Refugees from Ukraine in Russia: Migration Policy and Everyday Life

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Kuznetsova, Irina (2018). Refugees from Ukraine in Russia: Migration Policy and Everyday Life. The Journal of Social Policy Studies, 16(4), 577-594. (in Russian)

Since the onset of conflict in 2014, more than one million people have fled from south-east Ukraine to Russia. These displaced people fall into numerous categories in Russia and use a variety of formal and informal practices ‘to cope’ and find employment. This article does use not a formal definition of ‘refugee’, but instead relies on the self-identification of people as refugee, on the basis of interviews with displaced people and with NGOs, diaspora leaders and migration experts. The paper’s theoretical framework is based on de Certeau’s concept of tactics and coping, intersectionality and the concept of ‘semi-legality’. Firstly, it examines how the simplified route of applying for Russian citizenship / residence permits do not resolve refugees’ issues. For example, The Compatriot Resettlement Program does not reflect the specific needs of forced displaced people, has a limited choice of regions where people can settle and has age limitations. It then explores how the issues surrounding the legal status of this group has made the process of forming safe spaces for displaced people very problematic. With a lack of institutional support available to respond to social needs, and issues around their legal status, informal networks became crucial for the sharing of knowledge and support for all aspects of refugees’ lives. The paper then details how the situation of semi-legality is especially challenging for the elderly as well as the displaced with few material resources, who lack strong support networks. The paper concludes by arguing that there is a need for a coordinated approach to resolving the social and legal problems refugees face, which were also gender and age sensitive. The nature of this space would also depend on the attitudes of the host society towards ‘others’ as played out in daily interactions, institutional practices and the implementation
of migrant rights.

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