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Czechia launches pilot project for voluntary return of Ukrainian refugees

by Martin Fornusek June 3, 2024 12:12 PM 2 min read
Illustrative purposes only: Two women hug each other after refugees from Ukraine arrive at the main train station on March 1, 2022, in Berlin, Germany. (Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images)
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The Czech government launched a pilot project to help Ukrainian refugees return home if they wish to do so, Radio Prague International reported on June 2.

Under this project, Ukrainians living in Czechia under temporary protection will receive compensation for bus or ambulance transport.

Over 4.2 million people who fled Ukraine due to Russia's war have been granted temporary protection by the EU as of spring, with over 360,000 of them living in Czechia.

Prague's initiative would be in effect from June until November and cover bus tickets for up to 400 people and ambulance transport for another 30.

The Czech government approved the project in mid-May as part of an effort to motivate Ukrainian refugees to return home.

Magda Faltova, the director of the Czech NGO Association for Integration and Migration, welcomed the initiative in a comment for Prague Radio but said that only a small fraction of refugees are likely to use it, namely those with limited funds or suffering health problems.

Surveys show that the number of Ukrainian refugees living in Czechia who wish to return home is dropping as the full-scale war continues. According to the People in Need NGO, the majority of the refugees found employment, and less than half of them considered going back to Ukraine as of February.

These numbers are in line with the situation in Germany and Poland, the two countries hosting the highest number of Ukrainian refugees.

This represents a growing challenge to Ukraine's demographic situation, as the country's population dropped from 41 million in 2021 to around 35 million in 2023, namely due to residents fleeing abroad.

Demographic disaster: Ukraine’s biggest post-war threat
The threat of a demographic crisis has been building in Ukraine for a while but Russia’s full-scale invasion has pushed it to the breaking point. The country had a population of 41 million in 2021, by the government’s reckoning. Now, it hovers around 35 million and experts warn
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