Ukrainian Refugees and their Journeys Home
IOM Hungary's Newest Data on the Ukraine Refugee Crisis from the Field: April-June 2023
Budapest, 9 August 2023 – According to IOM Hungary’s most recent Crossing to Ukraine: Surveys with Refugees on Destinations, Length of Stay & Assistance Report for Quarter 2 survey data, Ukrainian refugees re-entering Ukraine, either for short-term or long-term stays, are particularly in need of transportation, information, financial support and personal safety.
As of July 2023, more than 5.2 million people have been internally displaced in Ukraine due to the Russian war in Ukraine,1 and a further 6.2 million have fled to safety across international borders such as Hungary’s.2 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) carries out regular surveys with displaced persons that fled the war in Ukraine and are now crossing back. IOM conducts this field research in order to better understand the current trends, and based on this information, know how to best respond to the changing needs of its beneficiaries. IOM Hungary’s newest Crossing to Ukraine highlights the following key findings from those interviewed as they make their way back to Ukraine from or through Hungary:
• Top 3 countries of temporary stay abroad: Hungary (54%), Germany (12%), Austria (5%);
• Top needs upon crossing back to Ukraine*: transportation support (52%), general information (43%), financial support (39%);
• Top areas of assistance received*: transport (52%), accommodation (39%), financial support (36%); and
• Intentions upon crossing back: short-term visit (66%), long-term stay (30%), do not know (4%).
*more than one answer possible
The surveyed displaced people from Ukraine continue to indicate that they are mostly crossing back only for a brief stay. The top three countries of temporary stay abroad remain relatively unchanged from Q1. However, a change has been noted in the top needs upon crossing back into Ukraine; where significantly more people now voice a need for general information (from 28% to 43%) and financial support (25% to 39%). In terms of the types of assistance received, accommodation has replaced food supplies near the top of the list.
The research carried out between 1 April-30 June 2023, two-thirds of which happened at the border train station in Záhony upon departure to Ukraine, revealed that just 30% of the interviewees intended on staying in Ukraine upon return, while 66% of the refugees from Ukraine interviewed were planning to stay in Ukraine for only a short visit.
The reasons listed by the interviewees intending to return to Ukraine for the long-term varied
between Q1 and Q2. While between January-March 2023 the most frequently stated reason was to reunite with family (53%), this reason was only mentioned by 35% of respondents between April-June 2023. In Q2 most respondents cited missing home (40%) and the improved situation in their region (35%) as a reason for staying in Ukraine in the long-term.
The reasons for which the surveyed UA nationals are returning to Ukraine for a short-term visit changed between the two data collection periods. While most respondents continued to return in order to visit their families in Ukraine (67% in Q1 and 69% in Q2), the share of those returning and seeking health care services in Ukraine has increased from 16% in Q1 to 41% in Q2.
"As Head of IOM Hungary, witnessing the ongoing challenges faced by Ukrainian refugees on their journeys home is both humbling and motivating. The quarterly Crossing to Ukraine Reports sheds light on the complex and dynamic situation at the borders, as Ukrainians navigate their return for short- or long-term stays. These reports offer invaluable insights into the evolving needs of displaced individuals, enabling us to tailor our assistance effectively. IOM remains committed to supporting and protecting the vulnerable and ensuring their reintegration into their communities in Ukraine." - Dániel Bagaméri, Head of Office, IOM Hungary
The most immediate need upon return cited by the surveyed UA nationals was the need for transportation support (52%). Following this, most people reported the need for general information (43%) and financial support (39%). This was followed by the need for ensuring personal safety (27%) and accessing health services (27%). Twenty-three per cent of respondents mentioned the need for food assistance and another 22 per cent cited long-term accommodation as one of their most pressing needs upon return. To a lesser extent, employment (17%), medicines (15%) and legal assistance (13%) also appeared on the list of respondents as their most imminent needs when returning to Ukraine either for a short- or a long-term stay.
Assistance received in Hungary
More than half of the respondents (52%) confirmed having received transportation support while in Hungary. Another 39% received support with accommodation and 36% provided with financial support, followed by 32% of respondents who benefitted from food assistance. To a lesser extent, personal hygiene items (15%) and clothes (14%) were also present in the list of services received during their time in Hungary. Fewer people declared having received psychological counselling (8%), vouchers (7%) and toys (5%) while in Hungary.
IOM Hungary Offers Viable Solutions
Based on the findings of the quarterly Crossing to Ukraine: Surveys with Refugees on Destinations, Length of Stay & Assistance Reports, IOM continuously identifies the changing needs of the beneficiary populations and adapts its programs to help alleviate some of the most difficult obstacles for both short- and long-term returnees. Since the beginning of the war, thousands of people in Hungary have received direct assistance from IOM, including food, non-food and hygiene items, vouchers, mental health and psychosocial support, and have received timely information to help prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation and abuse.
Refugees returning home to Ukraine are met at the Záhony train station by our IOM Hungary field teams on the Hungarian side of the border to help translate, answer questions and distribute information in Ukrainian, Hungarian, English and Russian. In vulnerable cases, in coordination with IOM Ukraine, information can be provided about services available in Ukraine.
The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) is a system used to track and monitor displacement and population mobility. Survey forms are utilized to capture data about the main displacement patterns for refugees of any nationality fleeing from Ukraine because of the war. The surveys are conducted in person. The demographic profiles of respondents, and if any, the group they are travelling with, are noted with an emphasis on their intentions relative to the intended final destination; prospects for permanent residence in the country of the survey/first reception; and their most pressing needs at the moment of the interview.
This report is based on surveys collected among Ukrainian nationals in Hungary between 1 April and 30 June 2023 in Budapest and in Záhony (Szabolcs Szatmár Bereg County) at various sites, including transit points (e g train and bus stations) and IOM premises.
The expansion of IOM’s DTM activities in the region was made possible with financial support from the U.S Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Japan, the Government of France and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.
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Media and Communications Coordinator
International Organization for Migration Country Office for Hungary
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IOM has been providing emergency response, transition and recovery support to affected populations in Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict in 2014. Since February 2022, IOM Hungary has assisted over 25,000 vulnerable, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and people in need from Ukraine through its conflict-response in Hungary. The regular DTMs assist us in gauging what the most urgent and differing needs are for the very diverse groups of displaced persons – ethnic Hungarians, Ukrainians, Third Country Nationals, Roma... and enables us to adapt and respond effectively. IOM calls for support for its Crisis Response Plan to support meeting time-critical humanitarian needs and allow for the reprioritization of response activities.
Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM is amongst the largest humanitarian actors in the world, and one of the few international organizations directly implementing programs across the humanitarian, development and peace nexus providing comprehensive, holistic and inclusive responses throughout all phases of crises. IOM is committed to saving lives and helping populations move out of harm’s way. We protect and assist those displaced or stranded by crisis, and support populations and their communities to recover. We work to mitigate adverse drivers that force people from their homes, help build resilience and focus on reducing disaster risk so that movement and migration can be a choice.
IOM supports migrants across the world, developing effective responses to the shifting dynamics of migration and, as such, is a key source of advice on migration policy and practice. The organization works in emergency situations, developing the resilience of all people on the move, and particularly those in situations of vulnerability, as well as building capacity within governments to manage all forms and impacts of mobility. The Organization is guided by the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including upholding human rights for all. Respect for the rights, dignity and well-being of migrants remains paramount.
1 According to January 2023 data extracted from: Ukraine — Internal Displacement Report — General Population Survey Round 12 (16 - 23 January 2023) | Displacement Tracking Matrix (iom.int)
2 According to July 2023 data extracted from: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine