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Publication | Report/Paper

Risks to Community Cohesion between Ukrainian Refugees and Host Communities in Central Europe

Regional Report

In Central Europe, governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses, multilateral organizations, and ordinary citizens have provided substantial support to Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s 2022 invasion. However, as the war continues, this support may begin to deteriorate due to the challenges host countries face, such as high inflation and stretched social services, as well as disinformation campaigns relating to refugees, including from Russia-aligned stakeholders. This report aims to help understand the factors that might undermine cohesion between Ukrainian refugees and host communities in the region in the medium term. It provides programmatic recommendations to local, national, and international stakeholders on what they could do to mitigate those factors. In addition, the report details the characteristics that have increased (or can increase) different Ukrainian refugees’ vulnerabilities to exploitation, discrimination, and ability to access necessary services, as well as incendiary and misleading discourses about Ukrainian refugees that have appeared and have the potential to be spread further.

Over the coming weeks, country-specific reports will become available on this page. 

This report was funded by the UK Government through the Community Cohesion in Central Europe project, under the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies or the views of IFES or Palladium.

Authored by:
Dr Ingrida Kerusauskaite, IFES
Ruta Nimkar, Meraki Labs
Leila Mulloy, Palladium
Agata Slota, Palladium

Additional research and review inputs: James Sparrow (Palladium), Maja Wesołowska (Palladium), Witold Stupnicki (Palladium), Lisa Reppell (IFES), Lucinda Jones (Palladium), Fernanda Buril (IFES)

Table of Contents




1.1 Objectives 

1.2 Approach, methodology, and structure of the report 


2.1. Overview 
2.2. Legal status, welfare, and benefits
2.3. Healthcare
2.4. Housing 
2.5. Education
2.6. Employment and income 
2.7. Community, social, and political life 


3.1. Overview
3.2. Actors spreading misleading or abusive messages 
Reasons for spreading misleading or incendiary content 
3.3. Types of messages and approaches 
Considerations for Countering Anti-Refugee Messaging
3.4. Modes of dissemination 
Considerations for Countering Anti-Refugee Messaging:
3.5. Host community reactions (interpreters) 
Considerations for Countering Anti-Refugee Messaging: 
3.6. Risks 
Considerations for Countering Anti-Refugee Messaging


4.1. Overview
4.2. Legal status, welfare, and benefits 
4.3. Healthcare 
4.4. Housing
4.5. Education 
4.6. Employment and income 
4.7. Community, social, and political life
Country-specific historic grievances


5.1. Overview
5.2. Cross-cutting programmatic approaches 
5.3. Legal status, welfare, and benefits 
5.4. Healthcare
5.5. Housing 
5.6. Education 
5.7. Employment and income
5.8. Community, social, and political life

Risks to Community Cohesion between Ukrainian Refugees and Host Communities in Central Europe: Regional Report

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About IFES
IFES advances democracy for a better future. We collaborate with civil society, public institutions, and the private sector to build resilient democracies that deliver for everyone. As the global leader in the promotion and protection of democracy, our technical assistance and applied research develop trusted electoral bodies capable of conducting credible elections: effective and accountable governing institutions; civil and political processes in which all people can safely and equally participate; and innovative ways in which technology and data can positively serve elections and democracy. Since 1987, IFS has worked in more than 145 countries, from developing to mature democracies. IFS is a global, nonpartisan organization based in Arlington, Virginia, USA, and registered as a non-profit organization (501 (c)(3)] under the United States tax code.

About Palladium
Palladium is a leading implementer of international development programs.
Working in over 90 countries and across a broad range of sectors, we offer donor agencies a balance of global scale and in-house technical expertise. Aid is a critical component of our shared pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals, and we bring our knowledge of the private sector to bear in designing solutions that use aid to spark lasting social and economic development. In 2021, our projects touched the lives of over 42 million people. We helped raise the incomes of 552,000 individuals by a total of GBP 122,115,000 while focusing on those most in need. Our forestry and climate projects led to the protection or restoration of over one million hectares of land. We delivered 33 million relief and medical items and helped develop or strengthen 335 policies. And we catalyzed GBP 651,500,000 in public and private sector investment, all with the aim of making the world a better place.