Since 2014, the on-going war in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 14,000 casualties and displaced nearly 2 million individuals, primarily from the former oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk (the Donbas). What can this large scale population movement add to our understanding of displacement and conflict? How can the experiences of IDPs in Ukraine inform the meaning and measurement of the strains displacements places upon the State?
We trace displacements trends from eastern Ukraine, linking internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugee flows to conflict intensity and humanitarian infrastructural damage and comparing reception programs and registration processes in the Russian Federation (refugees) and Ukraine (IDPs). Focusing on Ukraine’s attempts to provide access to education, healthcare, and electoral rights to the nearly 1.5 million displaced individuals registered, we critically explore the impact of displacement on the ability to ensure access to core services. Employing data on border crossings and regional statistics, we offer preliminary findings concerning the continuing challenges over property right protection and asset access for many of the displaced. Findings add detail to the Donbas case, highlight the problematic delineation of refugees and IDPs during separatist conflicts and open new avenues for the measures of state capacity, and resource constraints, in addressing the needs of IDPs.