Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Triggers Largest European Migration Since WWII

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Triggers Largest European Migration Since WWII

APA/AFP/Wojtek Radwanski


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered one of the largest migration movements in Europe since World War II, according to a report released by the Austrian Academy of Sciences on Wednesday.

By mid-2023, 5.9 million people had fled Ukraine, with an additional 5.1 million displaced internally.

The latest edition of the biennial “European Demographic Data Sheet,” compiled by researchers from the Institute for Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the Vienna Wittgenstein Centre, the University of Vienna and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, predicts a further significant decline in Ukraine’s population by 2052. The most severe scenario suggests a 31 percent decrease.

“The war in Ukraine has triggered perhaps the largest migration flow in Europe since the expulsion of Germans from many countries after World War II,” remarked Tomáš Sobotka, deputy director of the ÖAW Institute for Demography.

The report states that the conflict, which began with Russia’s invasion in February 2022, has “dramatically accelerated” an already long-standing population decline since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.

According to the findings, the majority of Ukrainian refugees are women – mothers and grandmothers – often accompanied by children and adolescents. Men constitute only a quarter of adult refugees.

Germany (1.04 million) and Poland (976,000) have hosted the largest numbers of Ukrainian refugees, excluding the 1.3 million Ukrainians who sought refuge in Russia since the conflict’s onset. By mid-2023, significant numbers of Ukrainian refugees were also recorded in the Czech Republic (349,000), the UK (213,000), Spain (178,000), Italy (165,000), Bulgaria (161,000), Romania (133,000), and Austria (100,000).

In terms of proportion relative to their populations, Montenegro (6.8 percent), Moldova (4.3), and the Czech Republic (3.2), along with the Baltic states Estonia (2.8), Lithuania (2.4), and Latvia (2.3), have seen relatively high numbers of Ukrainian refugees. In Austria, Ukrainian refugees constitute 1.1 percent of the population.

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