“If you really want to stay, you will do whatever it takes.” Dialogue with refugees from Ukraine in the nordic countries
14 Jun 2023
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, gathers first-hand experiences and testimonies from Ukrainian refugees in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden in this report. It is based on group discussions between 90 refugees from Ukraine and UNHCR’s partners DRC Danish Refugee Council, Finnish Refugee Council and Svenska med Baby. It sheds light on refugees’ needs, priorities, concerns and challenges, while also uncovering similarities and differences between their experiences across the three countries, including with issues such as housing, labor market, and access to health care and financial assistance.
Using an empirical approach and a strong participatory focus in the group discussion, this report lends a voice to 90 refugees from Ukraine who took part in these discussions. The following summary points have been identified as the key priority areas and reflections by the refugees themselves.
» Access to learning the language of the host country should be prioritized because it is key to successful access to information, services and integration. At the same time, language learning needs to be effectively coordinated with job opportunities facilitated by employment centers.
» The level of financial assistance and daily allowance provided by host countries should be revised to better match the needs of refugees and the increasing costs of living. Being forced to choose which basic need to spend money on is cause for distress and may be counterproductive to language learning, integration and inclusion efforts.
» Allocation of accommodation and housing should take into account individual circumstances, specific needs and family size. The process should be made more transparent by authorities and municipalities. Living conditions at reception centers and temporary housing should be assessed for gaps and improved.
» Refugees want to work, attain a level of self-sufficiency, and contribute to society using their existing capacities as well as new skills that they are willing to learn. Host countries should facilitate a better and more accessible recognition of past academic qualifications and work experience to optimize integration into the society and the labour market.
» Psychosocial support remains a gap and should be given particular attention for both adults and children, including at school.
» Teachers and early childhood caregivers play a determinative role in the quality of education and well-being of children who have fled the war and experienced trauma. Schools and educators should receive adequate support to enhance their capacity to address the specific needs of displaced children, which are complex and require tailored intervention and solutions at school and at home, in collaboration with parents, guardians, caregivers and other support staff.