Ukraine refugees: Eager to work but need greater support
Refugees from Ukraine are eager to work in their host countries but need additional support to do so, and to ensure their inclusion in the communities where they are staying, according to a new survey published on Friday by UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
Lives on Hold: Intentions and Perspectives of Refugees from Ukraine, is based on 4,800 responses from people who have fled the brutal war in their homeland and are now living in countries in Europe and beyond.
The survey was conducted between August and September.
Staying put for now
Seven months after the start of the conflict, Ukrainian refugees remain grateful for the warm reception that they have received across Europe, and most plan to stay put for now, said Matthew Saltmarsh, a UNHCR Spokesperson in Geneva.
The majority, 81 per cent, intend to return home to reunite with their families, but only 13 per cent plan to do so in the next three months.
“Large parts of Ukraine remain devastated, with towns and livelihoods destroyed in many areas. The onset of winter and spiralling energy prices – or the lack of power — make return home at the moment difficult for many of the displaced,” he said.
Keen to contribute
Many refugees surveyed mentioned positive factors in their host countries, such as their links to family or friends, security and stability, the availability of medical services, access to education, and the overall economic situation.
Most are highly educated, willing to work and want to contribute. Some 70 per cent possess higher education qualifications, and two-thirds were previously working in Ukraine.
“Refugees are eager to reenter the labour market, which would lessen their reliance on welfare, but currently, less than one-third are employed or self-employed,” said Mr. Saltmarsh.
They want to play a more active role in their new communities, he added, but need support such as language classes, formal recognition of skills, and, importantly, assistance with childcare services so they can work outside the home.
Struggling to survive
Three-quarters of those surveyed said they intended to send their children to local schools, while 18 per cent preferred remote learning using the Ukrainian curriculum.
Without work, many are struggling to make ends meet and find adequate housing. Nearly half, 41 per cent, are staying with host families, and 20 per cent are living in collective sites or hotels. A quarter are renting.
“Many are deeply concerned about finding alternative sustainable solutions ahead of winter,” said Mr. Saltmarsh.
Meanwhile, psychological support and specialized help for children with disabilities and older people, are among their remaining pressing needs.
The majority of the refugees, 87 per cent, are women and children, and almost a third have a family member with at least one disability.
Support at home and beyond
With more than 7.4 million Ukrainian refugees across Europe, UNHCR is urging continued support from host countries to ensure they have access to adequate assistance, as well as socio-economic inclusion.
The agency also continues operations in Ukraine, where nearly seven million people have been uprooted.
As winter approaches, staff are conducting repairs and insulation on homes for vulnerable families.
More than 815,000 have received food and non-food items, including winter clothes, while more than 31,000 have received emergency shelter materials.
UNHCR aims to distribute emergency shelter kits for over 100,000 people by the end of the year.