Two years of war in Ukraine: millions of refugees need support

Два года войны в Украине: миллионы беженцев нуждаются в поддержке

A residential building in Krivoy Rog was damaged by a missile attack in July 2023. Two years of war in Ukraine: millions of refugees need support Refugees and migrants

As a result of the full-scale war in Ukraine, millions of people have been forced to flee their homes and their future remains at risk. Philippe Leclerc, Director of the European Regional Bureau of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said this at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

According to him, there are currently almost 6.5 million refugees from Ukraine worldwide, and about 3.7 million more people are internally displaced within the country.

Return home

According to preliminary findings of a recent UNHCR study, the majority of Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced persons surveyed (65 percent and 72 percent respectively) expressed a desire to return home someday. However, this figure has fallen, and more people are expressing uncertainty due to the ongoing war, a UNHCR representative said.

IDPs interviewed cited the unstable situation in Ukraine as the main factor preventing their return, their concerns also included a lack of economic opportunity and housing.

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A key priority for UNHCR is the repair of residential buildings in Ukraine, Leclerc said. To date, he said, more than 27,500 homes have been restored.

In addition, according to the study, more than half—55 percent—of refugees who returned to Ukraine reported that there were fewer job opportunities in the country than they expected.

Leclerc expressed concern that a significant proportion of survey participants indicated that they may have to return home, even if they would prefer to remain abroad due to the ongoing war. This is due to problems in host countries, namely employment opportunities and legal status.

According to Leclerc, refugees with special needs, including the elderly and people with disabilities, are also considering returning home – primarily because they see no alternatives.

Family reunification

Many men from separated families remain in Ukraine, which often creates problems for their relatives who find themselves in the new country without support, the UNHCR regional director said. The Office’s report notes that the main reason for the majority of Ukrainian refugees returning home permanently was the desire to reunite their family.

Currently, more and more refugees are making short-term visits to Ukraine – about half respondents compared to 39 percent last year – mainly to visit relatives and also check the condition of their property. This can contribute to making more informed decisions about long-term return, UNHCR believes.

In this regard, the Office calls on host states to maintain a flexible approach to short-term visits of refugees to Ukraine in order to trips lasting less than three months did not affect the legal status of refugees and rights in the host country.

Support needed

For now As the war continues, refugees, internally displaced persons and frontline residents need support, a UN official said.

UNHCR is calling for $993.3 million, of which $599 million will be allocated to help refugees in host countries. The crisis in Ukraine is currently only 13 percent funded, Leclerc noted. stop now,” he said.


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