• Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

From Mikolaiv to Vienna: Surviving and Rebuilding in the Midst of War


Feb 13, 2024
Three generations of Ukrainian women enduring perpetual exile in Austria

Irina, Marina, and Katia are a grandmother, mother, and granddaughter originally from Mikolaiv, southern Ukraine. However, they had to flee their city of origin due to the dangerous war with Russia. Now, they find themselves in exile together in Austria, trying to integrate while facing the reality that a quick return to their homeland may not be possible.

Marina found a job in a supermarket and worked her way up from the bakery department to become head cashier. Her daughter Katia is studying remotely at a Viennese high school with the goal of obtaining the Austrian high school diploma in 2025. Irina has dedicated herself to volleyball and has formed a circle of friends. The three women have worked hard to integrate into the local community, finding an apartment and making the most of their new lives in Austria.

While many Ukrainian refugees are building their future in their host countries, the situation is complicated for women whose husbands are on the front lines. As the conflict drags on, there is concern about the long-term impact on communities hosting refugees and anti-immigration rhetoric is fueled by the massive influx of people into neighboring Germany’s cities. The EU must define a permanent status for Ukrainian refugees as their temporary protection status will expire in 2025. The reality is that many refugees may have to resign themselves to rebuilding their lives in their host countries as there is no clear end to the conflict in sight yet.

The Ukrainian authorities are also concerned about potential demographic challenges they could face if refugees do not return home. However, Katia hopes to eventually return to Ukraine but is also preparing herself for potentially staying in Vienna for her university studies as it’s hard for her family to plan for a return due to uncertainty about Ukraine’s future.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that there are 6 million Ukrainian exiles in Europe since World War II marking an unprecedented wave of displacement since then.

In this article we can see how these three women have had different experiences after fleeing Mikolaiv but have managed together with hard work and dedication towards integration into Austrian society. Despite some challenges they still hope for better future not just for themselves but also for Ukraine’s population who were forced out of their homes due to this dangerous war with Russia.

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