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Losing Control: Migration Issue in Ukraine

According to the UN report the number of immigrants living in Ukraine is approximately 6.8 million people, which put country on the 4th rank among the countries in the world, right after US, Russia and Germany. The number seems enormous, thus the difficulties regarding the issue should also be striking, but we do not hear much about the problems connected with immigration in Ukraine. There are few reasons which can explain this fact and it is not that Ukraine found the key to very effective migration policy. It is quite different.

Ukrainian migration policy started to form only after the collapse of Soviet Union when the borders of country became open for the rest of the world. As a result, the lack of experience in the mentioned sphere caused the mistakes and ineffective steps taken by the government.

However, because of political situation and unstable economy Ukraine is not very attractive for labor immigration. In contrast, Ukrainians leave the country in a search for job and as a result supply the labor emigration mostly to the Western countries, especially the neighboring ones. So, who are those of almost 7 million immigrants living in Ukraine? First of all, most of them moved after the collapse of the Soviet Union with the purpose of family reunification and returning to the native country after being misplaced during the War or in a process of people rotation during the Soviet times. Today the biggest minority in Ukraine is Russians who compose 17% of population. Other nationalities are Belarusian, Moldovan, Crimean Tatar, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Polish, who together amount to around 3% of population.  Therefore, most of them have some Ukrainian roots or at least common history as the former Soviet Union citizens.

Ukraine-Slovakia border without any fence and guards. Photo by barry_432 from<span
Ukraine-Slovakia border without any fence and guards. Photo by barry_432

In addition to that due to its geopolitical position Ukraine became the corridor zone for migrants from Asian and African countries on their way to Western Europe, especially through the Ukrainian-Russian border, which is not very well controlled. This is an important issue because in such way Ukraine becomes the country of transit for illegal immigrants, which negatively influences not only the image of state on the international arena, but also results in increase of marginalized groups of aliens in society. Both mentioned categories of migrants do not experience the strong obstacles in the process of integration into the society, which is the issue in most European states as well as in the US: the former, because they are culturally close and it might be not that difficult for them; and the later, because they just do not stay long in the country.

One more important issue connected with migration is the human trafficking mostly of Ukrainian young women not only to Near East and Balkans but also to Western Europe. The majority of them are looking for a work abroad as waitress, dancers or hostess, but instead are sold to sexual slavery. Nearly 120 thousands of Ukrainians have become the victims of trafficking since 1991, which is more than in any other Eastern European county. Moreover, state does not have effective mechanism to protect them or at least offer good job at home for them not to become labor migrants.

Sex slavery art protest installation.  Photo from
Sex slavery art protest installation. Picture from

Hence, Ukrainian migration policy is in need for cardinal changes and improvements, as with the process of globalization more and more people get the possibility to cross the borders. Human trafficking, economic migration as well as transit of illegal immigrants are the main issues which state needs to pay the most attention to. Because if they would not be properly managed, country might soon become completely incapable of protecting own citizens and at the same time the paradise for illegal immigrants from all over the world.