The European Union is starting to experience “solidarity fatigue” towards the Ukrainian refugees as a result of the cost of living crisis, a new report claims.
Despite the “unprecedented outpouring of solidarity,” and warm welcome towards Ukrainian refugees since the start of the Russian invasion, the report points out the recent lack of direct funding and the faltering steps for Ukrainian integration into host societies.
The report presented by the European Commission’s Ukraine adviser Lodewijk Asscher identified economic slowdown in host countries as the major cause of the “fatigue”.
“The cost of living crisis has hit low- and medium-income families in host societies and created a context in which Russian propaganda could be more successful,” Asscher said in the report.
The current economic condition of the EU has created a “huge pressure” on some states as the integration into the job market is difficult, Asscher added.
With inflation hitting record figures and more than 27 million underemployed or unemployed in the EU, providing new jobs has stood out as a noticeable barrier since the influx started after the beginning of the invasion in February 2022.
The EU, however, has already signed 1.3 million employment contracts with Ukrainians fleeing the war, Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit said.
Disinformation and ‘waiting dilemma’
The slowing of support might foster disinformation campaigns, some of which have already started targeting EU member states, according to EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson.
“The discourse on migration refugees can be weaponized to sow division within the EU,” she said in a press conference on Tuesday, noting Russian president Vladimir Putin’s interest in influencing public opinion over displaced Ukrainians.
The report noted that the integration is also halted due to Russia’s unwillingness to end the war immediately as the uncertainty around the war has made it difficult for people to embark on adaptation processes in their host societies.
The report called the phenomenon “waiting dilemma”.
“People who fled tend to keep an eye on their home country and want to return as soon as it is safe, making it difficult to decide whether to start learning a new language, embark on more serious training or education programmes, or integrate children into the education system of the host country,” it added.
‘Largest intra-continent migration since World War II’
The Russian invasion caused the largest intra-Europe movement since the second world war, sending 16 million refugees across the continent.
The European Union received 4 million of those Ukrainian refugees, spending more than €1.1 billion to host and integrate them into the job market,
Contrary to the hesitancy to host migrants from across the Mediterranean or the other war zones, Ukrainian war refugees have been accepted by countries with open arms.
Johansson hailed Poland and Germany for accepting a million Ukrainians each, followed by the Czech Republic, Italy and Spain.
Ukraine’s neighbours, Estonia, Chezch Republic, Poland, Lithuania, and Bulgaria hosted the most temporary beneficiaries compared to the country’s population, she added.