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Ukrainian refugees’ plans to return home drop as Russian war continues

When asked about conditions for returning to Ukraine, Ukrainian refugees prioritized the restoration of critical infrastructure (34%), safety (34%), housing (26%), and an end to the full-scale invasion (26%), according to the survey.
UKRAINIAN REFUGEES
Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border, February 2022. Credit: depositphotos
Ukrainian refugees’ plans to return home drop as Russian war continues

Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted a survey of Ukrainian refugees in Germany, Poland, and Czechia, finding that half of the Ukrainians residing in those EU countries are likely to return to Ukraine. However, KIIS notes that this estimate is an “optimistic scenario.” 

The number of Ukrainians who do not plan to return to Ukraine from abroad has risen since 2022 when other poll results showed that 93% of Ukrainian refugees had planned to come back after the war.  

The KIIS survey interviewed 801 adult Ukrainian citizens who left the country after the Russian full-scale invasion started on 24 February 2022. KIIS analyzed refugees’ responses across three key areas: citizenship status, satisfaction with living conditions abroad, and prerequisites for returning.

According to the results, 66% of respondents are generally satisfied with their living conditions in Germany, Poland, and Czechia, while 26% are dissatisfied. 

7% of respondents have already obtained citizenship in another country, 12% have applied, and 34% do not plan to do so. The survey reveals that a significant portion (45%) expressed a desire to gain foreign citizenship, even if they have not yet submitted applications. 

When asked about conditions for returning to Ukraine, respondents prioritized:

  • the restoration of critical infrastructure (34%)
  • safety (34%)
  • housing (26%)
  • an end to the full-scale invasion (26%)

KIIS Executive Director Anton Grushetsky emphasized the importance of encouraging citizens to return.

“We should all be interested in having as many of our citizens as possible return to Ukraine after being forced to leave abroad,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that some population loss was inevitable due to the war. He stressed the need for both the Ukrainian government and refugees themselves to maintain ties for an increase in motivation for return. 

The survey, commissioned by the Center for Strategic Communications Forum, was conducted from 20 April to 26, 2024. While the results provide insight into refugees’ attitudes, KIIS cautions that any estimates are approximate given the ongoing war. 

In 2023, a survey titled “Citizens of Ukraine on the Polish labor market. New challenges and perspectives” revealed that 62% of Ukrainians in Poland intend to return to Ukraine, while 30% prefer to remain in Poland. Reasons for returning include concerns about relatives in Ukraine, employment challenges, limited access to healthcare and finances, and language barriers.

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