Ukrainian Migrations – Past Trends and Current Challenges

2022 March 09

MMO Zoom Seminar

The Russian aggression on Ukraine has led to the largest forced migration flows in Europe since WWII. The war causes humanitarian catastrophe and refugee crisis, as millions of people search for safety outside of Ukraine. The UNHCR estimates that during the first nine days over 1,5 million people fled Ukraine, and the number may quickly increase to 4 million if the war continues. Most refugees went to the neighbouring countries and the majority, over 57%, crossed the border with Poland. While the war has disrupted previous patterns of migration from Ukraine and it is hard to predict how the situation will unfold, it is important to discuss the migration crisis from both current and past perspectives.

In the first part of the seminar, the key findings from the FUME project case study will be briefly presented. The case study was carried out in 2021 among internal migrants who had come to Kyiv during the last 15 years. The aim of the research was to explore the pre-war modalities of Ukrainian migrations and the complexity of interrelations between historical, economic, cultural, social and demographic factors in the migration decision-making. Although work and education used to be the main motives of migration, political factors have played a role since 2014 and the Russian annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas region. Social networks turned out to be crucial in shaping both internal and international paths of migration. In the current crisis, the presence of the Ukrainian diaspora in many European and non-European countries (estimated globally by UNHCR at 6,1 million) will surely play a significant role in the migration decision-making, and in the refugee destination settlements, in particular.

The second and major part of the seminar will be devoted to a discussion of the current situation of refugees from Ukraine in Poland. The perspective of the cities of Krakow and Warsaw will be also explored to show local efforts to help refugees and to discuss emerging challenges. Some of the questions that will be addressed by the panellist are:

  • What are the key factors shaping the current migration flows from Ukraine?

  • What do we know about the current migrations from Ukraine and what is unknown?

  • How specific is the Ukrainian migration from the gender perspective?

  • How many of the refugees who came to Poland will stay in the country and which factors will shape these decision-making processes in the short, medium and long term perspectives?

  • What are the pros and cons of the assistance framework in Poland?

  • How the refugees are being assisted while arriving in Polish cities (cases of Krakow and Warsaw)?

  • What mistakes made in other cases of refugee crisis management should be avoided?

  • What are the best practices in managing so large forced migration flows?

Recording of the seminar


Oleg Yarosh - PhD in Philosophical Anthropology at the Institute of Philosophy in Kyiv. From 2006 till the present time he is heading the History of Oriental Philosophy Department in the same Institute. Since 2017 he has been appointed honorary research associate at Asia Center in the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. His major research subject is Islam and Muslims in Europe with a special focus on Western Sufism. He is also interested in Anthropology of Religion and Comparative Philosophy.

Konrad Pędziwiatr - Inspirator and coordinator of the Multiculturalism & Migration Observatory. Researcher at the Centre of the Advanced Studies on Population and Religion (CASPAR). Associate professor at the Department of International Relations (Cracow University of Economics) and associated researcher in the Centre of Migration Research (University of Warsaw) specializing in the sociology of Islam, religious dimensions of migration studies and social movements in Europe and the Middle East. Author of numerous publications on Islam and migration.

Dobrosława Wiktor-Mach - Researcher at the Center of the Advanced Studies on Population and Religion (CASPAR), coordinator of the Multiculturalism & Migration Observatory, assistant professor at the Department of International Relations at CUE. Member of the Committee of Sociology of Migration of the Polish Sociological Association. Research interests: social change and social movements in the Middle East, sociology of Islam, international migrations, socio-cultural integration of migrants.

Karolina Sobczak-Szelc - Assistant Professor at and the Centre of Migration Research, University of Warsaw and the Centre for Advanced Studies of Population and Religion (CASPAR), Cracow University of Economics. She combines earth science, social geography, spatial development, and sociology to study forced migrations both in countries of origin and destination. Currently, she is Principal Investigator in the project ARICA — A multi-directional analysis of refugee/IDP camp areas based on HR/VHR satellite data (2020-2023) financed by the National Centre for Research and Development and a key staff member in the project FUME – Future Migration Scenarios for Europe (2020–2022), financed by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme.

Patrycja Trzeszczyńska - Anthropologist and specialist on Ukrainian studies, works at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of Jagiellonian University. Author of publications on anthropological research on diaspora, memory and migration. Interested in migration and diaspora, memory, ethnic minorities, diaspora-making processes in Central and East Europe. Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland scholarship holder, a research fellow at University of Toronto (2014, 2015) and University of Alberta (2014, 2016).

Karolina Czerska-Shaw - PhD in the field of sociology at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (2016). Her research interests include integration strategies at the local level and theoretical notions of multicultural vs interculturality and their reflection in politics and political/public discourses; transnationality and the effects of super-mobility among young people; migration and asylum policies within the EU.

Olena Babakova - Freelance journalist specializing in Polish-Ukrainian relations, historical memory policy, and EU visa and migration policy. She is an alumna of Taras Shevchenko National University (Kyiv, 2008) and the Graduate School for Social Research (Warsaw, 2012). She holds a PhD in history from Bialystok University for a study on early modern Ukrainian elites in I Rzeczpospolita identity. Currently, she works as a project coordinator of the WOT Foundation (Warsaw).

Inga Hajdarowicz - Finished Sustainable Urban Governance and Peace at the University for Peace in Costa Rica and Sociology at the Jagiellonian University. In recent years, she has been involved in urban movements, looking for effective tools to include citizens in decision-making processes, such as participatory budgeting. She is currently working on her PhD on participatory and democratic grassroots initiatives of Syrian refugee women in Lebanon.

Dominik Wach –Political analyst who specialises in migration, integration and Middle Eastern affairs, for over 10 years professionally involved in the integration of refugees. Coordinator on behalf of the Warsaw Family Support Centre of the “Warsaw pilot project of the integration of foreigners with consideration of the needs of the labour market”. Former human rights observer in the West Bank (oPt) and humanitarian worker in Jordan. He was working on the project „IMINTEG – in search for models of relations between immigration and integration policies”. Currently involved in projects: „ARICA – A multi-directional analysis of refugee/IDP camp areas based on HR/VHR satellite data” and „Foreigners – Varsovians. Diagnosis and recommendations of integration activities”.

FUME Case studies

The seminar is organized by ↗ the Multiculturalism & Migration Observatory at the University of Cracow in the framework of the Horizon2020 project “FUME - Future migration scenarios for Europe”. This seminar is a part of a series presenting the push factors of migration from countries of origin. Follow the links to learn more about the case studies conducted in ↗ Tunisia and ↗ Iraq. In future, the Senegalese case will be also presented.