Lilia and her family, like more than 533,000 other internally displaced people (IDPs), have signed up for UNHCR’s cash assistance program funded by donors, including UN Humanitarian Aid. EU.
Author Victoria Andrievska | June 27, 2022
Lilia, 35, mother of one, and her family were determined to stay in Kostiantynivka, a small industrial town in eastern Ukraine, despite heavy fighting since the very beginning of the war. But, as the fierce shelling and shelling continued almost daily, they were forced to flee.
“It was getting too dangerous. The sirens were blaring every day and the front line moved closer to our town. Our daughter, Angelina, kept asking to leave, she was extremely scared and exhausted from hiding in a cold hallway every night when the sirens went off.
The deteriorating security situation was not the only concern of this family of five. Before fleeing their hometown, Lilia and her husband, Vadym, had to ask their employer – a local medical center – to grant them indefinite unpaid leave, thereby losing their only source of income. Moreover, during their flight, they were joined by their older family members – Vadym’s 61-year-old mother and 87-year-old grandmother, a great-grandmother of Angelina.
“We found ourselves in a situation where not only were we leaving everything we had behind, but we could no longer provide for our 15-year-old daughter Angelina, as well as her elderly great-grandmother whose health has been very poor in recent months. , continues Lilia.
Amid mounting fighting, the family packed their most essential belongings and took an evacuation bus to Kramatorsk and then an evacuation train to the town of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, where they found refuge in one of the student dormitories.
Having lost their income, the family now relies heavily on cash assistance provided by UNHCR, with support from donors like EU Humanitarian Aid. With a large influx of displaced people into Vinnytsia – more than 50,000 people – there are few opportunities for new jobs.
“When we signed up and received the money, it was like someone had given us a hand. In a desperate situation like ours, I was relieved to know that we would be able to buy medicine for Angelina’s great-grandmother and food for the family. Until we find new jobs, this support is essential for us,” said Lilia.
The war has uprooted the lives of millions of people in Ukraine. For many, finding a dignified source of income has become very difficult given the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
To support the Ukrainian government’s efforts to provide social support to displaced people in Ukraine, UNHCR immediately rolled out its multi-purpose cash support programme.
**“**In the first **months*of the war, when millions of people were fleeing in a very short time, it was very important to launch this cash assistance program quickly. After leaving their homes, belongings and jobs to safety, people arrived with nothing but clothes on their bodies and, in the best case, their identity papers and a toothbrush. », says Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR Representative in Ukraine”
Once safe, millions of people found themselves short of the most basic things.
*”*We couldn’t even take big bags with us,” Lilia explains “Vadym carried his grandmother in his arms the whole trip because she has mobility problems, he couldn’t carry anything else. When summer came, we had to buy new clothes for the whole family, because we had nothing for this season.
The family received clothes donated by volunteers, but for Lilia it was difficult to accept.
*”You cannot **imagine how humiliating it is, after having everything – our beloved home and our jobs – to become so dependent, to go and ask for something – to ask for clothes or *food”.
UNHCR’s multi-purpose cash program is a way to give displaced people the ability and dignity to purchase the most essential items they need at any given time. This not only helps people meet their basic needs, but also helps to reduce the risk of exploitation of people who have become socio-economically vulnerable and dependent due to their forced displacement. The program, which was set up in record time in March 2022, provides displaced people with 2,220 UAH per person per month, for a period of 3 months. Assistance is normally used to cover basic needs such as housing, food, medicine and hygiene items.
This program is in line with and complementary to the social assistance programs of the government and the Ministry of Social Policy.
‘UNHCR works to help the Ukrainian government meet the humanitarian and social needs of people affected by war. We want to ensure that our programs, such as multipurpose cash transfers, complement and reinforce national programs. This is essential for the sustainability and national leadership of the response. UNHCR therefore signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Social Policy on April 19 and worked with the Office of the President of Ukraine to design our program to achieve this goal,“said Karolina Lindholm Billing.
UNHCR identifies those eligible for cash assistance through referrals from the Ministry of Social Policy and by recruiting IDPs with specific vulnerabilities. Enlistment takes place in Cherkasy, Kirovograd, Lviv, Poltava oblasts and mobile brigades of Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and Kyiv oblast in Ukraine, with locations in the east and center of the country as a priority. A priority is to ensure that the most vulnerable people are supported, through protection screening at all registration centers to identify single-headed households, elderly people, foster families s caring for unaccompanied or separated children and other people with special needs such as disabilities.
To date, UNHCR has registered more than 516,000 displaced people for multipurpose cash assistance and processed payments for 350,035 people. Of the registered IDPs, 76 percent are women and children and the majority from the eastern and central oblasts of Ukraine.
Lilia and her family are among the millions of displaced people who yearn to return home as soon as the fighting stops.
*”Sometimes, *I wake up in the morning and almost believe that when I open my eyes, I will see myself in my dear home,” Lilia said. “I really hope that one day it won’t just be a dream, but reality.”