The great exodus of the Ukrainian people (the phenomenon of displaced persons in 2022)


The article examines a unique historical event – a mass “exodus” of Ukrainian civilians caused by the Russian invasion in 2022. Since February 24, 2022, about 15 million have been displaced. This category can be divided into internally displaced persons (≈8 million) and Ukrainians who found temporary shelter abroad (≈7 million). Ukrainian refugees are a large social group whose members are united by the shared status of displaced persons and common problems typical for refugees. The article examines the internal structure of the group and five “waves” of internally displaced persons, differing in the time of exit from places of permanent residence, social composition, and attitudes. The article identifies a category of citizens who refused to leave and remained in their homes. Likewise, the paper also sheds light on the perspective of the invading power toward civilians. Firstly, the aggressor viewed civilians as hostages and means of blackmail; secondly, it provoked a mass exodus to pressure European countries; thirdly, the aggressor used local communities as a source of support for its own military; fourthly, Ukrainian civilians were used as a “biomass”. It is concluded that the social capital acquired during the previous decades of Ukrainian independence played an essential role in preventing panic, chaos, and social catastrophe. The article suggests that it could be beneficial to design “exit strategies” from large cities and specific regions to ensure Ukrainian civilians’ safety.

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