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Study: The Ukrainian war refugee in Estonia has the face of a young, healthy and highly educated woman

22.02.2023 | 16:09

Presented today, the study conducted by the University of Tartu’s Centre for Applied Social Sciences (CASS) and the think tank Praxis helps to map the needs of the Ukrainian war refugees who arrived in Estonia, how they cope and what their intentions to return to their homeland are.

Commenting on the results of the study, the Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo claimed: ‘We have received confirmation that we have been on the right track in assisting Ukrainian war refugees. While many countries have set up a separate parallel system for assisting Ukrainian war refugees, or have shifted the entire responsibility to local governments, in Estonia we have tried from the very beginning to integrate refugees quickly into Estonian society by providing them with the necessary information and assistance. This is also shown by the results of the study: the majority of war refugees know where to get information about healthcare and how to find a place for their children in school or kindergarten, or about working in Estonia. More than 80% of Ukrainian school-aged children attend school in Estonia and only 5% have mentioned lack of information as a reason for not being able to go to school. Ukrainians are also well informed about how to get healthcare or how to find a job.’ 
Summing up the study, the leader of the study group, Professor Raul Eamets, points out:  ‘An adult Ukrainian war refugee living in Estonia under temporary protection has the face of a young, well-educated woman.’ Of the war refugees who have arrived in Estonia, and more than half of them have higher education. Half of the adult war refugees who arrived in Estonia have underaged children. 
Ukrainian war refugees have been concentrated in cities, and approximately half of them live in Tallinn. This is not surprising, as more than half of the war refugees living in Estonia come from Ukraine’s major cities. 
Among the war refugees 68% live in apartments. State aid in terms of accommodation is crucial for war refugees when they arrive in Estonia, but if they find a job, almost all war refugees can pay for their own housing costs.
A job is essential for independent living. The head of the study Raul Eamets noted: ‘The results of the study show that the majority of war refugees can cope well in the Estonian labour market: 55% of adults have found a job. Although many of them do not have a professional job or a job corresponding to their level of education, most are satisfied with their job and are not looking for a new one.’ Information about the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund has reached war refugees: through the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund they are looking for work while receiving services and subsidies.
The majority of Ukrainian war refugees (63%) expect to be back in their home country in three years at the latest, while 25% of war refugees believe they are going to stay in Estonia after three years. Prof Raul Eamets: ‘As far as requests for return are concerned, it must be taken into account that one third of the war refugees who have arrived in Estonia come from areas where active hostilities are taking place, and one third come from the bordering areas. Nearly 8% of the refugees come from Mariupol and 7% from Kharkiv.’
The aim of the study was to identify the statistical profile of Ukrainian war refugees who have arrived in Estonia, and to map the issues related to education, the labour market, housing, health, social coping and intention to return, in order to provide the Estonian state authorities with important knowledge about the needs of war refugees, how to improve the provision of services to them and what they most lack. 
The executive summary of the study is available on the Praxis and CASS websites, and the occasional papers will be published on both sites next week.

The study was funded by the Estonian Research Council from the RITA programme.   

Riina Soobik

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