Integration or return for Ukrainian refugees? (NOR-RETIN)

Will I ever go home? Will they ever return?

These questions touch upon a core dilemma shared by refugees and policymakers alike in host countries.

Do Ukrainians fleeing the war have a short- or long-term perspective on their stay in host countries? And are policies in host states indicative of a short- or long-term integration perspective on their part? Are the perspectives of either integration in the host country or return to the home country mutually exclusive in practice? What are the consequences and outcomes – both for the individual and the host society – of different policies favoring one perspective over the other?

The dilemma

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine from February 2022 has resulted in the largest migration flow in Europe since World War II. The European (short-term) solution has been to provide Ukrainians fleeing the war with temporary collective protection to tackle the massive influx.

However, after the initial shock and as the war drags on, the dilemma of whether one should have a short- or long-term perspective on Ukrainian refugees’ stay in their host countries becomes impossible to ignore – both for policymakers and for Ukrainians themselves.

The project

In this project, we examine the dynamics between

  1. national integration and return policies
  2. the Ukrainian refugees’ experiences and aspirations
  3. actual return and integration outcomes for this group – and how these dynamics develop the initial years from 2022 to 2025

We explore this dilemma and dynamic interrelation through comparative and longitudinal analyses in four Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland) – combining qualitative and quantitative data and methods, including policy analyses, interviews with and surveys of Ukrainian refugees, and statistical analyses of Nordic register data.

We have issued two Policy Brief on this project:

  • Project participants

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  • External project participants

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