Ukraine IDP Figures Analysis
IDMC estimates that there are 1.4 million IDPs in Ukraine as of August 2015.
IDPs in Ukraine have fled Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The IDMC estimate of 1,476,226 internally displaced persons is a composite of two figures: IDPs in Ukrainian government-controlled areas and IDPs within Crimea. The methodologies used to produce these two figures are different.
As of 28 August 2015, the Ministry of Social Policy had registered 1,459,226 IDPs in areas under government control (Ministry of Social Policy, 28 August 2015). The vast majority fled eastern Ukraine while around 20,000 had fled Crimea (State Emergency Service, 2014). The NGO Crimean Diaspora estimates between 50,000 to 60,000 people have fled Crimea, though not all have been registered (Crimea Diaspora, 3 August 2015).
There were an estimated 17,000 IDPs in Crimea as of October 2014 (UNHCR, October 2014). These IDPs are not registered by Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy since the area is not under the effective control of Ukraine. The methodology for the calculation of this estimate is unknown and an updated figure is not available.
In Crimea, IDPs began to flee in March 2014 prior to a referendum in which the Crimean authorities reported more than 96 per cent of voters favoured the republic becoming part of Russia. A second wave of displacement followed Russia’s declared annexation of Crimea. Many pro-Ukraine activists, journalists, officials as well as Crimean Tatars, an important ethnic minority in the peninsula, fled Crimea out of fear or because of threats, intimidation and discrimination on account of their ethnicity or political opinions (UNHCR, 18 August 2014).
In eastern Ukraine, displacement is a result of the conflict between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists aligned with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The vast majority of IDPs fled the area starting in mid-2014 as fighting in the east intensified following referendums on self-rule and stepping up of the Ukrainian army’s so-called anti-terrorist operation in May 2014. People continue to flee despite two ceasefires.
IDPs have been displaced to every region in the country. IDPs from Crimea have mainly fled to western areas while those from eastern Ukraine have mainly been displaced within the east of the country (OCHA, 23 January 2015). The eastern regions of Kharkiv (186,674), Donetsk (539,547), Luhansk (213,758), Zaporozhia (99,848), and Dnipropetrovsk (72,391) accommodate three quarters of the IDP population (Ministry of Social Policy, 21 August 2015). The figures represent the locations where IDPs registered. They may have since moved on, but those movements are not tracked (OCHA, 8 May 2015).
Disaggregated data is only available for IDPs displaced from eastern Ukraine. It is disaggregated by location and the following categories of people: children, disabled, working age people and people receiving a pension, which includes but is not limited to old-age pensioners.As of August, 12.6 per cent of IDPs are children, 4.2 per cent are people with disabilities, 23.7 per cent are working age 59.1 per cent are receiving some type of pension (Ministry of Social Policy, 21 August 2015).
Sex disaggregated data is no longer publicly available following the transition of reporting on IDP registration figures from the State Emergency Services to the Ministry of Social Policy which took place in early 2015. Data disaggregated by the specific needs of IDPs is also not available.
The true number of IDPs is different than reported. Some IDPs do not have the documentation required or do not qualify to register as IDPs, and children can only be registered by their parents or a legal guardian (Protection Cluster, August 2015). Following the government’s suspension of social benefit payments and closure of central bank offices in non-government controlled areas in December 2014, some people registered as IDPs in government-controlled areas to receive their benefits and now shuttle back and forth (OCHA, 24 April 2015). There are also an unknown number of IDPs within non-government controlled areas in eastern Ukraine.
There is no reliable estimate of the number of returned IDPs to eastern Ukraine or Crimea.