UNHCR survey finds refugees from Ukraine hope to go home


Antonina* and her son Artem look at a family photo in their room at a refugee accommodation centre in Chisinau, Moldova. (*Antonia did not participate in the intentions survey)  © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

GENEVA – The majority of refugees from Ukraine hope to return home as soon as possible but around two-thirds expect to stay in their current host countries until hostilities subside and the security situation improves, according to new findings published today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

The report, ‘Lives on Hold: Profiles and Intentions of Refugees from Ukraine,’ shows refugees consistently expressing concerns about their futures due to the ongoing war, which is preventing them from making secure, long-term plans.

For the survey, UNHCR and partners interviewed some 4,900 refugees from Ukraine in the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia between mid-May and mid-June 2022 to better understand their profiles and future intentions.

The data showed that 16 per cent were planning to return to Ukraine in the coming two months, with 15 per cent of those only planning to stay temporarily to visit family, get supplies or help relatives to evacuate. Of those seeking to return, 40 per cent were planning to do so in the next month.

However, refugees’ plans on whether to stay put or when to move varied significantly according to their regions of origin, the time elapsed since displacement and their current host countries. A higher proportion of refugees from Kyiv and areas in the west were planning to return than those who arrived from the east and north.

UNHCR’s work in the region to help refugees and forcibly displaced inside Ukraine supports and complements governments’ responses, alongside UN and NGO partners. The Office is supporting refugees through cash assistance, legal counselling and information provision, distribution of relief items, creation of safe spaces and referral channels for vulnerable refugees, as well as training responders.

Since February, UNHCR has assisted over 1.5 million people across Ukraine, expanding protection, housing and assistance programmes, especially to reach those living in the areas hardest hit by the war. The current focus is on preparations for the upcoming winter. UNHCR has so far this year supported nearly 200 reception and collective centres through the creation of some 74,000 beds and is planning to scale up the accommodation capacity by creating or improving another 19,000 beds, so people who have fled their homes have a dignified and warm place to sleep. Subject to available resources, UNHCR will support families with rental assistance and repair some damaged houses, which will benefit people who have returned to their homes.

Humanitarian assistance alone is insufficient to ward off the worst effects of winter or create the livelihood opportunities and economic recovery that is urgently needed. Providing support to the government of Ukraine will be critical to ensure safe accommodation and economic opportunities for those still in Ukraine or wishing to return.

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