Austria – EU Fundamental Rights Agency report on plight of Ukrainian refugees one year after outbreak of war

09 March 2023

(ANS - Vienna) - The European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has released the full report of a survey on the experiences and situation of Ukrainian refugees who have found refuge in Europe. The survey collected voices and stories of some 14,685 people - mostly examining several areas: the journey from Ukraine and arrival abroad, legal aspects of being received in host countries, housing, education, employment, access to social services, health, and traumatic experiences. The rapid activation, for the first time in history, of the "Temporary Protection Directive" by the European Union has been a great help. However, practical difficulties remain.

Very interesting, the data: one in three refugees now feels part of the host country's community; but almost the same percentage would like to return to Ukraine. A quarter of respondents remain undecided.

Most respondents did not experience any difficulties in moving to and within the European Union (EU). On the contrary, most believe that they have received sufficient information about their rights and the services available under the Temporary Protection Directive. As such, one-third of the respondents applied for asylum in the host country, while the vast majority applied for temporary protection (although there are significant differences between member states).

Six out of 10 respondents were living in private housing at the time of responding to the survey. More than half had to pay to do so, in part or in full. For many, the accommodation is far from ideal. Refugees often complained of lack of privacy, having to share a kitchen or bathroom with strangers. Many adult respondents with dependent children lived in housing where their children did not have access to a quiet or separate room where they could study.

Less than half of those who were studying just before fleeing Ukraine continued their studies in the host country. The language barrier is the main reason. Four out of 10 respondents have not taken a language course in the host country since their arrival. Nearly two-thirds of the children either used online education provided by Ukrainian schools or universities or learned on their own using materials and other supports from Ukraine.

About two-thirds of those who had paid jobs in Ukraine before February 24, 2022, found jobs in the host country. However, two-thirds of the working-age respondents did not have a paid job at the time of the survey. The main barriers to accessing work were poor knowledge of the host country's language and care responsibilities, especially for women. Of particular concern is that three out of 10 respondents had experienced some form of labor exploitation.

Economic issues worry one in two respondents - aged 16 and older. These respondents report that their family has some or great difficulty making ends meet in the host country. Only slightly more than a quarter of adult respondents manage to cover basic daily expenses through their own work; and only about half of adult respondents say they have been helped financially by the authorities since their arrival.

Only one in three respondents consider themselves to be in good or excellent health. One in two respondents report long-standing illnesses or health problems. In addition, half of respondents over the age of 16 had problems accessing health care because of language difficulties or because they did not know where to go or who to contact.

One in two respondents declared they had often or always felt down and depressed since arriving in their host country. However, about two-thirds of respondents feel optimistic about the future. One in three feel part of the host country community. This optimism is due to the high percentage of respondents who have been exposed to traumatic experiences in Ukraine or the EU.

A large proportion of people fleeing Ukraine have been exposed to traumatic experiences, especially in Ukraine. Incidents that occurred in the EU remained largely unreported. In any case, only about one-third of the respondents have sought medical or psychological assistance since arriving in the EU; and about one-quarter of this group has not received the support they requested. It is also worrisome that about half of the younger children (ages 12 to 15) who participated in the survey report having difficulty sleeping and/or concentrating, losing self-confidence, or feeling vulnerable.

The survey sample consisted of 91% women. The gender imbalance reflects the underrepresentation of men in the target population due to the fact that martial law in Ukraine has banned most Ukrainian citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 from traveling abroad. The average age of the sample is 40 years old, and includes mostly people of working age (18-64).

The full FRA report can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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