Ukrainians in Finland: Refugee reception, family well-being, and work life integration
Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Finland received a record number of refugees. Even so, Finland has been relatively well equipped in providing the necessary services and support for the refugees. However, as the situation in Ukraine remains precarious, many are not able to return. Therefore, long-term integration requires increased attention.
This article is based on a study conducted by E2 Research. The findings are based on the analysis of 26 semi-structured interviews conducted in 2022 with Ukrainians living in Finland and 16 interviews with Finnish professionals working in the reception of Ukrainian refugees. The interviewees include Ukrainians receiving temporary protection and Ukrainians who have arrived in Finland prior to the war. We focus on the interviewees’ personal experiences and viewpoints as regards the following issues: (1) The functioning of reception services; (2) the needs of refugee families, and (3) integration into labour markets. We conclude by highlighting the necessity for long-term integration.
Generally, in the 2000s, a few thousand people have applied for asylum in Finland every year, with the exception of 2015, when more than 32,000 people, mostly Iraqis, applied for asylum in Finland. Nevertheless, between February 2022 and April 2023, more than 50,000 Ukrainians arrived in Finland (amounting to roughly one percent of the country’s population) and received temporary protection in accordance with the EU Council Directive (2001/55/EC). For many, Finland was a familiar country because many Ukrainians had previously worked in the country as seasonal workers. Most Ukrainians were accommodated in reception centers. However, compared to previous years, a larger share was housed in private accommodations. Finland has extensive welfare services and asylum seekers are entitled to, among other things, reception allowance and essential social and health services.