Education from Syria and beyond

As many as 15 million Ukrainians fled their homes in May 2022, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide exceeding 100 million for the first time. It is the equivalent of the 14th largest country in the world, with 53 percent internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 47 percent refugees fleeing their country. Earlier, there were 41.1 million refugees in 2010, 71 million in 2018 (led by the 2012-2015 Syrian war coup), and 89 million in 2021, due to the conflict in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia. , And causing waves elsewhere (Table 1).

Table 1. Worldwide Forced Displacement by Year *

Years Forcibly displaced people
June (2022) 100,000,000
2021 89,000,000
2020 82,400,000
2019 79,500,000
2018 70,800,000
2017 68,500,000
2016 65,500,000
2015 65,100,000
2014 59,200,000
2013 51,200,000
2012 42,700,000
2011 38,500,000
2010 41,100,000

Source: UNHCR.

Among the forcibly displaced Ukrainians, about 8 million IDPs and 7 million refugees, this is the fastest and largest single increase in the number of forcibly displaced populations since World War II. There are about 2.2 million returnees, of which civilians have returned to cities like Kiev and Kharkiv as men return to the war and an end to violence is not possible any time soon.

Poland had the largest number of Ukrainian refugees (3.7 million), of whom a few thousand have moved further west and another 1.5 million who have since returned to the country. As of June 2022, there were more than one million refugees in Russia, 700,000 in Hungary, 600,000 in Romania (283,000 returnees), and about 500,000 each in Moldova (110,000 returnees) and in Slovakia (196,000). According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), excluding these neighboring countries, the top three Ukrainian refugee hosts are Germany (780,000), the Czech Republic (366,000) and Turkey (145,000).

The hospitality and resources provided for Ukrainian refugees is unprecedented. Under the EU’s temporary protection guidelines, Ukrainians have the right to work and access health, education, housing and other services for up to three years. Before the war, Ukrainians could enter the EU without a visa for up to three months, with one million working legally and others working informally. This diaspora was important in absorbing Ukrainian refugees.

This is in stark contrast to the way non-European refugees from Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Ukraine have faced asylum seekers. Poland is blocking non-European immigrants from Belarus from entering the country to welcome Ukrainians. Britain is trying to send non-European asylum seekers to Rwanda to process applications, and Denmark is likely to follow suit.

This “complete-EU” approach to the Ukrainian refugee crisis contrasts with the 2015 influx of refugees, which persuaded many EU members to close their borders to refugees. Nonetheless, alumni include useful lessons although they are unlikely to be extended to non-Europeans anytime soon. Although each instance of refugee flow is unique, some broad lessons emerge. For example, we know that refugees are displaced for a long period of time between the ages of 10 and 26. Margaritas Shinas, vice-president of the European Commission, estimates that up to 3 million Ukrainians will remain in Europe, a boon for a continent facing demographic decline.

But over time, that is likely to change. In Turkey, 72 percent of support for Syrian refugees in 2016 turned into more than 80 percent support for their repatriation – mainly due to the economic downturn. Lebanon, already wary of most Sunni Syrians in a country with a confessional political balance, has put pressure on refugees since the economy slowed in 2014. Russia’s war against Ukraine has disrupted life there, but concerns remain in Poland over pre-war anti-war sentiment. Ukrainian hostility (Polish human rights ombudsman recorded 44,000 anti-Ukrainian hate crimes in southern Poland in 2017). Although a small minority, extremists can play a big role over time. Turkey’s “Victory Party”, with less than 2 percent of the vote, can still dominate the news cycle, mimicking flashy videos and imitating the European right-wing replacement theory that Syrians – about 3 percent of the population – are slowly taking over the country. When 200,000 Hungarians fled the Soviet invasion of Austria in 1956, the initial reception was soon disrupted, and Austria asked others to accept more than 90 percent of the refugees.

The Center for Global Development estimates that the cost of hosting Ukrainian refugees in the first year is $ 30 billion. While Warsaw’s population has grown by 15 percent, services such as rental housing have grown by 40 percent. Other cities have seen sharp population growth, such as Krakow (23 percent) and Gdansk (34 percent). More critically, with around 600,000 refugee Polish families, this is an unbearable situation in the long run, even with stipends for hosting families, especially in a country with a saturated rental market. Fault lines can also develop within the refugee community and back home which could exacerbate their situation.

Also, 72 percent of Syrian refugees are women and children, compared to 90 percent for Ukrainian refugees. To protect the nation, men between the ages of 18-60 are prohibited from leaving Ukraine, thus making women and children refugees, an already vulnerable population, even more at risk. From trafficking to child care for working women, educational challenges for children, arrangements need to be made to support and sustain women and children. Long-term separation for the family indicates more challenges.

Gender is also important for others. In 2015-16, more than one million Syrian asylum seekers traveled to Europe, 72 percent were men and 43 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34. Without reason, male refugees were seen as more threatening, prone to crime or radicalization. . Many were considered to have come from non-conflict countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and were later portrayed as opportunists reluctant to fight for their country. All of these speculations feed on disturbing Nativist narratives.

We also know that host communities প্রায় often more vulnerable in society and lacking adequate access to good jobs, housing, and other services গুরুত্বপূর্ণ are important. This will reduce potential annoyance and help prevent misrepresentation of preferential treatment. Effective policies are needed for integration, starting with employment benefits and support for school education, health, education, housing, and host language learning. The EU is in a relatively good position to help here, less so for other refugee host communities.

The longer the conflict lasts, especially as the refugee crisis escalates, the harder it will be for refugees to return. The World Bank’s Aaron Wonder, in a detailed study of Syrian refugees and the dynamics of their return, noted that better conditions in the countries of origin almost always encourage the return of refugees as conflicts decrease and human and property rights improve. Importantly, hostile conditions in host countries do not automatically increase repatriation. However, as the Syrian experience suggests, improved conditions in the host countries may also lead to higher returns as significant return costs become more affordable. The dynamics of the return of Ukrainian refugees will be affected by the large number of isolated nuclear families and measures to facilitate reunification.

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