September 28, 2023

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A harsh winter is coming: Europe could be in trouble if Ukrainian refugees start moving again

Since Russia’s war began, Europe has taken in at least 4.4 million Ukrainian citizens, more than the 1.2 million taken in during the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis. However, it is clear that the number of Ukrainians forced to flee their country may continue to increase as a very cold winter approaches and Russia is deliberately destroying Ukraine’s civil infrastructure, especially energy supplies.

It will be a tough winter as the continent faces its most significant mass forced migration since World War II. As the conflict in Ukraine continues, Ukrainian refugees will stay longer, said Han Beirens, head of Europe at the Brussels-based Migration Policy Institute. For the New York Times. This statement seems to have already been confirmed, because the Ukrainian government does not really want the refugees to come home, even if they don’t want to, because the severely damaged energy network and infrastructure are already on the verge of collapse – more details we wrote on this topic in this article:

Hungary prepares

We are ready for the return of refugees – said the government spokeswoman Alexandra Centrally. to the British Telegraph. When the paper visited the humanitarian transit point opened in the BOK hall, 70 Ukrainians had arrived. The government spokesperson said:

The arrivals said that they came to Hungary because of power cuts, cold and lack of heat. We expect their numbers to be even higher in winter.

All this coincides with police reports of thousands of Ukrainian border crossings almost every day, while Migration Aid, one of the most important domestic organizations dealing with refugees, also wrote about the Learning Without Borders school project on its Facebook. With power outages and the coming winter, the refugees are expecting more movement.

Where are the Ukrainian refugees going?

A significant number of Ukrainians are forced to leave their homeland, but consider Hungary not as a final destination, but as a temporary rest stop, from where they will go to other countries, and it is worth seeing what the situation is. European countries receiving the most Ukrainian refugees since the outbreak of war.

The According to data from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency The majority of the 4.46 million Ukrainian refugees who fled to Europe, about 1.47 million people received temporary protection in Poland, followed by Germany with 815 thousand, and the third place on the list was the Czech Republic, which received 455 thousand refugees.

Poland and refugees

Poland is one of the most vocal countries for the Ukrainian cause within Europe, and although the country continues to welcome incoming refugees, difficulties appeared relatively early. It was already detected in the country in April, the influx of refugees exacerbated the housing hardships experienced in the country. Record high rents continued to rise, with tenants in Poland paying an average of 18 percent more in September than in the same period a year earlier, according to Eurostat data.

This is how Ukrainian refugees left for Poland.  Photo: Deposit photosThis is how Ukrainian refugees left for Poland. Photo: Deposit photos
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However, for the time being, the experience of refugees in Poland seems to be correct. Anadolu news agency quoted According to a survey conducted by Gremi Personal, 51.1 percent of Ukrainian refugees living in the country believe that their standard of living has improved significantly, while 36.7 percent of participants reported that their standard of living has not changed. The percentage of refugees who said their situation had worsened was 12.2 percent. Some people see Poland as a Western country even though they insist that they can buy things in Poland that they cannot buy in their own countries.

Poland through an emergency assistance mechanism It received a first tranche of 144.6 million euros from the European Commission, the largest tranche of the 248 million euro package given to supporting countries.

Although the situation seems surprisingly happy, the country is burdened with the reception and care of refugees, which is clearly indicated by the government’s decision that from mid-November accommodation facilities in mass shelters will not be fully occupied; That they will pay

Poland cannot bear all the costs of housing refugees, so the authorities are forced to introduce it, said Pavel Šefernaker, Deputy Minister of the Interior and Government Commissioner for Refugees. As he said, the government expects Ukrainians to be able to pay for accommodation because most of them are already working.

This was reported by the Visit Ukraine Ukraine state websiteAt the same time, this tightening does not affect everyone: pensioners, people with disabilities and single mothers with several children are exempted from paying fees.

The Germans expect another wave

The German government pledged in October to provide additional support to cities and towns struggling to accommodate the more than 1.1 million refugees and migrants who have arrived in the country this year — and, in the country’s case, that number includes those who have arrived. Includes visits to Afghanistan and Syria. After meeting with state and local officials, Interior Secretary Nancy Fazer pledged to immediately provide additional properties to about 4,000 refugees to ease the ongoing housing crisis, even though the government had already allocated federal property to tens of thousands of refugees earlier this year. .

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At the time, the minister added, Germany clearly expects the number of refugees to increase as winter approaches – and this could put an additional burden on an already overburdened Germany. With traditional centers overflowing, many cities have recently started pitching tents and turning convention centers into temporary shelters – Euronews writes.

The situation is not so easy in parts of the country where there is at least adequate space – Speaking to Deutsche Welle Aid workers in the East German city of Cottbus, for example, are faced with the fact that even though refugee accommodation has been resolved, many issues remain unresolved, and integration is incomplete.

Stefanie Kaygusuz-Shurmann, head of the Department of Education and Integration in Cottbus, said the government reimburses us for the preliminary asylum costs, but not the operating costs. According to him, the city lacks translators and staff who can provide additional assistance, so it relies on the generosity of volunteers. He added that medical clinics were struggling to maintain a normal flow of patients and admit war refugees.

According to city statistics, about 1,500 refugees from Ukraine have settled here, a third of whom are of school age. That means around 500 children and young people with different educational backgrounds, language skills and war trauma need to be quickly integrated into the local school system.

Cottbus, like many parts of Germany, was struggling with infrastructure problems before the war. For the city administration, the solution is a construction training and recruitment campaign. It can’t happen overnight, and both require state and federal funding. They have been increasingly complaining that the central government is failing them and that the aid promised earlier this year has not yet been delivered.

Rich Germany can do everything. But money is not distributed equally

Jan Glossmann, the mayor’s spokesman, told DW.

Unrest spreads

The Czech Republic, which has the third largest number of refugees, is still keeping pace, but other European countries have already indicated that if things continue like this, there could be trouble.

United Kingdom

Leaders of the UK County Councils Network have warned that the British Government must act urgently to tackle the ongoing homelessness crisis among Ukrainian refugees. More than 100,000 people have been hosted by British families under the Homes for Ukraine programme. The Guardian writes. Meanwhile, according to surveys, only 10-15 percent of the still very receptive British population will offer shelter to a Ukrainian refugee again in the spring. According to UNHCR data, the United Kingdom granted temporary protection to 141,000 people.

How will Europe handle the new wave of Ukrainian refugees?  Photo: Deposit photosHow will Europe handle the new wave of Ukrainian refugees? Photo: Deposit photos
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The situation is similarly troubling in Ireland, where only one of the 29 properties recently bought by the government and designed to house refugees is being used, but accommodation for incoming Ukrainians continues to struggle – According to Irish Mirror sources A government office confirmed that 68 buildings and 32 lots are “currently redundant and vacant”.

In addition, Ireland’s problems really peaked when several newly arrived Ukrainians were forced to spend the night at the airport a few weeks ago. Since then, the country’s ambassador to Ukraine, Therese Healy, has urged Ukrainians not to move to Ireland because it is not certain they will find suitable housing. The ambassador said that he had never seen so many people go to Ireland before. Express writes. According to UNHCR data, Ireland has granted temporary protection to 61,000 people.

Spain, Portugal

In Spain, home to 142,000 people, the problems are not primarily housing. The country has been providing health and employment services to Ukrainian refugees since day one, but despite all this, they struggle to find decent paid work, especially suited to their qualifications. Job seekers are often pushed into low-wage sectors such as tourism, agriculture and construction. In Spain, according to official data, only 13 percent of the 90,000 Ukrainians of working age work – ABC News reports.

A similar situation exists in Portugal, home to more than 52,000 people, with a complex but working program to help refugees find housing and also provide housing support. As in Spain, the main difficulty here is finding a job: the country’s employment center knows 5,523 Ukrainian refugees.

Europe is facing a challenging period

Overall, it is certainly encouraging that there are currently many European countries accepting many refugees, such as Poland, Romania or the Czech Republic, where they do not realize there is a problem. At the same time, the fact that many countries hosting tens of thousands of Ukrainians are already facing challenges shows that if the wave of refugees starts again with a cold winter, Europe will face entirely new challenges.