War against Ukraine anniversary: Just one in ten displaced Ukrainians likely to return home soon

The United Nations refugee arm has warned just 12 per cent of Ukrainians displaced from their homes due to the Russian invasion say they are likely to return soon as the conflict enters its second year, amid continued hostilities, insecurity and destruction in areas of the country.

The report comes as both the Scottish and UK governments pledged increased humanitarian support for Ukraine as the country marks a year since Russia launched a full-scale invasion.

Russian president Vladimir Putin pledged to "de-militarise and de-Nazify" Ukraine on February 24 last year, in a move widely regarded as punishment for Kyiv's pivot to the West.

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UNHCR said 77 per cent of Ukrainian refugees living abroad and 79 per cent of those displaced within Ukraine state they want to return home one day. However, only 12 per cent plan to do so in the next three months.

Ukrainian bystanders look on to residential buildings that were destroyed during an attack, in Borodyanka on Wednesday.Ukrainian bystanders look on to residential buildings that were destroyed during an attack, in Borodyanka on Wednesday.
Ukrainian bystanders look on to residential buildings that were destroyed during an attack, in Borodyanka on Wednesday.

The main impediments preventing refugees from returning are safety and security concerns in their areas of origin, the report found. Other concerns cited are about access to and availability of basic services, including electricity, water and healthcare, work opportunities and adequate housing, all of which have been hugely impacted by the war.

Among the internally displaced, access to adequate housing is the second main barrier to sustainable and dignified return, after security and safety considerations.

Refugees who said they were likely to return in the next three months were mainly older, those separated from family still in Ukraine, or those facing inclusion challenges in host countries. The survey found 18 per cent of refugees are still undecided as to whether to return.

“We cannot think about the future or how the situation in Ukraine is, and for how long it will be like that – we can only think about the present,” said on Ukrainian participant.

Last week, UNHCR launched its Ukraine Situation Supplementary Appeal, outlining the response plan and financial requirements for 2023. The total needs amount to $1.1 billion (£900bn) – $602.5 million inside Ukraine and $517m in refugee host countries in Europe.

The Scottish Government, which has already provided £4m in financial aid to Ukraine, said a further £1m would be provided to charities working on the ground in the country.

The funding, which will be allocated between the British Red Cross, Christian Aid and Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, will enable the organisations to provide generators, heaters and blankets to families and essential facilities such as hospitals and shelters. It will also support home repairs for households and communities in Ukraine, which will help prevent homelessness.

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Meanwhile, UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and other G7 finance ministers and Central Bank governors committed to continued financial support for the Ukrainian government this year to a total of US$39bn at their latest meeting in Bengaluru, India.

The G7 finance ministers and Central Bank governors met and were joined by Ukrainian finance minister Sergii Marchenko, where they jointly condemned Russia’s war of aggression.

Announcing the new funding during a debate marking one year of the war in Ukraine, refugees minister Neil Gray said: “The organisations we have allocated this further funding to today are key in providing much needed humanitarian aid and support to the people of Ukraine. Over the last year, we have provided financial aid to help provide basic humanitarian assistance, including in health, water and sanitation, and shelter for those fleeing Ukraine, as well as medical supplies and funding to support the clear-up operation in Ukraine.

“It will also ensure that the most vulnerable people across Ukraine are living in warm and safe accommodation and that essential facilities will be able to continue working to protect the people they serve. it will also enable families to begin to restore their homes and livelihoods following a challenging winter – helping them to repair damage and improve the food and water supply.”

He added: “I’m proud that Scotland has been able to play its part in supporting Ukraine and I want to reiterate our continued support for Ukraine and those who have been displaced.”

Mr Hunt said: “We heard first-hand from Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko how additional funding is helping protect the lives of ordinary Ukrainians. This really hammers home the importance of the UK and our allies continuing to back Ukraine in its fight against Putin’s illegal invasion.

“This additional support will save lives in Ukraine, help the government carry out critical repairs of damaged infrastructure, deliver basic services like healthcare and stabilise the economy.”



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