The peninsula of Crimea is located in the southernmost part of Ukraine and is surrounded by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It is comparable in size to Belgium and has a population of just over 2 million.
About 60% of the population is ethnically Russian, 23% Ukrainian and 12% Crimean Tatar, but in total more than 100 ethnic groups live in Crimea, including Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Karaims, Krymchaks and Germans. Crimea is an Autonomous Republic within Ukraine.
In 1944 the Soviet Government forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of ethnic Crimean Tatars, as well as the smaller Bulgarian, Greek and Armenian communities to the Urals, Siberia and Soviet Central Asia for alleged collaboration with Nazi Germany. Small numbers of these latter groups returned during the 60s and 70s of the last century, but between 1989 and 1993, more than a quarter of a million Crimean Tatars returned en masse to their homeland from their places of exile.
The return of such a large number of people (over 12% of the total population of Crimea) during and immediately following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent social and economic collapse, created an immense burden on newly independent Ukraine.
As a result, relations between the mainly Crimean Tatar Formerly Deported People and the local ethnic Russian and Ukrainian population and authorities quickly deteriorated to a point where widespread violent conflict seemed inevitable, with serious destabilizing effects for the young Ukrainian state. That in the end such outbreaks of violent conflict remained limited is mainly due to the combined efforts and determination of the Government of Ukraine, the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the Crimean Tatar community and other stakeholders.
The increased political and financial resources devoted by Ukrainian Government to the problems of Crimea, as well as the active presence of International Organizations such as OSCE, UNHCR, IOM, ICRC and UNDP, has further contributed to stabilize the region. Nevertheless, large segments of Crimea’s population continues to feel excluded from opportunities to improve their living conditions and participate as full citizens in society. Lack of jobs and land and even such basic services as water, electricity, schools and health posts leave many people with little options and no confidence in the future.
If unchecked, this could result in renewed tension and possible conflict in the peninsula. UNDP CIDP is committed to preventing this by empowering people to take charge of their lives.