More than 5.5mn Ukrainian refugees have fled to Russia from Ukraine, survey finds half of refugees with no intention of going home

More than 5.5mn Ukrainian refugees have fled to Russia from Ukraine, survey finds half of refugees with no intention of going home
More than 5.5mn Ukrainian refugees have fled to Russia from Ukraine and half of all Ukrainian refugees have no intention of returning home. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews March 29, 2023

More than 5.5mn Ukrainian refugees have fled to Russia from Ukraine and Donbas since February 2022, according to a law enforcement official cited by TASS news agency on March 28.

In related news, half of all Ukrainians now living abroad have no intention of returning home, citing security and job concerns, up from previous polls that found a third of refugees intended to stay where they were.

Over 749,000 of those refugees are children, which highlights the severity of the humanitarian crisis Russia’s war has caused. Currently, around 39,000 refugees, including more than 11,000 children, are being housed in temporary accommodation centres in Russia, while the rest are staying with relatives, in private homes or have left the country altogether.

The Russian government has been making one-off payments of RUB10,000 ($131) per person to refugees. However, these payments have now been suspended. In total, almost RUB12.3bn ($160.6mn) have already been paid out to refugees. Despite these efforts, the sheer number of refugees arriving in Russia is causing a significant strain on resources.

The refugee crisis has been triggered by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, with many people fleeing their homes to escape the violence. A total of some 8mn Ukrainians have fled the war to neighbouring countries, with the vast majority being women, as men of military service age are barred from leaving the country.

The situation in Donbas in particular has been a source of concern, with the region seeing some of the most intense fighting of the conflict. As a result, more and more people are seeking refuge in Russia, with the numbers increasing dramatically in recent months. Ukrainians need no visa to enter Russia and no work permits. Moreover, with more than 3mn Ukrainians resident in Russia before the war, most arrivals have an extensive family and friend network to rely on for help.

The Russian authorities have been working to provide assistance to those in need, but the scale of the crisis is proving to be a significant challenge. The provision of temporary accommodation and financial support is just the beginning, and much more will need to be done to help these refugees rebuild their lives. With no end to the conflict in sight, it is likely that many more people will continue to flee the violence in the months to come.

Half of the citizens who left Ukraine after February 24 are hesitant to return to their homeland due to security concerns, according to the results of an online survey by Ukrainian Institute for the Future assessing the migration processes and moods of Ukrainians.

The survey found 37% of respondents have close relatives who were forced to leave Ukraine after the start of a full-scale Russian invasion, and 80% have friends and acquaintances who left the country, Interfax reports.

The primary reason for leaving Ukraine was the lack of a sense of security, as cited by 58% of respondents. Meanwhile, 46% of those who left after February 24, 2022 said that "everyone decides for themselves" when it comes to returning, while 21% noted that they would return immediately after the end of the war, and 16.5% said they would return only if there is no threat of occupation of their territories.

Regarding the assessment of the intentions of the closest relatives who left to return to Ukraine, 36% of respondents answered: "definitely yes they firmly decided it," while 32% considered it possible "if there is work and it is safe." However, 44% of respondents believe that their friends and acquaintances will be able to return if it is safe in Ukraine and the issue of employment can be resolved.

Among the reasons that influence the decision of people to return to Ukraine are family ties, the habitual lifestyle and environment, security, job availability, patriotism, failures in settling abroad, and caring for children. On the other hand, 55% of respondents named life prospects as reasons not to return to Ukraine, 50% cited safety and 48% pointed to the availability of work.

The survey also found that 21% of respondents knew men who left Ukraine after February 24, 2022, despite having no legal reasons or grounds for doing so, while 47% of respondents believe that everyone decides for themselves whether or not to help Ukraine, and 28% think that part of their salary should be transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.