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An uncertain future: Ukraine Action Survey reveals that many Ukrainians do not know if they will return home.

Photograph by Mathias Reding for Pexels

The Ukrainian Action Survey of 2023 is the largest official survey of Ukrainians living in Ireland. It reports that one third (32%) of the respondents are uncertain if they will stay in Ireland, or return to their homeland.

Photograph by Алесь Усцінаў for Pexels.

Ukrainian Action Ireland is a registered non-profit organisation which was formed in 2022 to provide support to Ukrainians that sought sanctuary in Ireland after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. UACT comprises of both Irish and Ukrainian volunteers and professionals in various fields with the common goal of providing support to the Ukrainian community currently living in Ireland.

A comprehensive report of the Ukraine Action Survey of 2023 was published on 28 March 2023. The survey has revealed a very uncertain future for many Ukrainians living in Ireland.

48% of respondents arrived in Ireland between February and spring of 2022 while 25% arrived in summer and the remainder arrived after this. Only 1% arrived before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
99% of respondents are staying in Ireland with temporary protection status.

With the war still raging, and uncertainty about its conclusion, one third of respondents (32%) in the UACT survey of 2023 report that they are not sure if they will return home, and 41.3% believe that they will call Ireland their new home.

There are numerous reasons cited for their decision to stay, or uncertainty to return home, but the most common are ‘My housing in Ukraine is destroyed’ and ‘My residential area in Ukraine is occupied’. Of those that cited ‘My housing in Ukraine is destroyed’, 55.6% have decided to remain in Ireland, 28.3% are undecided.

Infographic done on Canva by Marius van Zyl. Data from Survey of Ukrainians in Ireland 2023 by Ukrainian Action Ireland

Of those that cited ‘My residential area in Ukraine is occupied’, 45.7% have decided to remain in Ireland, while 31.3% are uncertain .

As pointed out by an article published by European Central Bank, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resulted in a pronounced ripple effect in the global economy, especially the energy and food markets. The diminished supply resulted in skyrocketing prices . The impact on the euro was pronounced due to Russia being a key energy supplier to the European market.

Russia’s invasion has not only resulted in the loss of human life. It has crippled many sectors of life in Ukraine. Global Conflict Tracker, which is set up by The Council on Foreign Relations, highlights that  missile strikes significantly damaged Ukrainian urban residential areas along with communication and transportation infrastructure. Even hospitals sustained shelling and bombing attacks. For this reason, many Ukrainians are hesitant to return home.

Photograph by Алесь Усцінаў for Pexels.

However, a large majority of respondents (87%) listed acceptable conditions in Ukraine that would convince them to return home. The most common cited condition is the ‘cessation of hostilities’. 73% of respondents would consider returning home if the war ends.

An end to the war may be the biggest concern of respondents, but as mentioned earlier, the war has severely damaged infrastructure, work opportunities, and the economy. For this reason, a sizable percentage of respondents are hesitant to return home. But 55% would consider returning home if the economy and work opportunities were available. 44.5% would consider returning if infrastructure could be rejuvenated. Surprisingly, only 12.8% mention compensation for lost property.

There are personal reasons for many to return home. The survey reported that 88% of respondents have at least one reason to return to Ukraine. The most common reasons provided by respondents are: a desire to see family (60%), patriotic sentiment (53%), missing life in Ukraine (44%), the housing crisis in Ireland (44%,) and better access to medicine (42%).

There are many appealing reasons for those that wish to stay. The survey of 2023 found a correlation between English proficiency and a desire to remain in Ireland. Respondents with the lowest level of English proficiency, 32% want to stay, while 36% want to return to Ukraine. Of the respondents that are fluent in English, 52.8% of them want to continue living in Ireland.

It can only be hoped that the war will cease, allowing Ukrainian nationals all over the world to have more certainty about their plans for the foreseeable future.

Full presentation by Ukrainian Action Ireland about the Survey of Ukrainians in Ireland 2023.
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