Ukrainian Refugees Fleeing Sweden Claiming there is No Future for Them

Close up of luggage with passport and smart phone in the airport
Getty Images

Ukrainians who fled the Russian invasion of the country to Sweden are increasingly leaving the Scandinavian country, claiming that barriers to work and language issues are preventing them from supporting themselves.

Around 45,000 Ukrainians have applied for refugee status in Sweden since the start of the Russian invasion according to the Swedish Migration Agency but already at least 4,000 have either left the country to try and settle elsewhere and seek asylum or have simply returned to their home country despite the ongoing conflict.

Nataliia Volkova, a 62-year-old woman who fled Kyiv at the start of March stated that the Swedish Migration Agency made it clear to her that she was expected to support herself financially, something she claims to have found increasingly difficult.

“I understood from the first day that I get the right to work, which is great. I didn’t know then that we wouldn’t have the right to learn Swedish. And I don’t know anyone who found a job without knowing the language,” she told broadcaster SVT.

According to the broadcaster, unlike other refugees and asylum seekers, Ukrainians under the mass migration directive, do not have the right to be educated in the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) programme.

“I’m ready to clean staircases and floors but I can’t find such a job because no one wants me without the Swedish language. And among us who moved, there are many interesting people. There are artists, journalists, doctors and teachers who could be useful in Sweden,” Volkova said.

Volkova herself stated that she has two university degrees and speaks multiple languages, including Russian, Polish and Serbian but none of her skills has yielded meaningful work in Sweden.

Those who have managed to find work in Sweden, according to Volkova, are those who speak English but many others have simply left Sweden to travel to countries like Germany and Canada where language courses are offered or have returned to Ukraine.

In the early days of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Ukrainians expressed hesitancy to seek asylum in Sweden for different reasons, with some stating concerns over Sweden’s ongoing issues with gang violence, particularly fatal shootings, which have already broken all-time records this year.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.