As of January 3, the UNHCR had records of about eight million Ukrainian refugees living in Europe, of whom nearly five million had applied for temporary protection plans.
The nation’s long-term stability is at risk because of the hollowed-out Ukrainian state, which will further amplify economic, demographic, and military power disparities with its belligerent Russian neighbor.
FORMING A PATH AHEADCreate a reconstruction strategy for Ukraine that considers refugees immediately, say policymakers and advocates.
Plan for a gradual return of refugees from other countries to ease local reintegration and lessen the burden on public services, prioritising those who can reunite with their families.
Concrete answers are needed for whether and how refugees will return to Ukraine after the war.
As the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine approaches, plans for restoration have come into focus. However, one crucial component seems to be missing from various policy briefs, commentary, and political summits: the role of refugees. With almost 8 million individuals having fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, it is imperative to address the impact of the reconstruction dispute on these refugees. Incorporating them into the reconstruction plans will play a vital role in the successful recovery of Ukraine. Additionally, the 6.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ukraine also require a clear plan for their future. Guaranteeing their safety and considering their contribution to recovery efforts is essential for Ukraine’s restoration. In this article, we will explore the importance of including refugees in Ukraine’s rehabilitation and discuss the reconstruction debate in relation to their needs.
The Importance of Refugees in Ukraine’s Recovery
1. Refugees as Human Capital
The millions of displaced people in Ukraine possess significant human capital that can contribute to the country’s recovery. Their skills, expertise, and experiences can be invaluable in the physical repair of Ukrainian infrastructure and the reform of governance institutions and processes. By incorporating refugees into the reconstruction plans, Ukraine can tap into this resource and accelerate the rebuilding efforts.
2. Addressing Ukraine’s Declining Population
Prior to the conflict, Ukraine was already experiencing population decline as a result of ageing, emigration, and low birth rates. The return of Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children who made up around one-fifth of the country’s pre-war population, will have a big impact on the populace, national security, and geopolitical weight of the nation. Ukraine may address its population decline and improve its standing internationally by incorporating refugees into its rehabilitation efforts.
The Reconstruction Debate and Refugees
Participants in the “Standing with the Ukrainian People” summit, which the governments of France and Ukraine co-hosted in December, pledged more than one billion euros in new funding to address urgent needs during the winter. The focus of discussions in the policy community has shifted towards developing strategies for Ukrainian resilience and long-term reconstruction. Given the predicted duration of the war, which may last for months or even years, it is crucial to prioritise essential aspects such as military assistance, access to basic necessities like food and water, and the protection of civil society.
The Need for a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine
Ukraine is currently facing a severe economic crisis, with projections of a 35% GDP decline and an increase in poverty to 60% by 2022. To aid reconstruction and foster long-term recovery, many have advocated for the creation of a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine. This plan would involve organising and coordinating financial aid, emphasising effective oversight to prevent corruption, and building reliable institutions that will strengthen Ukraine’s democratic reputation and potentially lead to EU membership. By incorporating refugees into this plan, Ukraine can ensure that their needs are met and their contributions are valued.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. What is the role of refugees in Ukraine’s rehabilitation?
Refugees have a crucial role to play in Ukraine’s recovery. Their skills, expertise, and experiences can contribute to the physical repair of infrastructure and the reform of governance institutions and processes.
2. Why is it important to include refugees in reconstruction plans?
Including refugees in reconstruction plans ensures that their needs are met, taps into their valuable human capital, and accelerates the rebuilding efforts in Ukraine.
3. How can refugees contribute to Ukraine’s recovery?
Refugees can contribute to Ukraine’s recovery in various ways. They possess diverse skills and expertise that can be utilised in the reconstruction process, such as in construction, engineering, healthcare, education, and entrepreneurship. By incorporating them into the labour force and providing them with opportunities to apply their knowledge, Ukraine can benefit from their contributions and accelerate rehabilitation efforts.
4. What are the benefits of repatriating Ukrainian refugees?
Repatriating Ukrainian refugees has several benefits. Firstly, it can address the declining population issue that Ukraine was already facing before the war. Secondly, it allows the returnees to reunite with their families and rebuild their lives in their home country. Thirdly, repatriated refugees can contribute to Ukraine’s economic development, social cohesion, and overall stability.
5. How can Ukraine ensure the safety and well-being of refugees during the reconstruction phase?
During the reconstruction phase, it is crucial to ensure the security and wellbeing of refugees. The provision of safe and stable housing, access to commodities, medical treatment, and educational opportunities for refugee populations should be Ukraine’s top priorities. To secure their rights and stop any discrimination or marginalisation, it is also critical to build legislative frameworks and protective procedures.
6. What are the challenges in incorporating refugees into reconstruction plans?
It can be difficult to include refugees in reconstruction efforts. These include ensuring that integration efforts are properly coordinated, overcoming language difficulties, recognising and certifying the abilities and qualifications of refugees, and resolving any potential social tensions or disputes. It necessitates a thorough strategy that incorporates cooperation between foreign partners, civil society organisations, and government agencies.
7. How can the international community support Ukraine in including refugees in the rehabilitation process?
Through financial aid, technical expertise, and capacity building, the international community can assist Ukraine in engaging refugees in the rehabilitation process. International organisations and donor countries can help refugees integrate by supporting vocational training programmes, facilitating job placements, and establishing support networks. Furthermore, sharing best practises and lessons learned from other post-conflict scenarios can be beneficial.
In order to secure their safety, well-being, and active engagement in the country’s recovery, Ukraine’s rehabilitation efforts must prioritise the integration of refugees. Ukraine can hasten the rebuilding process by recognising the valuable human capital that migrants bring and incorporating it into restoration plans. Repatriating Ukrainian refugees can also help address the country’s falling population while also contributing to its long-term stability and growth. The international community must encourage and assist Ukraine in engaging refugees in the rehabilitation process, enabling a complete and long-term recovery for all.