The IMF recently wrote on how European countries must do more to integrate Ukrainian refugees into their new homes.
Supporting refugees comes with some short-term fiscal costs. Across the EU, these could reach 30 billion euros to 37 billion euros in the first year, or about 0.2 percent of gross domestic product, as we noted in our latest Regional Economic Outlook, published in October. Countries with the largest shares of refugees, including the Czech Republic, Estonia, Moldova, and Poland, could incur fiscal costs this year equal to about 1 percent of GDP. The larger share of women and children will result in more spending on childcare, education, and health care services.
Over the medium term, however, refugees could boost economic growth and tax revenue while helping ease current labor market tightness in some parts of Europe. We estimate that Ukrainian refugees could raise the size of Europe’s labor force by some 0.6 percent by the end of 2022, and by 2.7 percent in the countries with the largest numbers of arrivals, where Ukrainian refugees will ease labor shortages.
Beyond addressing the war’s terrible economic and social impact in Ukraine itself, Europe can do more to help integrate refugees into its societies and economies. This will help host economies and prepare refugees for a successful eventual return. It might also offer lessons on how to integrate refugees from other corners of the world who may not have the same skills as those from Ukraine but who can nonetheless contribute positively to growth.https://www.imf.org/en/Blogs/Articles/2022/12/15/europe-could-do-even-more-to-support-ukrainian-refugees
The IMF would not be the only well-meaning entity focused on integration into host communities as primary means of addressing the influx. But an overabundance of focus on integration can sometimes overshadow other critical aspects of the crisis.
Namely: Focusing too tightly on integration can prioritize the needs and concerns of host communities over those of refugees. Many require comprehensive access to education, healthcare, and other basic services, in addition to the availability of work to support themselves and their families.
And those needs are often interconnected — one resource cannot simply be prioritized over another. Education, for example, is tied to healthcare. Without adequate education, a refugee may not have the knowledge or skills needed to advocate for their own healthcare needs, or to access healthcare services in their host community. Conversely, proper healthcare can determine whether a refugee child can succeed or fail in school.
Ignoring those interconnections can lead to short-term solutions that do not address the root causes of refugee challenges. Stakeholders must take a holistic and comprehensive approach to addressing needs — which may require partnerships between governments, NGOs, and the private sector, in addition to engagement by local communities.