Findings of the recent survey by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) suggest that the needs of Ukrainian refugees are strikingly similar to other refugee groups in Greece despite their different legal status and reception standards.
66% of Ukrainian refugees surveyed are in need of financial assistance.
Food was mentioned as a pressing need by over a third of respondents. A staggering 26% of people admitted they do not have enough food at home for the next two weeks.
A quarter of respondents of Ukrainian refugees rely on their family and friends for financial support.
Similarly to other refugee groups, 50% of Ukrainians plan to remain in Greece this year.
Athens, Greece, 25 May 2023 — A recent IRC’s needs assessment conducted among almost 300 Ukrainian refugees in Greece found that more than two thirds of respondents have not been earning any money since they fled, leading to a quarter not having enough food to eat.
With many Ukrainians having been displaced due to the conflict, more than half have been unable to meet their basic needs, including buying food. According to UNHCR data, financial assistance (53%), employment and accommodation are among the top priorities sought after by all third country nationals in Greece, corresponding to the needs flagged by the Ukrainian refugees mapped by the IRC.
Despite the legal conditions put in place for Ukrainian nationals who have the right to live and work in Greece legally under the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive, the number of Ukrainians surveyed by IRC who need jobs is strikingly close to the statistics concerning other refugee groups. Among populations from countries including Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, DRC and Eritrea, 76% of people are struggling to find employment.
One of the main reasons Ukrainians in the neighbouring countries are left in a limbo are the questions related to their protection status and the future of the armed conflict back at home.
Alisa, a client supported by an IRC livelihoods project, told us:
“I think people are just not sure whether they want to stay here or to come back. This is the main question that relates to Ukrainians. And the second question is to what extent the status for Ukrainians will be extended.”
Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, IRC’s Greece Country Director, said,
“Often struggling to afford rent, facing high unemployment rates and learning a new language - the top challenges for all refugees in Greece constitute a shared experience regardless of people’s nationality or their country of origin. The impact on mental health and wellbeing cannot be overstated; more than half of Ukrainian refugees the IRC spoke to admit that they are struggling, while the same number has at least one vulnerable family member at home - an elderly person, a pregnant woman or a chronically ill patient.
“As the negotiations on the Pact on Migration and Asylum are moving ahead, the EU and its member states must do everything in their power to ensure that the unprecedented welcome provided to people fleeing Ukraine, both in legal and social terms, is replicated for all people seeking safety and protection in Europe.
“What people seeking protection in Greece need right now are long-term accommodation and integration schemes which will help them rebuild their lives and recover, empowering informed decisions about their future. This includes access to housing, jobs and education to support refugees in becoming self-reliant and facilitating their inclusion in the host communities.”
The IRC launched an emergency response in countries neighbouring Ukraine - Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria - to adequately support the most vulnerable refugees fleeing war. Working with partners, we are striving to ensure that people are safe from abuse and exploitation, that children can continue to safely learn, and that refugees have access to relevant information that enables them to make informed decisions about their next steps. We also run gender-based violence prevention and response activities, and provide mental health and psychological support. The IRC programmes targeting Ukrainian refugees are also active in Greece, Italy, Germany, UK and US.
About the needs assessment
- According to UNHCR, Greece is currently hosting some 22,000 refugees from Ukraine, mainly women and children.
- In January 2023, IRC Hellas developed a questionnaire intended to reach Ukrainian refugees living in Greece in order to better understand their needs and inform its programming. by IRC Hellas’s Ukrainian-speaking programme assistant and online, using the contact details of people that had benefited from the voucher distribution of IRC Hellas to vulnerable Ukrainian families during the period August 2022-January 2023. In total, 276 questionnaires were collected during the period between 10 January-14 February 2023.
- The majority of respondents were female, median age is 38 years. The big majority of respondents (74%) have completed tertiary education (university level or higher). 49% of respondents live in households of 1-2 members, while 37% of respondents do not have children in the household. Respondents live predominantly in Athens and the greater Attica area while a small percentage lives in Thessaloniki and other smaller cities.
- Among the people surveyed, 138 (50%) are planning to remain in Greece, similarly to third-country nationals, 80 (29%) are not sure/do not want to say and 46 (17%) want to return to their Country of Origin. Some 10 (4%) are planning to move onwards to EU member states.
- Alisa, the client quoted, attended the CITI Foundation funded IRC livelihood program, Craft Your Business (CYB), to build her home staging business. The CYB programme includes entrepreneurship skills training, business development coaching, opportunities to apply for start-up grants, and access to networks, financial resources, and microfinance opportunities. In addition, the IRC has distributed a total 22,955 vouchers of €10 to 1,792 households comprising 4,241 persons (out of whom 1,514 were children) to date.