13 million people of Ukraine remain uprooted

13 million people of Ukraine remain uprooted

Today marks one year since the invasion of Ukraine. A year ago today, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour Ukraine, triggering the largest war in Europe since World War Two. Since then, tens of thousands of people have died, entire cities have been destroyed, and millions have fled the country.

Twelve months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 13 million people remain uprooted from their homes, including nearly 8 million refugees across Europe and more than 5 million internally displaced people within Ukraine. Around 18% of the Ukrainian population has fled, mainly to Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany. Governments have also responded in an unprecedented way to welcome Ukrainian exiles. Germany is the country that has issued the second most temporary protection statuses behind Poland and ahead of the Czech Republic, according to the latest Eurostat data.

However, the prospects for the return of Ukrainian refugees in the near future are clouded by continued hostilities, insecurity and destruction in their home regions, according to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Most refugees and internally displaced (IDPs) Ukrainians – some 77% and 79%, respectively – want to return home one day. However, only 12% of both refugees and IDPs plan to do so in the next three months.

The main impediments preventing refugees from returning are safety and security concerns in their areas of origin. Other concerns cited are about access to and availability of basic services – including electricity, water and healthcare, work opportunities and adequate housing, all of which have been hugely impacted by the war.

Among the internally displaced, access to adequate housing is the second main barrier to sustainable and dignified return, after security and safety considerations.

While the proportion of people relying on social protection or cash assistance had declined to 50% from 57%, a significant proportion remains unemployed. Many others have found low-skilled jobs, yet for the majority, the income is not enough to cover basic needs.