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Vyshlinsky: Millions of people are out of Ukraine and nobody knows the exact figure

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 min

In a recent interview on English-language podcast «Ukraine Calling» on Hromadske Radio, Brian Bonner spoke with Hlib Vyshlinsky, the executive director of the Centre for Economic Strategy. He provided valuable insights into the ongoing refugee situation stemming from the war in Ukraine.

Vyshlinsky emphasized the necessity of closely monitoring the refugee crisis, highlighting its economic implications. He noted that when the full-scale invasion began, millions of Ukrainians fled the country, prompting the need for a comprehensive understanding of the situation. Recognizing the lack of accurate data from United Nations organizations, Vyshlinsky’s team undertook extensive surveys to gauge the intentions and circumstances of Ukrainian refugees.

«The United Nations organizations in charge of putting together these figures were not good enough. The figures were very different, from four million to eight million. Also, there were no representative surveys of refugees, like some countries organized in Poland and Germany. Some agencies surveyed refugees at border crossings. However, there was no representative survey», – he noted

Their methodology involved leveraging technology, particularly the widespread use of Ukrainian mobile numbers among refugees. By partnering with mobile operators and employing random sampling techniques, they conducted surveys across multiple waves, with the latest round completed in December 2023 and January 2024. This approach allowed them to gather valuable insights into refugee intentions and their potential impact on the economy.

«Together with the Ukrainian mobile operators, Kyivstar and Vodafone, we just sent random invitations to subscribers of these mobile networks whose phones were registered abroad. We put quotas by country, by the number of SIM cards that each country shows. And then you understand how it works. It comes as SMS, but on a modern smartphone, it is very easy: just click on the link and then go to the online survey«.

Vyshlinsky highlighted several key findings from their research. Firstly, they estimated that approximately 4.9 million Ukrainians had fled to other countries due to the war, with the majority residing in democratic nations. This figure contrasted with earlier estimates, indicating a need for more accurate data collection methods. Additionally, they observed a decline in the proportion of children among refugees, suggesting that some families had returned to Ukraine while others had been replaced by adult migrants seeking economic opportunities abroad.

Despite the varied demographics of Ukrainian refugees, Vyshlinsky emphasized the significant proportion who originated from areas directly affected by hostilities or occupation. This segment faced unique challenges in returning to Ukraine, particularly older individuals with established lives and assets. However, with the right support from international partners and government policies, Vyshlinsky expressed optimism about facilitating their return.

Overall, Vyshlinsky’s research sheds light on the complexities of the Ukrainian refugee crisis and underscores the importance of targeted interventions to address the diverse needs of displaced individuals. A nuanced understanding of the refugee situation will be crucial for guiding policy decisions and fostering sustainable solutions.

The full interview with Hlib Vyshlinsky provides further details on their research findings and recommendations for addressing the ongoing refugee crisis.


Read it here: Ukraine: A Nation Divided. Uncertain future of Ukrainian refugees

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