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. There are 6 million Ukrainian exiles in Europe, marking an unprecedented wave of displacement since World War II.
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, the initial wind of solidarity for refugees has lost strength, and volunteers are finding it difficult to help women find jobs and learn the language. The burden on Austrians who have opened their homes to refugees is also growing, and there is concern about the long-term impact on the communities hosting the refugees.
In neighboring Germany, which is home to over a million refugees, the massive influx of people is putting pressure on municipalities’ capacity to receive and support them. This situation is also fueling anti-immigration rhetoric as more asylum seekers from other countries continue to rise. 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