For instance, from Parliament, I can suggest:

  • Mechanisms to implement laws must be made functional;
  • Although funds have been allocated, more is needed for key provisions.

UN support for IDP’s includes humanitarian action and recovery. Just this morning, with Government, I launched an appeal for Humanitarian Assistance to Ukraine. We asked for $298 million dollars in 2016 to help 2.5 million Ukrainians in need. This includes protection and emergency assistance for the most vulnerable, such as in health, shelter and food.

The UN knows how to do this. A small sample of results from our 2015 work:

· 1.6 million People got access to safe water;

· 1.2 million People received food;

· 50,000 children received psycho-social support & 187,000 education kits;

· Mobile medical teams provided consultations to 124,000 individuals;

· Over 400,000 received assistance to stay warm or in shelter

For 2016, we will need your help. In fine-tuning legislation, in allocating the funds necessary, to ensure the mechanisms exist to effectively implement the laws. We also need unfettered access and I encourage Government to remove bureaucratic barriers to ensure freedom of movement of goods and civilians across the contact line.

Recovery is different than humanitarian work, a separate area of action. IDP’s need long-term safety and security, an adequate standard of living, and guaranteed access to employment.

Despite constraints facing the country, recovery is not a distant dream. The Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment (RPA), endorsed by the Cabinet of Ministers, outlines $1.5 billion of investments in infrastructure, in restoration of public services, in livelihoods and peacebuilding. Already recovery is happening: I have personally witnessed the revitalization of eastern towns such as Severodonetsk and Kramatorsk. But, a sense of urgency and investments are needed to restore jobs and hope.

Dear friends, IDP’s are not second class citizens. We know from experience - we need clear political will to meet their needs, along with synergy between different actors and hard daily work.

I am optimistic. Ukrainian people have the capacities to lift this country up, far more quickly than many would expect. I encourage all of you here today, to place IDP’s at the core of the Government’s humanitarian and recovery effort. Such an investment would surely serve to strengthen and unite Ukraine.”

  • 1.6 million People got access to safe water;
  • 1.2 million People received food;
  • 50,000 children received psycho-social support & 187,000 education kits;
  • Mobile medical teams provided consultations to 124,000 individuals;
  • Over 400,000 received assistance to stay warm or in shelter