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New research published by Ukraine's Center for Economic Strategy (CES) revealed that the number of Ukrainian refugees living abroad due to the war increased by around 500,000 people during the first half of 2023.
At the end of June of this year, between 5.6 million and 6.7 million Ukrainians were living abroad as refugees. CES states that these numbers represent a 300,000 to 500,000 increase from the preliminary version of this report back in December 2022.
This increase can be attributed to attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure during the winter of 2022-23, intensified missile attacks in May 2023, and the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station in June 2023. The duration of Russia’s war also contributes to the rise in numbers.
The majority of refugees are women and children, and the largest proportions of Ukrainian refugees are based in Germany and Poland. A significant number of Ukrainians currently residing abroad (63%) plan to return to Ukraine, yet the conditions and timeframe for the return remain unclear.
The study estimates that as many as 3.3 million Ukrainians will remain abroad under various circumstances, significantly impacting the Ukrainian economy and resulting in a loss of 6.9% of GDP per year.
CES proposes a number of recommendations to incentivize refugees to return to Ukraine. Among these recommendations include cooperation with European countries, facilitating post-war reconstruction, increasing communication with Ukrainians abroad through diplomatic missions, and opening the EU labor market for Ukrainians after the war.