While the basic needs of Ukrainian refugees in Poland are met, more support is required in certain other areas
Nearly a third of Ukrainian refugees in Poland have so far failed to find work, and just over half have a stable housing situation
Warsaw, 27 February 2023
Following the Russian invasion, millions of Ukrainian citizens crossed the Polish border and a significant number of them decided to stay on in Poland. Deloitte in cooperation with Social Progress Imperative and Play Verto surveyed more than 1,200 refugees from Ukraine in an effort to put their voice at the centre of the discussion and help inform the response to this crisis. Nearly one in five respondents has a job in their field of expertise, but only one in ten believes they have managed to maintain the previous standard of living. One in five declares willingness to stay on in Poland.
The Ukraine Refugee People’s Pulse survey was conducted during the period from 24 October to 31 December 2022 among 1,206 Ukrainian refugees residing in Poland. Listening to the refugees own voices will help inform the efficient use of resources in response to the crisis. It will also contribute to protecting the human capital of the Ukrainian refugee community which is bound to prove critical for the reconstruction of the country on their return.
This play-based survey experience was designed to ensure high engagement and a sense of trust with the respondent who could opt in to be contacted again to share their changing needs and be connected with organisations who can support them. “When you engage people in a creative and playful way - you get a deeper connection, more heartfelt responses and authentic, actionable insights,” says Michael Sani, CEO, Play Verto.
Ukraine Refugee Pulse report
Go to the report page
The overwhelming majority of respondents state that their basic needs for food, water, sanitation and suitable housing are met. However, they report more serious deficits in terms of physical and mental wellbeing, such as limited access to healthcare and educational services. A hindering barrier in this case is the cost. Language difficulties and lack of adequate information also play their parts. We need to keep in mind that inadequate psychological help in coping with the burden of the conflict will lead to long-term consequences that will last a lifetime and even across generations,
- says Aleksander Łaszek, senior manager, Sustainability and Economics, Deloitte.
Well-educated young women take care of their loved ones
Not all those surveyed, who came to Poland as a consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have been assigned PESEL numbers - 91 percent have Ukrainian passports and 96 percent have registered in the official PESEL database. The vast majority of these people are women (85 percent) and nearly two-thirds (59 percent) are aged 18-39. The respondents included in our sample are well educated, with 45 percent reporting having a master’s degree or higher, and 24 percent – a bachelor's degree.
The majority of those who responded indicate that they have a significant burden of having to care for others. 53 percent have come to Poland with children under the age of 16, and an additional 13 percent – with older minors. Approximately 18 percent take care of elderly relatives, and nearly one person in ten (9 percent) is in charge of people with disabilities.
Some of the survey questions concern refugees’ future plans. One in five respondents (22 percent) declares to be willing to stay on in Poland, which will be consequential for developing long-term strategies. However, the majority wish to return to Ukraine: 8 percent are making plans already; 48 percent will return when circumstances permit.
Basic needs are met, but low income and high unemployment take their toll
Ukrainian refugees in Poland point to low levels of income and high unemployment as the biggest problems they face. Although almost one in five respondents has a job they have been trained for (19 percent), 28 percent have not been able to find any work, despite their efforts to do so. Furthermore, 19 percent of those surveyed who have found work report that it is of a lower standard than the one previously held in Ukraine. Significantly, 17 percent say they would like to take on a job, but cannot, because they lack childcare.
As a result, only 9 percent of respondents declare that they can maintain the same standard of living as the one they had in Ukraine, while 31 percent believe they have enough income to satisfy their basic needs. The majority of those who responded to the survey are barely coping financially: 36 percent do not have sufficient income, and 24 percent report having no income at all and relying on savings and welfare.
Yet, despite these challenges, the overwhelming majority report that their basic needs for food, water, access to sanitation, and suitable housing are met.
In terms of the obstacles that hinder access to these elementary services, 62% of respondents cite costs, but a significant number (50 percent) attribute the problem to the language barrier. The respondents express similar views on the shortcomings in the area of physical and mental health care. According to 56 percent of the surveyed refugees, the cost is the most significant obstacle to accessing healthcare services, but the language barrier (37 percent) and lack of information (32 percent) are also significant.
Deloitte experts believe that the refugees from Ukraine experience high levels of traumatic stress, and many do not have access to adequate psychological support – only 19 percent of respondents use such services. Given the immediate and long-term negative effects of psychological trauma, expanding access to psychological support should be a priority for the international response.
Power of refugees' human capital
The labour market situation is among the key matters that enable newcomers to Poland to function independently. When compared with other refugee crises, the integration of Ukrainians in Poland proceeds fairly smoothly. The estimated employment rate for this group after the first five months following the outbreak of war is 30 percent. Considering previous refugee crises, as a rule such results are achieved after 48 months following the arrival in an EU country.
“We should view refugees from Ukraine as a significant human capital. Addressing unemployment and underemployment in this highly skilled group would help increase the refugees’ contribution to the Polish economic growth during their stay in Poland. Ensuring that their health-related and psychological needs are met at this stage would help increase the effectiveness of the refugees’ involvement in rebuilding Ukraine upon return home,” says Michael Green, CEO of Social Progress Imperative.
However, the relatively smooth and fast adaptation of Ukrainian refugees to the Polish labour market environment does not translate into success in individual situations. Individual people need assistance, which can be provided, among others, by employment offices. For the past several months Deloitte has been involved in the project aimed to support the Ministry of Family and Social Policy in the strategic transformation of public employment services. One of the goals is to reduce the barriers to refugees' access to the labour market.
We all hope that in the future Ukraine will be rebuilt as a stronger country, but today we cannot predict how long the war will last. What we can do however, is support refugees in their immediate needs, and design solutions that will ensure them stability and opportunities to grow in Poland, even if it is only temporary. Some of the Ukrainians will stay on in our country after the invasion ends. The results of our survey can provide insights to inform long-term strategies for coping with the refugee crisis which may prove helpful to central and local governments, international institutions, NGOs, as well as business representatives,
- concludes Tomasz Konik, CEO of Deloitte Poland and Poland-Baltics Cluster.
Ukraine Refugee Pulse report
Ukraine Refugee Pulse report
Find out the results of the Deloitte, SPI and Play Verto study
|Go to the report page|