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Anastasiia Dobarina, Salomé Javakhishvili, Sofiia Kosovska, Elias Oberparleiter


How refugees live after arriving in the European Union
  • Bild: Elisabeth Sellmeier, Caritas Wien

Destroyed house in Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, the world and Ukraine were shaken by the news that Russia had launched a full-scale invasion. Ukraine was bombarded with missiles. Most of the infrastructure and buildings have been destroyed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, has reported that over 10,000 civilians have tragically lost their lives in Ukraine following Russia's full-scale invasion.

Many people started going abroad to save their lives, loved ones, and children, or just to be in a safe place. According to UNHCR of February 15, 2024, there are 6,004,100 refugees from Ukraine in Europe.


Refugees From Ukraine Recorded In Europe - UNHCR (February 15, 2024)

Difference Between a Migrant and a Refugee

Around the world, many people don't live in their home countries.

Some seek new opportunities, chasing dreams of prosperity and employment in foreign lands. Others are compelled to leave not out of desire but necessity, their choices shaped by the harsh realities of conflict, persecution, or economic despair.

Understanding this helps us see why people come to new places and integrate them into society.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency

The Experience of a Ukrainian Refugee Living in Italy

In February 2022, Sofiia Korotych traveled to Europe. On February 23, she bought tickets to Ukraine. However, on February 24, Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Returning home was risky, so Sofiia decided to stay in Italy.


Sofiia Korotych, 21 years old

Situation of Refugees in Austria

When the war started, Kateryn Solodovyd (36 years old) fled to Austria from Dnipro, Ukraine. In this chat, she shared her story as a refugee in this country.


Not Only Ukrainians Are Looking for Shelter in Austria

Austria is also a destination for people from other countries. Irrespective of Ukrainians, it is mainly Afghans, Indians, and Syrians who migrate to Austria. Their motives vary. Some were expelled from their country or were threatened there. Others hope to build a better life in Europe or to support their family in their home country by sending remittances.

The Refugees Arriving Center at Traiskirchen

When refugees arrive in Austria they are first sent to one of two refugee centers. They are accommodated there temporarily. One of these two refugee centers is located at Traiskirchen, a small town in Lower Austria. It is located near a spacious area. This refugee camp was first set up in 1956. After Soviet forces brutally suppressed the Hungarian People's Uprising, thousands fled westwards to Austria. Since then, wars have repeatedly led to refugees having to be accommodated here.

People from Ukraine are the only refugee group that is not accommodated in these refugee arriving centers. They first get to the Austria Center at Vienna and don't have to go through the asylum seeker process because they have the right of residence until March 2025. This right of residence enables access to the labor market, housing, medical care and education.

There was a lot of media attention, especially in 2015 when a particularly large number of people arrived in Austria. Most recently, in November 2022, there were reports that the reception center for refugees was overwhelmed with the many arrivals. Tents have been put up. The mayor of the city expressed his anger at federal policy. Residents were also unhappy with the situation. However, the precarious accommodation of the refugees was also criticized.

General Situation of Refugees in Austria

Asylum seekers in Austria receive essential support to meet their daily needs, including temporary accomodation if reqzired. This assistance is provided to individuals seeking help and protection during their asylum process.

Considered in the need of help are:

  • Asylum seekers waiting the conclusion of their asylum procedure
  • Persons entitled to subsidiary protection
  • Persons entitled to asylum during the first four months after recognition of asylum
  • Persons with a legally binding negative outcome of the asylum procedure and persons without a right of residence if they cannot be deported for legal or factual reasons

Considered in need of protection are:

  • who cannot or cannot sufficiently provide for themselves and their dependants living in the same household from their own resources and means
  • who does not receive (sufficient) support from other persons or institutions

After arriving in Austria, refugees are confronted with various challenges. Above all, Ekber Gercek, Head of Care & Health at the social organization "Volkshilfe" emphasizes the importance for refugees of finding work quickly.


Ekber Gercek, Head of Care & Health, Social Organization "Volkshilfe"

As a project coordinator in refugee aid at the "Train of Hopes", Nina Andresen has a good overview of how refugees are faring in Austria.

The common challenge for all refugees despite the country they're coming from is that the social support they receive in Austria is really low

Nina Andresen


Nina Andresen, Project Coordinator at the Social Organization "Train of Hope"

There is currently a debate in Austria about whether refugees should continue to receive cash support from the state. The conservative ÖVP would prefer to offer refugees prepaid cards to cover their needs instead of cash. Whether this proposal is implemented depends on the elections in the fall. If there is a coalition between the right-wing FPÖ and the ÖVP, it will probably be implemented.

The aid organizations are in agreement. In the best-case scenario, refugees are given immediate access to the labor market. This is one of the relevant factors to enable them to live independently and participate in social life. It is important to give refugees access to the labor market as quickly as possible by speeding up their asylum procedures. This is because it is difficult or even impossible for people who have not yet been granted asylum to find work.

If you're a refugee and you're not allowed to work and to earn your own money you can't get a part of society, you will get lost every day more.

Ekber Gercek