Finding work biggest challenge for Ukrainian refugees in Flanders

Almost a year after the start of the war in Ukraine, over 30,000 Ukrainians are being hosted in Flanders. "I am proud of the reception of so many thousands of Ukrainians in Flanders, but we need to get them to work even more," said Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon during a visit to the emergency village for Ukrainian refugees in Antwerp.

"This is a real achievement in such a short amount of time," Jambon said during the visit. "Most people are still keen to return to their country as soon as possible, but in the meantime we are welcoming them, providing language lessons and guiding them towards work." But there is still work to be done. "To date, only 23 per cent of Ukrainians of working age have gained work experience in Flanders, compared to 70-80 per cent in the Netherlands," Jambon added.

The will to work does exist, according to Flemish Interior minister Bart Somers. "The language is a problem, of course. People still speak no or only a few words of Dutch, but it should be possible to find jobs where you can continue to learn Dutch," Somers said. "There are 200,000 vacancies in Flanders, so we need to see what we can do."

The Ukrainian crisis cost Flanders some 128 million euros in 2022. "60 million euros went to public shelters, both to the emergency villages and local governments that have their own reception initiatives," explained Flemish Housing minister Matthias Diependaele." And the government will keep up that funding in the future. "After all, we don't know how long the conflict will last and what any new wave of attacks will trigger."



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