Residents of the territories, where military operations were recently ongoing, are being deprived of compensations

Compensations for temporarily displaced persons for residents of Vynohradne village of the Region of Donetsk, where fierce fightings took place until recently, have been suspended. It all happened because Mariupol town council has changed administrative borders of Mariupol attaching new territories, and Vynohradne village, in particular, to them. Accordingly, now residents of the village are being deprived of the status of the involuntarily displaced persons and corresponding cash payments.

By administrative division, Vynohradne village that saw fighting not so long ago belonged to the Region of Donetsk. When the village was returned under control of Ukrainian authorities, they decided to include it to Mariupol territory. As of 5 June 2015, the village officially became a part of the town.

However, this administrative division of the territories turned a real problem for former citizens of Vynohradne.

Because of the war, almost the whole population have left the village. The people acquired the status of internally displaced persons and were granted corresponding compensations. But at present all payments for the residents of Vynohradne have been suspended, as their area is now officially within Mariupol borders. Along with this, Vynohradne is still in the list of areas in which government authorities do not function. This list was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and it was not updated. Nevertheless, the displaced persons were notified by respective government authorities about suspension of the compensations.

Though the borders have been changed, former residents of Vynohradne, due to safety reasons, still cannot come back to their homes, to the territory where battles recently took place. The houses were not rebuilt in light of this decision of Mariupol town council. In some cases, there is no place to come back, as destroyed houses is not the best option. To deprive these people of the status of displaced persons and corresponding cash payments is to deprive them of support in hard times.

Mrs. Kateryna (the name was changed) is officially registered as a resident of Vynohradne. When the war came to her place as well, the woman left the house and urgently departed the territory of the military operations. Being notified that the state suspends compensations for residents of Vynohradne, Kateryna addressed for consultation of the lawyers of the civil office dealing with problems of involuntarily displaced persons from the Crimea and the East of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

To clarify the grounds for suspending the compensations, the office lawyers filed a statement on behalf of Mrs. Kateryna to the Department of labour and social protection of population. They have recently received a reply; the Department confirmed that the reason for cancelation of the payments is the change of administrative borders of the Town of Mariupol. However, as the lawyers state, according to the law, the change of administrative borders is not the ground for suspension of payments.

“Social guarantees for internally displaced persons have been granted by the national law and international acts. However, as seen in this case, this was not an obstacle for Mariupol authorities. Thus, we can advise, for example, to include the whole Region of Luhansk to the territory of the Region of Kharkiv, then the problem of internally displaced persons will be solved automatically,’ the lawyer Hanna Rassamakhina comments on the situation.

Later, Mrs. Kateryna’s temporary house was visited by the Deputy Head of the Department of labour and social protection of population that suspended the payments. They wanted to get assured that the claimant in fact lives at the given address. “However, according to the law, such visits can be made by bodies of the State Migration Service only. The visit was made during working hours. Obviously, no one was at home: Mrs. Kateryna was at work and her children were playing out. Apparently, the neighbours said that internally displaced persons do not live at this apartment. Kateryna found this out at night when she came back from work. On that account, Mrs. Kateryna’s status of internally displaced person was cancelled. Mrs. Kateryna filed a statement to the Ombudsman’s office. Currently we are preparing an administrative complaint to the Department to contest their actions,’ the lawyer Hanna Rassamakhina continues.

It is obvious that the change of administrative borders on paper does not solve problems of residents of former occupied territories in real life. On the contrary, it deprives people of state support and help. We can only hope that changes of the kind shall not lead to cancellation of human and civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine and bodies of social protection shall not judge by the only fact that an internally displaced person is a person registered at this or that region of Ukraine. In fact, an involuntarily displaced person is the one who had to leave one’s belongings and completely change one’s life in order to escape from death and wounds.

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