Borders & Belonging: Are Ukrainian refugees still ‘temporary’?
More than 8m Ukrainians are living elsewhere in Europe. What’s happening to them – and their host countries?
Since February 2022, over 19m Ukrainians have fled their country. Almost half probably remain spread across the world, most of them in Europe. They are considered temporary refugees – but are they really temporary? Where are these people, and what challenges face their host countries?
First in this episode, we'll hear from Aleksandra and Michał Miszułowicz, a couple in Poland who helped resettled thousands of Ukrainian refugees as soon as the conflict began in 2022.
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Host Maggie Perzyna then turns to two academic experts to explore the situation of Ukrainian refugees: Izabela Grabowska, professor of social sciences at Kozminski University in Poland, where she is also director of the Centre for Research on Social Change and Human Mobility (CRASH), and Yuliya Kosyakova, professor of migration research at the Otto Friedrich University Bamberg and head of the research department at the Research Institute of the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg, Germany.
Maggie is a researcher with the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration & Integration program at Toronto Metropolitan University and this podcast is Borders & Belonging. In it, Maggie talks to leading experts from around the world and people with on-the-ground experience to explore the individual experiences of migrants: the difficult decisions and many challenges they face on their journeys.
She and her guests will also think through the global dimensions of migrants’ movement: the national policies, international agreements, trends of war, climate change, employment and more.
Borders & Belonging brings together hard evidence with stories of human experience to kindle new thinking in advocacy, policy and research.
Top researchers contribute articles that complement each podcast with a deeper dive into the themes discussed.
Borders & Belonging is a co-production between the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration & Integration at Toronto Metropolitan University and openDemocracy. The podcast was produced by LEAD Podcasting, Toronto, Ontario.
Below, you will find links to all of the research referenced by our guests, as well as other resources you may find useful.
Art and documentary
‘Arts of war: Ukrainian artists confront Russia’, by Blair Ruble, Wilson Centre (2023)
‘Children caught up in the Ukraine War’, by DW Documentary (2023)
‘Defying Russian missiles and Soviet censors, Ukrainian art goes on show’, by Scott Rayburn, New York Times (23 November 2022)
‘How Ukrainian refugees in Poland are coping a year on from the war’, by BBC Newsnight (2023)
‘Ukrainian refugees in Russia’, by ARTE.tv Documentary (2022)
‘Uprooted’, by Andzej Gavriss, Creative Agency Don’t Panic, for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (2022)
Donate or get involved!
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
United Nations Population Fund
‘Even once female Ukrainian refugees reach safety, they face new burdens as single heads of household’, by Dilek Cindoglu, The Conversation (25 February 2022)
‘Invisible’ migrants Ukrainian refugees in Poland brace themselves for a long war’, by Kristina Safonova, Meduza (9 March 2023)
‘Lessons from history for our response to Ukrainian refugees’, by Sascha Becker, VoxEU (29 March 2022)
‘One year after the Russian invasion, insecurity clouds return intentions of displaced Ukrainians’, by UNHCR (23 February 2023)
‘One year on, volunteers in Poland are still doing all they can for Ukrainian refugees’, by Rafał Kostrzyński, UNHCR (22 February 2023)
‘Poland’s hospitality is helping many Ukrainian refugees thrive – 5 takeaways’, by Patrice McMahon, The Conversation (2 March 2023)
‘Refugees from Ukraine face considerable uncertainty about their future’, by Christiane Keitel and Jutta Winters, IAB-Forum (2 March 2023)
‘'There is no time to grieve': Ukrainian refugees arriving in Warsaw focus on helping each other’, by Margo McDiarmid, CBC News (13 March 2022)
‘Ukraine exposes Europe’s double standards for refugees’, by Emily Venturi and Anna Iasmi Vallianatou, Chatham House (30 March 2022)
‘Ukrainian refugees need security. EU’s temporary protection can’t give it’, by Zeynep Şahin Mencütek, openDemocracy (11 March 2022)
‘Ukrainian women in Poland—an insecure sanctuary’, by Marta Kucharska, Social Europe (16 September 2022)
‘We understand what war means’: Poles rush to aid Ukraine’s refugees’, by Lorenzo Tondo and Weronika Strzyżyńska, The Guardian (5 March 2022)
Research projects and policy
‘Canada launches new temporary residence pathway to welcome those fleeing the war in Ukraine’, by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Government of Canada (17 March 2022)
‘Council Directive 2001/55/EC’, Eur-lex
‘How large will the Ukrainian refugee flow be, and which EU countries will they seek refuge in?’, by Mikael Elinder, Oscar Erixson and Olle Hammar, Delmi Policy Brief, 3 (2022)
‘Integrating refugees and asylum seekers into the German economy and society: empirical evidence and policy objectives’, by Herbert Brücker, Philipp Jaschke and Juliya Kosyakova, Migration Policy Institute (December 2019)
‘Lives on Hold: Intentions and Perspectives of Refugees from Ukraine #3’, by UNHCR and Ipsos (22 February 2023)
‘Operational data portal: Ukraine refugee situation’, by UNHCR
‘Poland’s civil society is caught between Russia and the West’, by Paweł Marczewski (30 November 2022)
‘Preliminary findings from an online survey of Ukrainian refugees in Germany and Poland’, by Steffen Pötzschke, Bernd Weiß, Anna Hebel, Joachim Piepenburg and Oleksandra Popek, LSE (12 May 2022)
‘Temporary protection’, Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission (2022)
‘Temporary protection for foreigners’, Office for Foreigners, Republic of Poland (2022)
‘War and migration: the recent influx from Ukraine into Poland and possible scenarios for the future’, by Maciej Diszczyk and Pawel Kaczmarczyk, CMR Spotlight, Centre of Migration Research (April 2022)
Jacoby, T. (2022). ‘Displaced: The Ukrainian refugee experience’. Talentos Press.
Kasińska-Metryka, A., & Pałka-Suchojad, K. (Eds.). (2023). ‘The Russia-Ukraine War of 2022: Faces of Modern Conflict’. Taylor & Francis.
Bajaj, S. S., & Stanford, F. C. (2022). ‘The Ukrainian refugee crisis and the pathology of racism’. BMJ.
De Coninck, D. (2022). ‘The refugee paradox during wartime in Europe: How Ukrainian and Afghan refugees are (not) alike’. International Migration Review,
Duszczyk, M., & Kaczmarczyk, P. (2022). ‘Poland and War refugees from Ukraine–Beyond pure Aid’. Institut-Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung an der Universität München.
Grabowska, I. (2023). ‘Societal dangers of migrant crisis narratives with a special focus on Belarussian and Ukrainian borders with Poland’. Frontiers.
Kanas, A., & Kosyakova, Y. (2023). ‘Greater local supply of language courses improves refugees’ labor market integration’. European Societies.
Kosyakova, Y., Kristen, C., & Spörlein, C. (2022). ‘The dynamics of recent refugees’ language acquisition: how do their pathways compare to those of other new immigrants?’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
Ociepa-Kicińska, E., & Gorzałczyńska-Koczkodaj, M. (2022). ‘Forms of aid provided to refugees of the 2022 Russia–Ukraine War: The case of Poland’. International journal of environmental research and public health.
Panchenko, T. (2022). ‘Prospects for Integration of Ukrainian Refugees into the German labor market: Results of the ifoOnline Survey’, Institut-Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung an der Universität München.
Toruńczyk-Ruiz, S. (2014). ‘Neighbourhood ties and migrant networks: The case of circular Ukrainian migrants in Warsaw, Poland’. Central and Eastern European Migration Review.
Welcome to Borders & Belonging, a podcast that explores issues in global migration, and aims to debunk myths about migration based on current research. This series is produced by CERC Migration and openDemocracy. I'm Maggie Perzyna, a researcher with the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration program at Toronto Metropolitan University.
It's been just over a year since Russia's most recent invasion of Ukraine. The war waged by Vladimir Putin has killed 1000s of innocent people and displaced millions more. Since February 2022, over 19 million Ukrainians have fled their country. While it is estimated that just over half have returned in the ensuing months, the rest remain spread across the world, particularly in Europe. As of March 2023, the UNHCR estimates over 8 million Ukrainians are living in other parts of Europe. The main narrative around these displaced Ukrainians suggest that they're temporary refugees who will have returned home when the war ends.
Today, we're going to delve into where these refugees settled, the unique challenges facing the countries providing refuge. And if the idea of 'temporary refugees' is a valid one. But first, we'll hear from a couple in Poland who helped resettled 1000s of Ukrainian refugees as soon as the conflict began in 2022. Aleksandra Miszułowicz will never forget the teen boy she met last June while volunteering at a welcome center for Ukrainian refugees in her hometown of Raszyn, located just outside of Warsaw.
We make some packages for children and there was a boy, a teenager, and he didn't want to take this present. And his face was you know, with no emotions. He was like a sheet of paper. His grandmother told you know, he just came from Mariupol. And he was really frozen. And we are near the airport here in Raszyn. And anytime the plane was starting children, little children four, three years old, were crying or hiding. And their families told, "you know you're safe here, you're safe here".
This boy was one of the thousands of Ukrainian refugees that Alexandra and her husband met since February 2022, when they banded together with their neighbors to support people fleeing the war. It was a cause they were committed to from the moment Russia announced the invasion.
We were looking at it very carefully because we are really near of this here in Poland. And the day before our president were in Ukraine and we all have hoped that Russian won't do it, but they did it. And it was the moment when we starting to think what we should do in this situation. And the next day and we started to prepare to help. Because we knew that many, many people will come here, and it was some thought that in 1939 nobody helped us and now we may fix something, and we will do it different in this situation.
Aleksandra curates art exhibitions for a living. Her husband Michał is a banker. Neither had prior experience resettling newcomers, but that didn't stop them. They dipped into their savings account, booked all their vacation days and jumped into 12-hour shifts preparing for their new neighbours. For the first few months, they operated at a sports center in town alongside 15 other volunteers in their community. Michał says contributions came in from individuals, local foundations, and even some generous donors in Hawaii.
We put together, I don't know maybe 20, 20-something beds, sheets and blankets to be prepared for people coming. People were coming asking what needs to be brought? So, food, so clothes. There was a huge movement. People were volunteering to meet the refugees on the main train stations. And also, there were or lists to host those people in in our flats in our homes. It was quite spontaneous and self-organized.
As people started streaming in, Aleksandra realized just how much every single donation counted.
It was really, really awful because many people came with nothing. They went from their home, they took one suitcase, or they didn't take it. And they come to us we have many clothes. And we put these clothes with the size and space and, we helped these people to find clothes for them.
After a few months based out of the sports distribution center, the municipality of Raszyn stepped in and provided the volunteer group with three large shipping containers where they could store even more donations. One served as an office and food storage, another housed clothing, and the third contained donations for kids. But the community's efforts did not stop there. They soon realized they had to adjust how some things ran in the town, in order to make sure their new neighbours felt safe.
People came just from the battlefield, and they were really scared, and it took some time to calm down. Even our fire station issued some communication when the sirens were going on. So, before they were sending communications on Facebook, not to be afraid because either it was an exercise, or it was due to some holidays, that it's not an airstrike alone.
The Miszułowiczs and their fellow volunteers ran the distribution center until September of 2022. They estimate that from April to September between 300 and 500 people accessed their services daily. And while some of them eventually continued on to other parts of Europe, or returned to Ukraine, many stayed in Poland, where they successfully lay down some roots.
Sometimes people just came after several weeks or months bringing some stuff back. Because they started the job. They were able to pay for themselves and they thought that they would bring back some food or some clothes, so other people can use it.
Today, the distribution center is no longer in operation. But Ukrainians continue to be a huge part of the community in Raszyn. There are approximately 400 Ukrainian children in local schools. There's also an active Facebook group, where people help each other out whenever the need arises. And through it all, Alexandera says there's a deep sense of camaraderie.
I really think that Ukrainians are great people. I met so many great people from them. Now Poland and Ukraine are like sisters.
Many thanks to Alexandra and Michał Miszułowicz for sharing their experiences in Raszyn, Poland. Now I'd like to welcome two people to the discussion. The first is Izabela Grabowska, Professor of Social Sciences at Kozminski University, and director of the CRASH Center for Research on Social Change and Human Mobility, and Yulia Kosyakova, Professor of Migration Research at the Otto-Friedrick University Bamberg and head of the research department at the Research Institute of the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg, Germany. Thanks to you both for joining me. Since the Russian aggression against Ukraine escalated in 2022, millions have fled across the border to neighboring countries. Some have returned to Ukraine, but many are staying elsewhere. Where did the majority of the refugees flee to and why? Izabela let's start with you.
Majority of Ukrainian refugees or forced migrants seeking temporary protection came and still are coming to Poland, because it's the neighboring country, and we share some cultural proximities. They came in big numbers. Since the escalation started on the 24th of February 22, we experienced 10 million border crossings, 8 million returns. Exercise kind of circulation or pendulum migration, visiting their families, helping, coming back to the families who they brought to Poland. And so, we see that the Ukrainian-Polish border is really busy. We see now that one and a half million of these refugees stayed in Poland and started their new lives. Yulia?
Yes, thank you. So, what we observe is that following the numbers of UNHCR, 4.9 million refugees from Ukraine were registered to seek for refugee in Europe. And beyond Poland, the second country receiving the largest number of refugees is Germany with somewhat over 1 million of refugees from the Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
The EU implemented the temporary protection directive for Ukrainians fleeing to member states. Can you tell us what this designation means?
So, this temporary protection, it was developed already in the 90s, but first implemented to Ukrainian refugees. And this direction, provides support for people fleeing the war, is now for Ukrainians. And it allows people to enter European countries and to get protection to get social assistance, access to health labour market, possibly language courses. And it also doesn't restrict people to the first safe country, as per Dublin agreement. So, people also have right to move further across European Union.
Izabela, do you have anything to add?
In practice it meant that it gave opportunities for hosting countries like for Poland, for instance, to get access to the mainstream public policies of Poland. Which means, the access to the social benefit system, the access to health care, the access to public education, the access to labour market policies. So, in practice, it is important to have this directive which is then transposed to national Acts like in Poland, it's a special Act for Ukrainian refugees, which also limits in time some solutions. Yes?
So, what is very important, about this directive is that Ukrainian refugees do not have to go through asylum procedures. So, this is a procedure which kind of used for asylum seekers, for example, it was in 2015, 2016, where they have to prove that they left because of for example, persecution. And it was now withdrawn for Ukrainian refugees, which is kind of very good signal because asylum procedures and particularly lengthy - asylum procedures, may have negative effects on people's integration and participation in education system, in labour market, in this society, it may affect negatively health, particularly psychological well-being.
What supports are country's offering to Ukrainian refugees. Izabela, can you tell us what Poland is doing?
What is the most important and it has been from the onset of the Russian escalation is that Ukrainian parents, mostly mothers, were eligible to get the access to school benefits just for school start. And also, pensioners, were eligible to enter the pension schemes. That was very important for Ukrainian refugees, knowing also the differences between level of wages and levels of benefits between Ukraine and Poland, it was still important to start a new life. Another support was from public employment services that Ukrainian refugees were offered service from labour offices and other institutions offered language courses and this is the biggest issue for now to be in the labour market and not to lose qualifications obtained before. Because still, despite proximities between Ukraine and Poland, the language is different. Even sometimes it sounds similar, but it's different. And alphabet is different. Ukrainian is Cyrillic. Polish is a Latin alphabet. So many people cannot work according to their qualification. Do you due to language barriers, and also there is a fast track for skill recognition, especially for medical personnel. And from the very beginning, there were reception centers organized by civic society, which was mobilized in the really incredible numbers, then by NGOs, then supported by local governments. And at the end, reception centers were to a very limited degree supported by the government. Now, what we have, we do not have any more reception center unless there are few points on the border, or closer to the border regions. But we have collective accommodation places. Poland never created refugee camps or transition camps or whatever. But we had collective accommodation places which are now supported by the regional authorities. To sum up, the most important were reception centers. First aid after arrival, first humanitarian aid, access to social benefits and services from public employment services, and the biggest informal support by the society. As President Biden mentioned in his visit to Poland, charity superpower.
Yulia, can you share what's happening in Germany to support refugees?
In Germany, there are various support programs, and many of those similar to what is in Poland. So, what Izabela told us. Maybe I will name the most important. So first of all, Germany is oriented on longer integration of Ukrainian refugees into the society and labour market, even though if some are aiming to come back or to return to Ukraine when the war ends, they still can benefit from those kinds of human capital resources. So first of all, Germany provides so-called 'integration courses', which are language courses, like 600 hours of language course and 100 hours of kind of information, cultural integration, and how the society and system works. And these courses are for free and really very important for labor market integration. So, kind of participating or completing such measure is associated with increased labour market chances. Also, where Germany provides support is in recognition of certificates. Or, of course, Ukrainian refugees have direct access to the health care system, and also on bureaucratic access to the welfare system, to the Social Security Code. And it is not only important, because it provides financial support to people in their first phases at arrival. But also, people are directly integrated in the labour market and employment counseling systems. So, they get this whole information about jobs and potential, you know, adult education or training possibilities, which is also what our results from previous research showed is also related positively with employment outcomes. Unfortunately, Germany's labour market is not so flexible as in Poland, and we do not have so fast recognition of certificates that this is the drawback here. Women are much less well integrated into the labour market. So, what we see is that the employment rate of men increases over duration of stay, like six months since after arrival, it increased to 24%. While we do not observe any change for women, so it stays on the level of 16%. And this is driven a lot by family care obligations and the lack of childcare infrastructure for children.
About 90% of those escaping the conflict are women and children. How does that factor into the support needed in settling these refugees?
When we look at the situation of children, the children in the school age are by far best integrated into the entire education system in terms of having access and [unclear] in education, which is less the case for children below the age of three. So, with lower age, we have lower access to the childcare or education system. But even in the, for children of the school age system, I'm a little bit critical on that, because they are put in these so called 'Welcome classes'. And they are not really, or at least it is, it [differs] by region in Germany. And myself, I have my sister and my niece arrived from Ukraine and their sons both go to schools in Germany, and they are in these 'Welcome classes', where they are generally always other Ukrainian kids, and do not really learn German language and do not truly integrate in the education system. So, in my view, it is very critical. But generally, when we talk about women with children below the age of six, there are a lot of issues because particularly these women have less access to integration courses. So, to language courses, they enter those courses much later. And this translates, of course, into the labour market. They are less present in employment. They do have fewer social connections, and there are kind of generates a lot of pressure and stress for these women.
Indeed, many of refugee women came with children of various ages, from preschool age, primary school age, and teenagers and high school. And this involves a variety of different problems. Those who came with preschool aged children were, of course, embedded into the public kindergarten system quite quickly, the preschool care. It's well developed in Poland, especially that women arrived in big cities like Warsaw, Wrocław, Poznań, Kraków, where the infrastructure is there. The problem for a woman was that they needed to pick up the children quite early, between 3pm and 4pm during the day. And in Poland, it's not very popular to have a part time job. If you have a job, it's a full-time job. So, it's usually eight hours. So, they said that the biggest challenge for them is to combine time they need to pick up their children from crèches or kindergartens, and the time when a job ends. And they are still kind of struggling with that. Another issue is for school children. And there are plenty of challenges because Polish education system has not been prepared for such a sudden inflow. Suddenly in the educational system appeared last year 400,000 extra pupils, and we know with the accumulation in big cities. And we know now that 120,000 stayed for the second term. So, some of the kids either returned to Ukraine, or they continue online education. And then there are children who are teenagers. And for instance, they arrived before final exams. Imagine that you need to turn from primary school to high school, or to take the final exam, and you don't have the language, you go into the mainstream. So, you're obliged to do that. And there were the challenges, which were enormous, both for children, and for their mothers who were here because they couldn't help them to prepare for the classes. And they couldn't also help them much with their choices eventually for the future for the new high school or for the university. So, these are the problems. So, we do not think about in details. But really, schools take a lot because it's not only integration into the education system, but this integration in the wider sense because parents also integrate through schools. So, it's an addressed issue in Poland. And we need to have big discussion and more funding going directly to the educational system.
The narrative around those fleeing the war is that they are ‘temporary refugees’. History shows a different story. Many Ukrainians who fled when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014 never returned. They created new lives in neighboring countries and stayed. Can you see the same thing happening now?
I think it is too early to make such conclusions. But what we observe at least for Germany, from our survey is that roughly 1/3 are planning to stay in Germany forever, 1/3 are planning to return to Ukraine by the end of the war, and 1/3 are still uncertain about their plans. But what we also know from the research is that people who with the longer duration of stay in the destination country are likely to change their intentions. And with progressing integration into the society, they're more likely to stay for a longer time. But still, I think it is important to say that this whole uncertainty connected to the war, and the outcome of the war is affecting people a lot. So there, what we observe is that people who are aiming to return to Ukraine, they are albeit are more often in the labour markets, they are more likely to be employed, but they are less likely to invest into German language, which is, of course, not surprising if we're seeing that people just want probably to earn quickly money, and then leave the country and they don't see the benefit of investing into complicated and challenging German language. What else is important is those with less certain prospects of stay, they show more pronounced health issues, psychological health issues, they have fewer social contacts, particularly with the native population, with Germans, which is probably also can be explained in terms of this investment into social capital. Right, I think this is the most important messages regarding that certainty.
Izabela, anything to add?
The returns will be proportionate to the scale of damage of the country, to the scale of the destruction of the country. And what we can observe now their intentions for staying or intentions for going back. And what the latest survey shows is that 45% want to stay in Poland, while every third Ukrainian refugee wants to return as quickly as possible. This means that what is expected, yes? Is that the longer the conflict will be lasting, the more people will be building up their lives. And the more difficult it will be to return. But that doesn't mean that they wouldn't participate in rebuilding Ukraine, because we know the diaspora is a powerful entity, and they can do a lot even not returning. Some of them will postpone their returns, yes? Staying longer beyond the end of the war. Some of them will stay for good. So, I think at the end of the day, they will be normal migration processes also, circumstanced by the legal developments, yes, because now we have this temporary protection, but we don't know what countries will come up as a next step after this temporary protection. So, I think that a big part will stay, like half, maybe 40%. Some of them will come back, and some of them will come back to the normal business circulating between Ukraine and Poland and living here and there.
Do you feel the response to the current influx of Ukrainian refugees is different than other waves of refugees seeking safety? Yulia?
Yes, I would. Very short answer is yes. That in terms of response of European Union, but less maybe the response of Germany. So, refugees of 2015 and 2016 had more challenges in Germany in regard to the asylum procedure. So, they had this, they had to go through these lengthy asylum procedures which are consequential for later integration and participation patterns. They were distributed to the first place of residence and had to stay there even after recognition of their refugee status for additional three years. This also had negative consequences because they were over proportionally distributed to structurally poorer regions with less opportunities and this translated into later labour market risks and challenges. Many of them had also no direct access to the healthcare system. Because in Germany, each federal states can decide whether to give access immediately to the health care or after asylum stages is recognized. And you can imagine those who went through longer asylum procedures kind of had to face a lot of bureaucratic issues, to get support by the doctor. And so on and so on. But also probably, we can talk about this welcoming culture. I mean, it was very pronounced in both cases at the beginning, and by refugees 2015 and 2016, this positive, welcoming culture reduced over time. For Germany, what we observe, it is still there. So, just I think today, there was a new report by colleagues, which showed that support by Germans is still on a high level. So, there are barriers, and on the European level, if we're seeing, then I would say, for Ukrainian refugees, the response is much more positive and much more welcoming and much more open, at least it was at the beginning. What I think we should try to avoid is that we have now this double status, or bad or good refugees the in European Union and Germany. And because of structural barriers, refugees of 2015, and 2016, probably are less well integrated in a short run. But then many do not think about that and just, you know, say these are worse refugees. They are less well integrated and so on, but actually it is not because of people per se, but because of structural barriers.
Yes, so we need to acknowledge that that we have in the European Union double standards. That's, of course, not very fair. But knowing the situation which happened on the borders of the European Union, this brought these solutions and this reality we're in. Definitely in Poland, there are double standards practiced and we see it very clearly while juxtaposing the situation on the Ukrainian and Polish border with the situation on the Belarusian and Polish border. Where we know that Middle Easterners were brought there by the Lukashenko regime as a kind of sabotage to the European Union. But the Polish state did not offer any procedures, any tracks for asylum seeking. The situation is extremely different with access to the mainstream policies and benefits and solution to Ukrainian refugees. So, there is double standard in terms of treating refugees from different parts of the world. Which is, we have great testimonial for that, while comparing or juxtaposing the situation on the Ukrainian Polish border, where everyone is welcome to favours the benefits of the Polish state and with the Belarussian border where everyone is put on hold or even pushed back, and we are talking there about Middle Easterners who are brought by the Lukashenko regime to sabotage the European Union. But still, human lives at are at stake. So, there are double standards indeed.
Looking to the future, what do you see happening to these refugees?
I think it is very difficult to look into the future. In the best-case scenario, the war ends tomorrow, and people have the opportunities, those who want to come back have the opportunities to reunite with their families to go home to rebuild their country. With the ongoing conflict and ongoing damage, I wish people from my country to be well integrated be well welcomed, they are where they are to get the whole support, which they require. What I can imagine that in Germany, there will be a pronounced share of those who will stay forever. And given the current investment of the German state and current support oriented on longer term integration, I would forecast probably that the integration into the labour market and society will progress slowly, but it achieve a constant level, you will never have 100%, which it's never the case, but the biggest majority, they will find their place here.
There will be a kind of normalization of migration flows, migration processes. Because, as I said, some people will stay, roughly, maybe 40%, especially those who found their place in the labour market and the quality of their life is higher, and they can better utilize their human capital. Some of them will come back and some of them like before the war, 1 million Ukrainians already [were] in Poland. So, some people will circulate and live here and there. So, I think that we will come back to kind of business as usual, with giving opportunities people to choose where they can live their lives, the best for given circumstances. So I would say that, of course, the future is unknown, especially that we don't know when the war ends, but we know that there is no bigger wealth in the world than people so we should take care about them and to give them opportunities in our societies to make the best out of their presence, also to use their human capital, and to have their decent lives.
Thanks to Professor Izabela Grabowska and Professor Yulia Kosyakova for joining me today and thank you for listening. This is a CERC Migration and openDemocracy podcast produced in collaboration with Lead Podcasting. If you enjoyed the episode, subscribe to Borders & Belonging on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. For more information on Ukrainian refugees, please visit the show notes. I'm Maggie Perzyna. Thanks for listening!
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