ACAPS Thematic Report - Return movement dynamics of IDPs and refugees, 07 July 2022



The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on 24 February 2022 has displaced one-third of the country’s population. Over 6.2 million people remain internally displaced within Ukraine, and there were over 5.6 million Ukrainian refugees recorded across Europe in early July (IOM 27/06/2022; UNHCR accessed 06/07/2022; OCHA 24/04/2022). Reports suggest that displaced populations have been moving back to their place of habitual residence in Ukraine since May, although it is unclear how sustainable and permanent the return may be. This report looks at their motivations for moving back, presents the scale of their movement and the main locations involved, and provides a comprehensive overview of their humanitarian situation.
The main motivations for returning people present include a sense of having fewer safety and security incidents in their places of habitual residence, reuniting with family members that had stayed behind, and financial reasons.
Although there is huge uncertainty around numbers, estimations suggest that around 5.5 million people have returned to their places of habitual residence in Ukraine (IOM 27/06/2022).
While around 90% have returned from within Ukraine, 10% have reported returning from abroad. Border-crossing figures report an increase in the number of Ukrainians coming back into Ukraine (Frontex 02/06/2022; UNCHR accessed 28/06/2022; Ukrayinska Pravda 12/04/2022; UN 14/04/2022; BBC 15/04/2022).
People moving back initially returned to oblasts predominantly in the north and west of the country. As at late June, the highest numbers of IDPs moving back were reported in northern and eastern oblasts, as well as Kyiv. Since May, the return movements from abroad have been recorded across majority of the oblasts in the country with Lviv, Kyiv, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts named as most popular oblasts of destinations (REACH/UNHCR 02/05/2022; REACH/ UNHCR 13/06/2022; IOM 27/06/2022). Some reports suggest that people are also returning to areas with active conflict. These people are more likely to experience displacement again if insecurity worsens (Razumkov Centre 18/05/2022; REACH/UNHCR 02/05/2022; IOM 23/05/2022).
Priority needs among the people moving back are cash assistance and materials to rebuild their damaged houses. The affected population will continue to face long-term needs and require assistance rebuilding their lives, which may pose additional challenges to humanitarian responders.