Where have Ukrainian refugees gone? Identifying potential settlement areas across European regions integrating digital and traditional geographic data

Miguel González-Leonardo, Ruth Neville, Sofía Gil-Clavel, Francisco Rowe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has triggered the largest refugee crisis in Europe since WWII. As of early April 2024, over 5.9 million people have fled Ukraine. Large-scale efforts have been made to identify the major receiving countries. However, less is known about the subnational areas within host countries where refugees have migrated. Identifying these areas is key for the appropriate allocation of humanitarian aid. By combining digital Facebook API data and traditional data from Eurostat, this paper aims to identify and characterise potential settlement areas of Ukrainians across the main destination countries in Europe. We identify high concentrations of Ukrainians in urban areas with a preexisting diaspora and tight labour market conditions across southern, northern-west and central Poland and the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. We also find potential settlements in key urban agglomerations with a moderate diaspora and high levels of unemployment in Spain. Only in Romania, refugees seem to have settled in rural areas which show a moderate diaspora but low levels of unemployment. Potential settlement areas in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are spread across the country. Surprisingly, we do not identify potential settlement areas in bordering regions with Ukraine within neighbouring countries, suggesting that refugees may have used them as transit points. Our findings point out that different packages of humanitarian assistance may be needed according to the number of refugees and the characteristics of settlement areas.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Big data
  • Europe
  • Facebook data
  • settlement
  • Ukrainian refugees

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