Twenty months after the onset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a military stalemate has emerged. This current situation suggests that neither Russia will be able to capture further Ukrainian territory, nor will Ukraine be able to reclaim large parts of the occupied regions in the near future. However, as witnessed in the spring and autumn of 2022, when the Ukrainian armed forces drove back Russian invaders, surprises cannot be ruled out.
As of January 2024, 6.5 million Ukrainians seek shelter abroad, with 4.2 million in the EU (possibly fewer) and around 5 million remaining internally displaced, totalling 10.5 million. Within Ukraine, 17.6 million people require humanitarian assistance, even though the economy is slowly recovering. The overall situation for Ukrainians, both within and outside the country, is characterised by a protracted war and great uncertainty regarding the war’s outcome, their legal status in host countries and integration prospects.
Various surveys indicate that less than half of the displaced Ukrainians in Europe are considering staying in the host countries in the foreseeable future, whereas another third contemplates a return. The remaining fifth, the trend decreasing, is still undecided. However, migration intentions are notoriously dynamic and predictions are unreliable. Nevertheless, it is clear that a large proportion – up to 2.3 million who could be joined by 460,000 family members bringing the total to 2.76 million – is unlikely to aspire to return any time soon.
This policy brief considers the displacement and forced migration inside and outside Ukraine’s international border, the dynamics of these movements, the individuals’ aspirations and the possible future developments in migration trends while reassessing scenarios developed in 2022.
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