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Popular Science: Stories of Ukrainian migrants

They are the biggest group of foreigners in Czechia. But do we know their fates? Family and relationships with their homeland are factors that form the financial behaviour of the migrants. Eva Janská with colleagues from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development and the Centre of Theoretical Studies of Charles University analysed the financial consequences of migration based on interviews.

Globalization is changing the World and thus the character of international migration is transforming as well. One kind of migration is called transnationalism. In this case, the migrant lives in both countries. Transnationalism is typical for work migration. The migrant works in one country but keeps in contact with the country of origin. In Czechia, the phenomenon is apparent with our biggest group of foreigners: Ukrainians.

Transnationalism is connected to remittances, being money that the migrant sends to the country of origin. One can help the family or business. Some migrants send money regularly, some of them occasionally, for example on holidays. Worldwide, the remittances are stable and even bigger than development aid.

Ukrainian migration to Czechia has economic reasons and remittances are a natural part of it. They help to improve the situation of relatives in Ukraine but also influence relations in the family. The role of remittances and the way of life of Ukrainians in Czechia were investigated by the authors. Fifty interviews were made with Ukrainians from the Zakarpathian region, who now live in Prague and Central Bohemia.

According to Dahinden’s typology (2010), the authors described the groups of migrants. Circa one third of the respondents (mostly fathers and couples) are members of the transnational mobile type. They have high mobility and a lack of ties with the host country. Others are usually single, divorced or planning a move to Czechia with their family and belong to the local mobile type, which is known for higher mobility and relations to both countries.

Yura and Sasha are examples of the first group. They are fathers, who are sending home approx. 60 – 70% of the money they make in Czechia. They live modestly and usually without relations in Czech society. The example of Svetlana and Vanja shows parents working in Czechia, but their grandparents in Ukraine look after their son. As with many other families, they are deciding whether to bring the children to Czechia. It can mean a worse economic situation, but a more pleasant family life. On the other hand, they can leave the son in Ukraine and they will be sending money as they have been doing until now, but they see him just a few times, often only once or twice a year.

Ukranians in Prague. Source: Lidovky.cz

The local mobile type is represented by Natalia. She is divorced and she has been living in Prague for sixteen years. She does not know the city well, because she is always working. Financially, she is doing well. She bought a house in Ukraine and invests further money into her children. She supports their studies or buys them consumer goods.

Young and single migrants Petr and Tamara have other things to do – they live like Czech students. They study, occasionally work, travel, and get some of their money from their parents. They are integrated; they study in the Czech language. Moreover, they say that female migrants that are successful in the host country are improving their status in the patriarchal Ukrainian society. Petr and Tamara only send presents occasionally to Ukraine.

The interviews show that the strategy and relation to both countries are changing over time. For example, after the birth of a child, families have to decide whether they want to live together in Czechia or to leave the baby in Ukraine. These aspects affect the character of migration and remittance as well.

JANSKÁ, E., PAUKNEROVÁ, K., KOROPECKÁ, M. (2017).TRANSNATIONAL BEHAVIOUR OF UKRAINIAN REMITTING MIGRANTS, 108(5), 656–668. https://doi.org/10.1111/tesg.12243

Tomáš Janík

Published: Aug 13, 2018 05:15 PM

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